'XCOM 2' Has Native Steam Controller Support, And It's Really Good

XCOM 2 is fast becoming a hit on the PC since its launch earlier this week. Firaxis and 2K have definitely done a great job by many reviewer's accounts in creating a new game to continue to carry the torch of the XCOM series since its 2012 reboot took the gaming industry by storm. Yet, Firaxis had one more interesting twist up their sleeve when developing XCOM 2 for PC. XCOM 2 is one of the few games on Steam to feature native Steam Controller support for users.

The Steam Controller is nothing new. Having been revealed a few years back as Valve's solution to help bring the precision of PC gaming into the living room, yet giving players a way to leave the mouse and keyboard at their desk, the Steam Controller is definitely unique among the more popular gaming controllers at market.

Firaxis took to its Steam page to describe the decision, noting that it gives players of XCOM 2 a 1:1 comparison between control types.

XCOM 2's native integration allows the player to do the following with the Steam Controller:
  • 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.
We consider this configuration to be an initial implementation, and as always, we hope the community will provide feedback in addition to making improvements to the configuration on their own.
Anyone can create and share a controller set up. It's how games such as Age of Empires II HD and Civilization IV are playable on the gamepad. Many games, such as XCOM 2, rely on the precision a mouse provides over a traditional gamepad set up. Thankfully, since the support on Steam Controller was thought out by those creating the game, it feels incredible on the gamepad. So much so that I have been playing XCOM 2 since launch pretty much exclusively on the Steam Link and Controller.

XCOM 2 Steam Controller config.
XCOM 2 Steam Controller config. [Image via Steam]As seen in the layout above, there is a clear, thoughtful layout for XCOM 2 on Steam Controller. And it works like a dream. When in the tactical combat view, navigating the screen doesn't feel like a chore in XCOM 2. You rotate the camera using the thumbstick, zoom out with the D-Pad/touchpad. Your cursor is controlled with mouse-like precision thanks to the right thumb pad, which once you get used to feels like a dream.

Additionally, the triggers act like the mouse buttons, mapping your right and left mouse click onto them. While the buttons have been switched - with the right click on mapped to the left trigger and vice-versa, it doesn't feel out of place in XCOM 2.

The beauty of this is simple: XCOM 2 is putting forward some really well-optimized controls for players who want to test the waters with a Steam Controller can get around easily. However, being PC, you are able to create your own control schemes, remap buttons and so on to fit your personal XCOM 2 experience. This is just one way to use the Steam Controller to get mouse-like precision while reclining on your couch.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown was ported from PC to multiple other platforms, such as mobile, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, so using a gamepad since the series reboot isn't out of the ordinary. It is interesting then, since the vast majority of PC players use Microsoft's Xbox One or Xbox 360 gamepad, that XCOM 2 developer Firaxis opted to only provide Steam Controller support and not any official support for the other peripherals. However, as Ars Techina points out, it makes a certain amount of sense for the native support to be on Steam controller, since this is the type of experience the controller was designed for. There is no word whether traditional gamepads will be supported in the future.

Playing XCOM 2? Sound off in the comments below.

[Images via 2K/Firaxis, Steam]