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Should You Play Genshin Impact (PC) with Mouse and Keyboard, or Controller?

I recently hopped on the Genshin Impact train after several strong recommendations from coworkers. A soon as I opened the game, I faced the classic PC gaming question: should I play this game on mouse and keyboard, or plug in a controller?


Pros and cons

Much like I discovered about Monster Hunter World, Genshin Impact on PC has major pros and cons on whichever control-style you choose, and there is not an obvious winner, so it's a matter of finding which suits your needs best.


Pros of mouse and keyboard in Genshin Impact:

  • Aiming bows is much easier using a mouse instead of controller joysticks, since you have greater precision control and can adjust your mouse sensitivity to be exactly what you need.
  • Navigating to and around certain menus is arguably faster/easier, especially if you're a usual PC player.
  • More keybind options, for example you can open the map with "M" instead of using the controller-style selection wheels: Genshin Impact controller option wheel with icons for map, character, quests, inventory, and more

Cons of mouse and keyboard in Genshin Impact:

  • Overall there aren't a lot of major cons to using mouse and keyboard for Genshin Impact, so if you're already on this route or don't have a controller for PC, you'll be fine!
  • For some reason, the game does not allow you to invert the Y-axis on mouse and keyboard (but does allow you to invert it on controller). So for those of us inverted mouse players, you'll either need to get used to standard camera and aim controls, or use a controller.
  • Only recently (in late 2020) did miHoYo add the ability to edit keybinds at all, which (like mouse invert) is a standard for any modern PC game. The keybind customization isn't yet perfect or fully customizable, for example your mouse's right click is unchangeably bound to "Sprint", so you strangely cannot bind a more useful skill to your right mouse click. "Sprint" is also bound to Shift".
  • While you can adjust overall mouse sensitivity, the X-axis is much more sensititive than the Y-axis, which feels normal on a controller, but a bit less natural on a mouse when you want to look up or down and the camera is much slower than left to right. For PC MMO players. this vertical camera slowdown might feel a bit "off".

Pros of controller in Genshin Impact:

  • Once you re-map the buttons to your preferences, moving around and melee combat feels natural and comfortable, even for a primarily mouse/keyboard player.
  • Similar to Breath of the Wild, Genshin Impact is a largely "sit back and relax" game, so using a controller is a nice way to kick back and really enjoy the atmosphere.

Cons of controller in Genshin Impact:

  • As a lifelong PC gamer, aiming a ranged weapon on joysticks sucks and the sensitivity is always frustratingly too low or too high. Experienced controller players who use joystick accessories (hello, KontrolFreek!) would have a much easier time aiming.
  • When playing on keyboard or mobile, there is an input for "Switch to Party Member and Use Elemental Burst", which activates a mid-fight cinematic of your character swapping in to the fight and using their Burst ability. On controller, there is no keybind to do this (yet).
  • Rotating the camera around using a joystick is annoyingly slower than with a mouse, even with the controller camera sentitivity set to max. This is especially frustrating in battles, when you need to be moving, rotating the camera, and attacking at the same time.
  • The initial button mappings seemed a bit strange, with default choices like "A = Back" and "B = Confirm". Luckily, there is an option to swap this functionality. I hope this options menu doesn't break your brain as much as it did mine: Genshin Impact controller controls menu option for "A Confirm B Cancel" and "B Confirm A Cancel"
  • Not all menus are controller-friendly, requiring you to use a mouse. I've experienced bugs with this functionality where the game forces me to use a mouse, but the cursor is invisible, so I'm left frantically clicking around trying to back out of a menu.
  • When you switch to "controller" in the game options, keyboard and mouse input for the game is entirely shut off, and the only way to change it back is with a controller. So while you can use non-game functions like Alt+Tab, you won't be able to navigate around settings menu change the option back to "keyboard" unless you are using a controller, which can get annoying.

Verdict

Ultimately, Genshin Impact is viable on either mouse and keyboard or controller, so the choice is primarily up to your preference. With that said:

  • Almost every PC game has an option to invert the mouse's Y-axis or change all keybinds, and adding this option would make Genshin Impact much more playable.
  • There are some real downsides to both options, so the choice should ultimately come down to which downsides annoy you less.
  • Let's hope that Genshin Impact adds better input functionality (I.E. allowing keyboard and controller inputs in menus, and better keybind customization) to make the experience more viable for everyone!

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