Mobile Shooters: The Quest for the Perfect Touch Control Layout

Standard

With the release of console and PC ports of games like Fortnite and PUBG; this is a clear sign that mobile shooters have come a long way, and this also shows the continuing and rapidly rising significance of mobile gaming. Graphics evolve as does requirements and games that are accessible for all of us and some games manage to raise the bar. But there’s something that’s been more of a hit or miss in the mobile scene…

Controls

Yes it’s the controls. With the lack of physical buttons, of course the touchscreen has got to make it work. And existing touch controls is more or less a game changer or a deal breaker. Of course there would be wireless controllers but what if you don’t have access to a controller?

Then that means you’d have to stick with touch controls. I observed that for most games it’s manageable for single player experiences usually, but for multiplayer wherein reflex and precision controls are necessary; it’s rather clunky as the standard is like what you’ll see with most games like NOVA 3, Modern Combat 5, Dead Trigger 2 and so on.

There’s something similar with the controls no? Right here you could see the touchscreen standard layout for shooter games which places the fire button usually on the right or activated by double tapping. That’s also where the aiming or camera control is including the majority of functions such as jumping, reloading and more.

Sure there are gyro controls but not every phone has a gyroscope. Accelerometer based aiming is wonky too and you’d know it when you’re commuting; things get shaky. Some have lived with it but you can agree with me here that it could be better right?

What we’re waiting for here is a breakthrough or a revolution like how it was when FPS games on the PC were reliant on keyboard only controls until one guy reinvented the control scheme by using WASD and mouse aiming at a Quake tournament. How is that possible?

SEE ALSO:

How WASD became the standard PC control scheme

via PC Gamer

Control Customization

I have to give credit to devs that thought of giving players the freedom to rearrange buttons layouts. It’s a damn good idea if you ask me and it’s a step to the right direction. Why is it? Button customization can give birth to a new standard.

It gave you the freedom to change the default keys. And that freedom spawned us the WASD control scheme which is synonymous with PC gaming. It feels natural.

Now in the mobile scene, I could say that it will only be a matter of time when somebody uses an unusual control scheme and makes it popular because it works so well and from then on; it would be the next control layout standard for mobile shooters.

My personal quest for a good layout

I can really say that I’m not the type of person that finds a default control method that makes me more or less a cripple fun. Whereas in a console or PC version I’m a killing machine. It really takes so much out of the experience.

So yeah, this quest of mine started two years ago when I got a new android phone. An Acer Liquid z530. I was pretty stoked because I’ve been dying to play the mobile port of Counter Strike 1.6 (Yes it exists) and I also got a gamepad to boot.

counter-strike-1-6-android.png

Look at that horrible control scheme

Knowing CS 1.6 you’re damn sure that it’s not optimal to use a physical controller because it was designed for a keyboard and mouse. I tried anyway and yes you’ve guessed it right.

It sucks as it lacks button even if I used the touch controls to have extra buttons for other commands. And the analog stick aiming is rather imprecise so I usually get killed off. I did notice the touchscreen is as responsive as a trackpad or mouse so I gave it another go. This time; no controller.

The Experience

Initial experience was a total chore, it’s hard to aim and shoot at the same time or moving and firing at the same time. Both of which are essential when things get hairy.

Then I thought; “Good, I can customize the controls now how the hell would I make it feel natural?” I fiddled with the controls and noticed that the touch aiming is really precise if the sensitivity is set right. Now how about the firing and the other buttons?

I remembered Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on the PSP, back then to control the camera it was common to see a dedicated player to use their index finger and form a claw to press the directional buttons.

MHFU.jpg

Now you’d ask, “how the hell is an ARPG game related to my search for a nice custom control scheme?” Simple. It’s the clawing.

Here’s how I set up my controls for CS 1.6

Screenshot_2017-08-30-12-46-11.png

Nice and easy

You can see that the fire button on the left is prominent and there’s also the secondary fire button and the use key

The reason I set it up like this is that it lets me focus my right thumb on aiming and other actions and doing it just like I was using a controller. It feels intuitive.

The shooting takes a little while to get used to but after a few rounds it started to feel very right. My benchmark? Being able to fight bots mano a mano. It was quite an achievement. Even a real player online accused me of using a mouse and keyboard. It was pretty flattering to be honest.

Winning that chicken dinner on mobile

Just a month ago, when PUBG mobile was announced I was intrigued, but I lacked a decent phone to run it and I just had an upgrade just over a week ago. Fortnite was also in but I found the lack of l custom controls disturbing. That said; I just started playing PUBG last Saturday.

I scanned the settings first and I found out that custom controls are possible. I wasted no time configuring it and made it look and feel like my own control scheme in CS 1.6

These are all three configurations I used and improved over the course of three to four games.

The results:

Not bad at all isn’t it?

Of course there are matches wherein I just got in the top 10 to 5 (on bad days).

There might be bots sure, but as a first timer and a new initiate to PUBG this is quite a feat that this control layout gave me.

I held my own great on solo mode too. They fire at me, I fire back while moving to cover. That way I won’t be an easy target.

In case you were wondering how I hold my phone, check my uploaded image on Imgur .

So far so good for some games

This control layout I’ve been using is working wonders for me and it had me looking forward for more competitive shooters on the mobile. And I do hope that customizable controls would be a thing for future mobile shooters.

I encourage you to try this out and tell me what you think. Have fun while at it.

Though for Fortnite, I’m not doing so well. It doesn’t give me that level of customization yet. Maybe in a patch soon?

If that won’t happen, well that’s just a fine port wasted.

So, do you think the old two thumb layout is obsolete? Should button customization be a thing for upcoming multiplayer mobile shooters?

Opinions? Do leave a comment below!

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