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Mouse and Keyboard vs. Controller in Diablo 4 – Which is Best?

Por que no los dos?

I have had the hardest time deciding how to play Diablo 4 when it releases. Constantly during the Beta I was swapping back and forth, and I could never quite settle on either input option on PC: mouse and keyboard, or controller. After spending more time with the game during the review period, I have some pretty good arguments for each one. I’ll try to help you decide which is best for your personal time in Hell based on a few factors like comfort, precision, and more. Let’s get started.

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Should I Use a Controller For Diablo 4?

If you’re asking, let’s assume you have a controller you’re quite familiar with. It sits well in the hands, maybe you can even use it wirelessly from your couch with your PC displayed on the TV! Comfy. But there are a few pros and cons to this input method, so let’s take them both into account.

Arguments for a controller:

  • Comfort: This goes without saying, a controller is, on average, far more comfortable than sitting hunched over your mouse and keyboard (especially if you spent the day at a desk job). Nothing is better than leaning back and relaxing, especially when grinding away for loot for hours at a time.
  • Movement precision: This may be surprising, but a main draw of using a controller for Diablo 4 is actually the ability to very precisely, very quickly move your character. If you’re using a mouse, you’re constantly sweeping it from side to side to move, which is much less immediate (and much less precise) than using a thumbstick. This is essential for countering the game’s immense amount of avoidable damage – something most aRPGs stray away from.
  • Certain menus: Some menus in Diablo 4 just feel like they’re made with a controller in mind. These include the wheel menu used for emotes and some social aspects of the game, as well as the map screen.

Arguments for a keyboard and mouse:

  • Attack precision: What you’re granted in movement precision is a bit outdone by attack precision – you can no longer specify where you’d like to place, say, an area-of-effect spell directly. Rather, you’re beholden to the game’s auto-targeting system. This is certainly not a deal-breaker, but if you’re playing a ranged character it can be a bit finnicky when trying to target a specific foe amongst a crowd.
  • Certain (other) menus: The item and character screens are a bit slower to navigate on a controller, for obvious reasons. Rather than simply clicking on an item, you’re forced to slowly scroll to it using the D-pad. This can make comparing some items, or selling others, a bit more of a chore than it otherwise would be.

The Best Way to Play Diablo 4 on PC

With all things being equal, I have the perfect solution: use both. That’s right, if you’re willing to sit within arms reach of your mouse, simply hot swap between controller and mouse and keyboard when in menus, or when dealing with some ranged fights. My favored approach is to simply swap to KB&M when in town so I can quickly sell my items, scrap others, do my enchanting, whatever, then swap back to controller when in the field. Genius, I know.

If you’re reading this ahead of Diablo 4’s launch and want to know how to get into the action as soon as possible, check out our guide on how to play up to four days early right here.

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David Morgan
David is a pediatric asthma researcher at Cincinnati Children's Hospital by day, and Prima Freelancer by night. He always finds time for the games he loves, and then some more to tell you all about them.