I'm currently putting the finishing touches to our Titanfall review (spoiler alert: it's really rather good), but during the hours I spent scampering over rooftops, rodeo-riding massive robots and pulverising squads of panicky grunts with a titanic war machine, I kept feeling that something wasn't quite right. Something just felt... off... somehow, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
Then I plugged in a wired Xbox 360 controller and everything suddenly clicked. It's hard to put a personal feeling like this into words, but I'm going to try - because I'd urge you to try when the anticipated shooter launches tomorrow.
Before we begin, I suppose I should make a few things very clear - in the interests of full disclosure and ensuring that overly precious fanboys don't get the wrong end of the stick. Titanfall works perfectly well using a mouse and keyboard. Of course it does. There's no denying the extra precision that a mouse affords, especially when hanging back and sniping from rooftops, while the well-oiled gameplay is fantastic fun regardless of your control scheme of choice.
I'm also not suggesting that the Xbox One version is superior to its PC counterpart on the merits of its peripheral... because I'm actually talking about the PC version here. All clear? Good. Then let's commence.
Titanfall is eminently playable using a mouse and keyboard, which is testament to Respawn's undeniable skill, but it's specifically designed around a controller. Like Modern Warfare, Titanfall is very much a console game, built to embrace the more limited inputs of a gamepad's triggers, face buttons and D-Pad. Everything is streamlined to perfection, from weapon selection to movement and even the big friendly menus (that annoyingly lack drag and drop functionality for Burn Cards), putting all of the commands directly under your finger and thumbtips. Regardless, setting melee to 'C' was a horrible idea - rebind that ASAP before your first match.
In short-to-mid ranged combat, Titanfall's bread and butter, the spot-on sensitivity allowed me a range of motion that often felt like an advantage against my opponents. Despite favouring mouse/keyboard in every other PC shooter, from Planetside 2 to Quake and Battlefield 4, I found that Titanfall just feels that little bit more at home with a gamepad in hand.
The all-important parkour also feels much more natural on a controller. It's a platformer in many ways, using familiar elements we've grown used to over years of console gaming. Double jumps. Wall runs and grabs. The slick and fluid mechanics are designed to be generous and effortless to chain together, and hang together so brilliantly on a gamepad, like any great platformer does. Again, it's hard to describe, but for me it's a little like trying to play Rayman Legends with the arrow keys; perfectly possible yet not entirely ideal.
And then we have to talk vibration. The only thing more satisfying than watching your Titan thunder through the atmosphere and slam into the ground, or shredding SPECTRE squads to pieces with a machine gun the size of a family sedan, is feeling it too. Trust me on this.
The best thing is that you don't have to choose one or the other. If you have a wired Xbox 360 controller or even a Dualshock 4, you can plug it in and experiment with both over the course of the same match, switching between the two to suit your combat role. On the rare occasions I use a Longbow sniper rifle, I put the pad to one side during the respawn process and grab for the mouse, then leap back onto my controller after swapping to my preferred silenced carbine loadout.
At the end of the day, I'd just urge you to try it. Have a go. See what you think. And once you do, get back here and blast my opinion wide open if you want to. Our full review will be going live very soon - but until then, don't knock it 'til you've tried it.
That said, if you've played the beta, get involved right now and tell me what you think!