MechWarrior Casual // Piloting with a Joystick
Piloting with a Joystick
The last few months I have been using a joystick to pilot my mech, and I know what you are thinking. “Why would you use a joystick over a mouse and keyboard!!” Well let me tell you.
I still use a mouse. I use a joystick to take over all movement and navigation of my mech. I still use my mouse to aim and control the cockpit of my mech, instead I use a joystick to handle the throttle and legs. Using a joystick over a keyboard has its benefits. However using a joystick does take some getting used to, but once you get it down you will never want to go back to a keyboard when playing MWO.
Using a joystick to maneuver gives you much more precise and control over your speed. With the keyboard you either have throttle decay on you are given the least control, pressing W puts you into full speed while releasing puts you into a full stop. With throttle decay on you have a much better control over your speed, able to fine tune it how you need, however its still not very precise. You are always going at one steady speed. Having a Joystick you can go one steady speed and slowly bring you speed down at a rate of your choose or accelerate at a rate of your choosing. You can spring around a turn going very slow and steadily raise your speed so that you are sprinting by the time you come full circle. This isn’t impossible with a keyboard, it’s just not as intuitive and easily done, normally your running full throttle or not at all.
Turning speed is another great improvement. Normally when you use a keyboard to turn you press either A or D to change the direction of your legs. Pressing A and D sends an input of only ON or OFF. This means that when you press A or D to turn, you are going to be turning at maximum speed. With a joystick this is not an issue, you can turn your legs as slow or fast as you want giving you much more maneuverability.
Depending on how you generally play MWO this may or may not be an improvement for you. For me though, when I played with a keyboard I only used 4 buttons on my mouse for my weapon groups which was usually pretty decent and worked well. Since moving to a joystick I was given many more options. I now use only 3 buttons on my mouse and 3 buttons on my joystick. One of the buttons on my joystick being the key command to perform an alpha strike without actually having an alpha strike weapon group set up on my mouse. Some people are able to use the keyboard for weapon firing, but for me, coming from many FPS’s firing from the keyboard did not sit well.
Using a joystick even if its just one joystick for maneuvering made MWO so much more fun for me now. The game was always fun to begin with but using a joystick made you feel like you were actually piloting giant robot. When I first got this joystick in the mail I wasn’t sure if I was going to like playing MWO with one or not, sort of a gamble. As of now, I can 100% positively say I will never play MWO without a joystick for maneuvering.
Learning to switch from a keyboard to a joystick has a small learning curve which will take some time to get used to. For example, reversing and turning with a joystick can feel confusing at times coming from a keyboard even though it is the same logic. For me, getting fully used to using a joystick took me about 5-10 games, the nice thing is I can still use a keyboard to play just as well as I could before I got a joystick.
Depending on your set up, you may need to move your keyboard out of the way to make way for your joystick while playing. I find that if you are still going to use a mouse to aim (which you should) then you are going to want your joystck to be just as far away from your body as your mouse. If you watch the video below you will see what I’m talking about. The downside to this is if you are pugging and trying to talk via text, depending on where you have to move your keyboard to; it may not be easy to do.
If your joystick were to break, you may have withdrawals. Having to go back to the keyboard world, upon death in MWO, you may find yourself thinking about how you could have won that fight if only you had your trusty joystick. How the game just doesn’t feel the same anymore. How you were unable to maneuver at your best because of your now keyboard gimp. With time this will pass, because you will probably buy a new joystick.
Choosing your Joystick
Choosing your joystick of choice can be hard and confusing those never having dealt with them before. Joystick can range from really cheap (less than $100) to very expensive (upwards $200). However for MWO you shouldn’t need a top notch flight stick, instead you can get away with a fairly cheap joystick and get very good results.
■ Normally a joystick replaces the mouse and you would get a joystick designed for whichever your mouse hand is. In the case of MWO you are going to want to get a joystick designed for your keyboard hand. The majority of people (including myself) use a right handed mouse and thus would need a left hand designed joystick.
■ Before you go out and just buy a joystick, make sure you read reviews for whichever ones you are looking. Their are really shitty joysticks out there disguised to look good, and then there are really good ones that may appear to be shitty. If you read reviews, you can’t really go wrong.
■ If you have never used joysticks before and are new to buying them, I would recommend buying the Thrustmaster T16000M; I promise it’s not a sex toy. This joystick only costs $45 on Amazon and integrates with MWO without issue, and for the price, is very much worth it. The other nice thing about this stick is that it can be used on both your left and right hand. So now you have a joystick that can not only be used with MWO but for any other game that may require a joystick in your opposite hand.
(sorry for the low quality, this is also just an example of what it looks like)