So I just started playing God of War Ragnarok on the PS5 and I’ve immediately been reminded of all the warm and fuzzy feelings that I got from the original 2018 game. Apart from one thing. Were the controls this complex before?
I don’t think so and I believe that’s because there were less weapons for Kratos to use and less actions for Kratos to take with those weapons. Well actually, to be fair there were the same amount of weapons, but one of them, the Blades of Chaos (great name) was introduced very late into the game. Also, I’m counting Kratos sons’/companions’ weapon as one of Kratos’ weapons because the player has active control over it, and I must mention in the original game that weapon only had one weapon form or damage state. Now Kratos’ companions (there are more companions other than Atreus this time around) have more than one weapon form/damage state and a up button press is required to switch between them. While there is also a different button press required to switch between Kratos’ weapons, The Leviathan Axe and The Blades of Chaos; and a different button press to charge each weapon up; another to aim the weapons; another to recall the weapons; one to dodge; these buttons can be held, tapped or repeatedly tapped; then there is another button press to block without confusing that button with aiming; Oh! and you can double tap block to break enemy shields; and then there is a whole range of moves straight out of a Fighting game like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat which can be completed (and sometimes required) to defeat enemies or solve puzzles.
The amount of control and choice is dizzying and sometimes I’ve died just because in a panic, as enemies swarmed me from all sides, I forgot which button did what or what combination of buttons I should have been pressing. I had to check on the controls in the options menu multiple times to get a move down right and then I had to practice them, especially the moves that required specific timing.
I won’t say I’m not enjoying the game, especially due to it’s narrative, but I can’t lie and say I haven’t been concerned. I considered that maybe this game would benefit from a keyboard where all my fingers could be laid out across the each separate key at a moments notice. Then I decided that would probably be more of a disaster as a fight against the Nidhogg became to resemble as amateur attempt at playing Chopin’s Piano Concerto while drunk.
I then thought that maybe a benefit of using a controller maybe to simplify button usage. That goes into the realm of accessibility options, but I honestly had a lot of fun with the first game without needing to have so much control over every aspect of the character.
I applaud the game developers for ambitious game mechanic creation and I hope they continue experimenting and innovating, but I hope this isn’t the only formula the game developers plan too follow.
3 thoughts on “KB/M or Controller?: Do We Need More Buttons or Less?”
For me at least, it really depends on the game. With certain games like platformers, I definitely can feel overwhelmed when there are too many buttons. In such cases, the simpler the controls the better. In other games, I personally don’t have too much issue with controls even when there are a lot of buttons to memorize. I think it may be that muscle memory with certain genres make it easier to remember the controls for me.
As far as my general thoughts on controls go, there are some games and genres that feel way better on keyboard + mouse than game controllers and vice verse. For instance, first person shooters and first person games in general are much better on keyboard + mouse while third person action games and platformers are best with a game controller in my opinion.
Other than that, the only other time I struggle with controls is when keybinds/buttons are different for the same action between two or more games. On keyboard + mouse, sometimes the player opens the inventory with i (for inventory), sometimes its b (for bag), sometimes it is another button like tab or esc. Another common one is crouching, which is sometimes ctrl, sometimes c on keyboard + mouse.
Nowadays, whenever I start a new game, especially on PC, I almost always begin by looking through and even changing the keybindings/buttons. Often before I have even begun playing the game.
I agree for the most part, specifically on the point of what games are more appropriate for what kind of input device. The ability to change key bindings on PC is at the heart of its customization features, especially when playing multiple games at a time, or just because there isn’t a universal control scheme like you mentioned. I think memorization and muscle memory occurs with practice, but when I compare the two modern God of War games I just don’t see the more complicated control scheme in the sequel actually contributing to more fun or needed added player control. Even when implemented well, I’m not sure that every button or key needs to have a dual or alternate function. I have to admit that the implementation of multi-function inputs is often innovative though.
I definitely agree with the God of War comments. I haven’t played myself, but I know what you mean. More complicated controls doesn’t always make the game more fun. I think a part of the problem is that video game sequels feel like they need to out-perform the last game in the series by improving on the last game in some way. I see this a lot with graphics. Every game wants to have super realistic looking next-gen graphics, but oftentimes they have severe optimization issues especially on the first days of the game’s release. I am always more-so a fan of stylized graphics that look good over ultra realistic graphics.
And the same is true with controls. One example I can think of, and from one of my personal favorite series, is Monster Hunter. I began with Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii. Some of the controls in the game were admittedly awful, particularly the underwater combat. But you can see that the games have gotten “flashier” and faster paced with the latest games, such as Monster Hunter Rise. Even the big, heavy, hard hitting weapons have more speed and mobility than the previous games. Of course, that also has led to more controls and things to keep track of while playing. Though to be honest, I really do enjoy a lot of the changes that Rise introduced. But the point is that sometimes the extra mechanics aren’t implemented correctly, which can ruin the game formula of the previous title(s). As much as I enjoy Rise, I also really enjoy the simplicity of the older games in the series.