Valve has added features to its support of Microsoft’s suite of Xbox controllers, including improved button mapping for Elite and Series X gamepads.
Valve has announced an update for Steam that improves support for the new controllers included with the Xbox Series X. Microsoft’s suite of Xbox controllers has become the go-to standard for PC gamers looking for a comfortable alternative to keyboard and mouse since the days of the Xbox 360. Windows includes easy to use drivers to hook up the gamepads, and Valve eventually implemented a finer control over the hardware as part of its support for the company’s own Steam Controller back in late 2015. While Valve no longer produces its own gamepad, it has continued to update and add new options for gamepads from all other manufacturers that support PC gaming.
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The Xbox Series X controller is a largely iterative affair that adds a few small features to the base Xbox One design. Outside of a new share button and some better texturing on the grips, it’s largely the same gamepad that Xbox gamers have been using for years. This is why it worked perfectly fine on launch with a PC. Because it has the same layout, Steam can adapt the same community-contributed button layouts for its library and treat it as an Xbox One controller. Now, a few months after launch, Valve has ensured that the full functionality of the device is adaptable to the PC platform.
In its latest beta update, Valve has added in the feature of the Series X controller that Steam has been missing since November. Players and developers can now include the share button in their game configurations, adding another option for games with complex PC-friendly controls. Games that support the Windows Gaming Input API now also have access to the Xbox’s rumble triggers, which is shown off heavily in driving titles and certain shooters. In addition to the Series X gamepads, those with an Xbox Elite controller can now map the paddle buttons to different functions on Steam. Finally, players can now add more than four Xbox controllers at a time to a Steam session, making for some impressively massive multiplayer sessions.
Outside of the Xbox updates, Valve also has a few other controller updates ready for Steam. Those on the Sony side of the fence can now customize the DualSense’s LED light by either turning it off or turning it on only when there are multiple controllers hooked up. This is useful for identifying different players in multiplayer games, similar to the Xbox 360 controller’s ring design. Gamers with HOTAS setups and the Logitech G15 keyboard now also have the option to assign controls via Steam’s generic controller configuration, which can be useful for playing older games with nonstandard devices.
Whether using the latest gamepads or something that was thrown in the closet years earlier, Steam has led the way when it comes to playing PC games with proper gaming inputs. While there will always be a contingent who prefer mouse and keyboard controls, gaming has become standardized around the controller, and almost all new releases support that option for gameplay. The PC platform has come a long way from mismanaged ports of PlayStation hits, and computer games integrating Xbox accessories is one sign of a future where the games are much more important than the hardware they’re played on.
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