The Xbox controller, both in the form of the Xbox One gamepad and its predecessor from the Xbox 360 have become night-universal additions for anyone wanting to play videogames on a PC. Though a lot of PC purists would insist on keyboard and mouse for controls, in virtual reality (VR) environments something simple and familiar can be extremely helpful.
Xbox One Game Pad Launch and Price
The Xbox One controller was launched alongside its parent console. The version needed for PC videogaming needs a small USB dongle to act as a wireless transmitter. The Xbox One controllers by themselves cost roughly £40 (GBP) with the Windows 10 wireless adaptors costing around £20. Some retailers will sell them as a bundle.
How to use The Xbox One Controller
The Xbox controller has native drivers in Windows 10, so installation simply involves plugging in the dongle and turning on the gamepad in order to connect, then navigating to Settings > Devices > Add Bluetooth Device. Users on Window 7 or Windows 8 will need to download additional drivers, however.
It is always necessary to check the title you are playing to see if it supports gamepad inputs. Not all VR titles do, and many HTC Vive titles prefer to use the tracked motion controllers by default. Some titles will need you to navigate through the menu to activate gamepad controller support.
Note: While the PlayStation 4 Dual Shock controllers can also be used in a similar way using a wireless adapter, Windows lacks any native driver support, so they may not always work as well as Xbox controllers.
Apps and Games Compatible with the Xbox One Game Pad
There are several apps, experiences and videogames for the HTC Vive available through Steam that support the Xbox One controller. It is not the preferred input for many titles, however, since most tend to be designed around tracked motion control. Exceptions include titles such as Elite: Dangerous, Thumper and Eagle Flight.
As usual, it is best to check the Steam entry on compatible input methods before purchase.
Long Term Applications for Xbox One Game Pad
With the steady rise in popularity of motion controllers for VR experiences, the use of Xbox One controllers for VR titles may be on the decline. Especially when the upcoming motion controller update in the form of the Knuckles Vive controller is taken into consideration. However, some applications are not suited towards motion control inputs, so it may be wise to keep an Xbox One game pad around for titles like Elite: Dangerous for the near future, at least.