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XCOM 2 supports Valve's Steam Controller but not traditional gamepads

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  • XCOM 2 supports Valve's Steam Controller but not traditional gamepads

    PC-exclusive game works with PC-exclusive controller.

    By Kyle Orland

    Sam Machkovech

    The good news is that XCOM 2 actually does support the use of a handheld gamepad for today's launch, despite early promises to the contrary. The bad news is that the support is limited to Valve's decidedly non-standard Steam Controller for the time being.

    Backing up a bit, Firaxis announced back in June that the PC-exclusive XCOM 2 would not bring along its predecessor's surprisingly competent support for standard console controllers (which was a necessity for the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game). At the time, Creative Director Jake Solomon told IGN that the team tweaked XCOM 2's on-screen user interface to be mouse-and-keyboard friendly. Though there were vague nods toward supporting gamepads "in the future," such support was not supposed to be ready at launch.

    Then, last night, Firaxis took to the XCOM 2 Steam page to explain that the game was getting launch-day controller long as you have a Steam Controller. The "early access" native integration for the Steam Controller, being developed in conjunction with Valve, reportedly lets players:
    • Use a different control scheme based on the in-game situation
    • Experience precise and responsive 1:1 camera controls using the touchpads in the Geoscape and the Tactical view
    • Instantly select your ability with the flexibility of the controller's Touch Menus
    In a way, this focus on the Steam Controller at launch makes sense. Valve's gamepad was specifically designed to work well with games that were initially designed for the mouse and keyboard. Thus, adding a native configuration that maps XCOM 2's controls to the Steam Controller's touchpads was probably easier than hard-coding full support for traditional joysticks and buttons. The ability for the community to tweak the controller configuration—and make these new settings easily available to the community—is a nice touch, too.

    We put Valve's new OS, controller, streaming box, and TV console to the test.On the other hand, there are tens of millions of other USB gamepads floating around out there, most of which conform to the dual-joystick design made famous by the Xbox and PlayStation consoles (controllers from the current-gen consoles also work on PC). Ignoring that big group of users while catering to the relative market niche of Valve's recently launched controller could come off as a bit blinkered.

    In any case, I'm sure there are a good number of readers who think this is a moot point and are wondering why anyone would want to play a game like this with anything other than a mouse and keyboard. Oh, look, there's a comment link where those readers can share their thoughts with the readers that actually enjoy gamepad controls. This should be a fun thread.