Attack of the Fanboy

Destiny 2’s First Try at Mouse and Keyboard Controls was a Disaster

by Kyle Hanson


In preparation for the launch of Destiny 2 on PC Activision flew me out to Bungie HQ to take a look at the game. You can read some of my thoughts here, and we’ll have a full review once the game arrives. Outside of playing the game I also got to chat with some of the devs behind this build during a roundtable Q&A. TDuring that session, one of the things that surprised me and apparently the developers, was how bad the PC controls were when they first started testing things on mouse and keyboard.

We wanted this to feel like Destiny 2, we wanted it to play like Destiny 2, we wanted this to be a Bungie game

Closing out our Q&A session with Bungie and Vicarious Visions, the one where we learned that Destiny 2 PC could get its own updates, I asked a fairly open ended question. “Were there any surprises during development” could be the summary.

“I was really surprised by how bad our original keyboard implementation was,” said Vicarious Visions’ Thomas Gawrys. “It was pretty bad! Not to say our devs aren’t good, it just…” He trailed off, but others had picked up the thread.

“To be fair,” explained Destiny 2 PC lead David Shaw, “what we did was we basically took the game with all the controller stuff in it, and what we did was basically add what I would call “naive mouse and keyboard controls. We just said ‘OK, we’ll put mouse and keyboard in and we’ll map it to what the controller does, and then let’s go play it. And to Thomas’ point, that felt pretty shitty. It was not tuned for mouse and keyboard at all. Then we put months, literally months of work into constantly reiterating.”


Shaw then explained that the team had a list of challenges that they thought would come up during the making of Destiny 2 on PC, then they set about fixing them. One was, for example, how recoil works. On console, the gun’s recoil can send the reticle up and leave it there, with the player tasked with moving it back down by tapping or holding the analog stick. On PC this doesn’t work, as you’d end up pushing your mouse off your desk.

“There’s a standard for how a first-person shooter feels with mouse and keyboard,”said Destiny 2 Production Lead Jeff Guy. “There’s an instinct to jump right to that, but we wanted this to feel like Destiny 2, we wanted it to play like Destiny 2, we wanted this to be a Bungie game. So there was tons of iteration, and tons of playing the game. Over and over and over again until we felt like we were at a point where this feels and plays like Destiny 2, and it feels and plays like a PC shooter.”

You’d think taking a shooter and putting it onto PC would be the easiest thing in game development. Of course, on this side of the equation (press and players) everything seems like the easiest thing in game development. Just flip this switch, write this code, or make this asset, and everything will be solved. Of course, real game development is hard work, and we don’t appreciate it enough in this age of AAA domination and an overabundance of games to choose from. So it was nice to hear about these sorts of challenges, that we never even get a hint of while playing the finished product.

Destiny 2 hits PC on October 24th.

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