We’re all aware that mouse and keyboard are better than gamepads for certain genres in the sense that it offers a competitive advantage. A mouse has superior aiming precision and quicker movements. It’s better in these respects, and that’s the reason why aim assist is even a discussion in the first place.
But while the accuracy and speed of mouse and keyboard is objectively superior, humans are not robots. We are not all the same. We are not all driven by a quest for maximum efficiency. In the same way we don’t all bung every meal in a blender, run everywhere, or have velcro shoes to save tying laces, so too we don’t all prioritise maximum efficiency in a gaming capacity.
To some, the benefits of lying down on a couch outweigh the necessity for aiming accuracy with a mouse and keyboard. I am one such person. Having gone 15 years with a desk and a PC, a combination of total laziness and wanting my cat to lie on me has resulted in a gradual shift to gaming in the front room. It’s not just for these admittedly shallow reasons though - there are millions of people who physically can’t use a mouse and keyboard, and vice versa, due to disabilities. As much as possible needs to be done to accommodate all types of players. After all, the fundamental benefit of PC gaming is choice.
So regardless of your hottest take on whether or not one control method is superior to the other, more people are using gamepads on PC. This is a result of both improved support and the steady stream of console players making the jump to the green and fertile land of PC gaming. It’s led to an increasingly awkward situation wherein developers are leaning into controller support, while simultaneously trying to deliver an experience that excels with the traditional mouse and keyboard.
This comes to a head in competitive multiplayer. Gamepad users want aim assist. Mouse users generally don’t want gamepad users to have it, and are often quick to suggest people should be using mouse and keyboard anyway. As I said previously, there are many reasons why they aren't already doing this.
Without aim assist, controller users get absolutely spanked in the likes of Call of Duty: WWII. Some games do facilitate aim assist though, including Destiny 2. It’s not designed to turn any old pleb into a head-shotting superhuman. Instead, it’s general aim should be to bring gamepad users as close to parity with mouse users as possible. To some, this is to tantamount to cheating, while others see it as levelling the playing field. I fall in the latter camp, although I’m interested to hear the rest of the community’s position on the matter.
But here’s the thing, I do totally get the other point of view. I wouldn’t want a mouse and keyboard user to be given a helping hand in Rocket League. My split in Rocket League is about 50/50 in terms of M&KB v controller, and the former is probably the weaker control method. Even taking that into account, giving me a boost as a M&KB user feels tantamount to cheating. I understand the irony in wanting aim assist with a controller for FPS games, but not a boost to driving games with mouse and keyboard. I think it’s because the gulf in performance in first-person shooters is just absolutely huge between mouse and keyboard and gamepad, while in Rocket League it’s a much closer affair.
Don’t worry, I’m going to bring my rambling thoughts to a close, but I do think this is going to become an increasing discussion point in the years to come. There’s a couple of angles to this one - do you think gamepad users should have aim assist to bring them level with mouse users? And if not, should there be efforts made to have segregated servers for gamepad users on PC, in the interest of providing the best possible options for everyone? Get voting and let us know your thoughts on the matter below!