Home Editorial A not-so-subtle transition: Console to PC and back again

In my relative absence from our dear T3, I’ve done a fair bit of actual gaming. Nothing in my experiences brought about a need for an article, though finals week and graduation may have had something to do with it, too.

Regardless, as some of you may know, I play on both consoles and the PC.

And that got me thinking the differences between both platforms and how a gamer’s skill might transfer between them.

 

The two-stick figure

Many, if not most, gamers nowadays begin their experience on the consoles. The reason is simple: accessibility. From price to simplicity of interaction (such as it is), there’s really no beating an expensive box of sand constructed for the sole purpose of playing videogames. Even at launch, when the newest tech costs 599 US Dollars, it still beats a modest gaming PC, which might go for $700, if the buyer’s savvy.

Then there’s the games themselves. While developers need to sacrifice graphical fidelity, offer DLC to compensate for disc memory limitations, and limit player counts in multiplayer, their job is still easier than a PC title. You’ve heard it before: having a stable hardware platform to code for year after year is easier than needing to account for every gaming computer build this side of Yuggoth*.

With a larger potential user base as well as a more streamlined design process, it’s easy to see why the SexBawx, PissTree, and WeeWee are as popular as they are. The limitations created by old hardware mostly leads to innovation on the control side, and as we all know, there are only two sticks and around four buttons needed to do just about anything.

 

The throne of the master race

Not to be outdone by five year old hardware, the PC has its own perks consoles simply can’t afford. Graphics, sound, movement, map size, file size, bindings, mods, “easier” patch support, the list goes on as to what the Pussy Cat has compared to the consolololol.

More importantly, perhaps, is the mindset of the Personal Cock-block’s playerbase. While there is a small portion of, say, Call of Duty players still playing nothing but CoD4 on the XBOX, or Gears 1, or whatever big multiplayer title, the vast minority moves on with each new title. Two hundred thousand players online at once on MW3 doesn’t bode well for CoD2, for example.

The same cannot be said for the PC community. A different two hundred thousand people play Counter-Strike, CS: Source, or CS: Global Offensive, and will for many years to come. 1.6 is over a decade old, and CS:S approaches that age with each passing day. Yet the games still rack up the user-count every single day. CoD4, to use the previous example, still boasts thousands of players, many of them in the stock game, many more in Promod. CoD2 has a thriving community, as does Team Fortress 2, any of the previous Battlefields, the old Quake’s and Unreal’s. Even Crysis 2 and Homefront have a few dedicated hangers on, and those games died within months.

While new games certainly draw away veteran players in search of a little freshness, a large portion of those who ventured out will inevitably return to their old stomping grounds, ready to forget all the newfangled bullhockey. And new players entering the PC space for the first time will of course be drawn back in time to those games that defined their favored genre. There some of them will stay, waiting for the next acolytes to arrive.

 

A bridge across a boundless sea

No, I can’t build one. There will always be those who contend their console is better than all others and anyone who thinks otherwise must most assuredly be mentally deficient. Regardless, I have, and do, traverse that sea on a regular basis. I know for a fact that while the transition is jarring, it’s not so much the game that I have to blame: it’s me.

Case in point: the controls and pacing. I recently bought MW2 for PC because there’s a dedicated server service that removes (most of) the hit detection shenanigans. I cannot stress how different the game feels with a mouse and keyboard. The whole game moves at twice the speed of consoles, my aim is better, and I’m free to attempt things I could never do with two thumbsticks. Even though the mouse acceleration gets me killed, I’m adapting.

Regardless, I didn’t come into the game dumb, deaf, and blind. Because I have a few days on consoles, I know the maps. I know the feel of the guns, the general movement speed, what perks are most effective, which classes are made of cheese and which are kosher, and so on. The shift from console to PC, in this case, was relatively painless. The knowledge and skills I acquired with a controller applied to a mouse and keyboard. All I needed to do was adapt my hand-eye coordination to a different setting.

 

Learning the ropes

The argument some of you probably consider is: what about some console noob/PC elitist who’s never used a mouse and keyboard, or controller, before? Well, for those people, the transition is probably quite a bit harder. I have almost five years with the KB&M and around two with the sticks, and I’m still not even near my peak on the consoles. I’ve seen my best on PC, and I’m rather satisfied. But going from Killzone 2 to Team Fortress 2 was, I admit, very difficult. My aim was piss poor, and I got my ass handed to me on more than a hundred occasions.

In short, my counter-argument to the above is what you’ll hear as a newcomer: take your lumps and learn. No one is great at something the first time they try it. Oh, they might be good. They might have great moments, but they’re rarely consistant. If you gained some knowledge on one platform and you play the same or simliar game on another, that information hasn’t changed at all. The maps don’t change, the levels and story don’t get any longer or shorter, and the weapons have the same characteristics, if they came with the game. If you don’t like PC or you don’t like console, great, play your what you prefer. As long as most developers continue to make cross-platform titles, know that what you learn with a controller might not be so different from what you learn with a keyboard and mouse.

 

*Brownie points for those who get the reference.

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2 replies to this post
  1. Good article. I’m a PC gamer myself, though I’m trying to decide if I should upgrade to an actual gaming computer instead of a laptop that I play all of my games on. :P I actually was thinking of the community for XBOX and PC the other way around. AC: Revelations has barely any more PC players, and since it’s one of my favorite multiplayers that bums me out. There was a hardcore group of Battlefront II people when I played the game, and that was fun. I dunno, I’ve been trying to decide if I should go over to XBOX, but in the long run I think I’ll just stay PC.

  2. Man, I wish Quake 3 and Battlefield 2142 still had thriving communities. They sure don’t. Even Quake Live is mostly dead.

    As for the experience of switching: I always felt like learning the ropes of BF on the PC made my console experience with BC2 a LOT easier. Spent a few hours learning to do most of what I wanted on the control stick, kept my experience at dealing with more advanced tactics than any of my opponents could ever attempt.

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