While most PC gamers prefer to use a mouse and keyboard, some PC games benefit from being played with a controller.
This is especially true for genres like racing, fighting, platformers, and third-person shooters as well as any game that was originally designed for consoles.
To help narrow down your options, we’re highlighting the best PC games to play with a controller in 2023, including PC games that support Xbox and PlayStation controllers.
If you have any other suggestions for controller-friendly PC games, make sure to leave a comment and check back for future updates!
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Forza Horizon 5
Although a racing wheel will always be the preferred choice for immersive driving sims, a standard controller is suitable for arcade racing games like Forza Horizon 5.
You’ll find that cars in these games are a lot easier to steer using joysticks rather than a keyboard and mouse, and the control layout feels more intuitive on a controller.
Forza Horizon 5 is a great game to test this theory simply for the fact it’s a very chill and relaxing game that lets you explore the open world at your own pace.
It also offers a wide array of racing events, unlockable vehicles, and gorgeous environments based on real-world locations in Mexico.
Next up, Psychonauts 2 is a 3D platformer that benefits from using a controller as players can more easily pull off precise jumps, attacks, and maneuvers.
To this point, the game features a robust combat system that requires you to react quickly and swap between different Psi-powers on the fly via an in-game menu wheel.
While this is achievable on a mouse and keyboard, after spending just a few minutes with Psychonauts 2, it becomes obvious the game was meant to be played with a controller.
This allows you to take better advantage of Raz’s abilities and quickly navigate environments to collect new items and memories to advance the story.
Sports games are typically meant to be played with a controller, including the indie snowboarding sim Shredders which released for Xbox consoles and PC in March 2022.
So much so that the game includes a disclaimer stating that a controller is required to play since keyboard and mouse aren’t supported.
In it, you take on the role of an up-and-coming snowboarder looking to break into the scene by competing at the biggest event of the year.
Outside of its story mode, Shredders features free-roaming and online multiplayer modes where you and your friends can practice tricks as you carve up mountains.
Considering Metroidvanias got their start on consoles, it makes sense that the vast majority play better with a traditional gamepad.
One of our favorites has to be Unsighted, a top-down indie action RPG that sees you playing as a cyber-enhanced automaton in a dystopian world taken over by machines.
The game offers challenging combat with demanding bossfights, precise platforming, and a deep arsenal of wieldable weapons that handle best with a controller.
If not for anything else, Unsighted is worth playing through to be rewarded with gritty sci-fi visuals and storytelling that’s further complimented by stunning pixel art.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Despite launching in a rather rough state, Horizon Zero Dawn’s PC port runs a lot better these days thanks to a slew of patches addressing the technical hiccups players were experiencing.
However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the game’s core design, which encourages you to play with a controller as it was originally intended on PlayStation 4.
In it, you play as a hunter inhabiting a post-apocalyptic world where humans and machines struggle to live in harmony with each other.
Throughout the game, players can unlock new weapons, gadgets, and tools that allow Aloy to tackle challenges, befriend the machines, and help her tribe.
Monster Hunter Series
Conceived as a console action RPG, the Monster Hunter series has always played better with a controller though there are some benefits to using a mouse and keyboard.
This includes being able to seamlessly navigate through the game’s detailed menus as well as increased accuracy with ranged weapons like the light and heavy bowguns.
However, if you’re playing with any melee weapons, you’re better off using a controller as it allows you to pull off combos and deal consistent damage more easily.
There are currently two Monster Hunter games available on PC: Monster Hunter World and Monster Hunter Rise, with the latter being the more recent entry.
Cuphead is a brutally difficult 2D platformer with expressive hand-drawn visuals and gameplay inspired by the hardcore run-n-gun games of the 1980s.
As such, it features some especially tough boss fights that require quick reflexes and paying close attention to your enemy’s attack animations.
Furthermore, it’s best played with a controller as the timing for attacks, jumps, and parries can be quite unforgiving for anyone using a mouse and keyboard.
Even then, players can expect each boss to take numerous attempts to fell as they go through multiple attack phases that ramp up in difficulty and chaos.
Assassin’s Creed Series
Although Assassin’s Creed is generally associated with its console releases, the series has been available on PC as far back as 2008.
So while each entry may support both input types, there’s no benefit to playing Assassin’s Creed with a keyboard and mouse over a controller.
This is due to the streamlined nature of each game’s stealth and movement systems that don’t generally call for the kind of pinpoint precision afforded by a gaming mouse.
Most missions in the earlier games boil down to following targets, eavesdropping, scaling buildings, and hiding bodies.
Hades is a narrative-driven, roguelike dungeon crawler that’s better suited for a controller with a few exceptions.
Much like Monster Hunter, some ranged weapons in Hades benefit from using a mouse and keyboard, especially if you’re the kind of player who prefers not to use auto-aiming.
Outside of that, it’s best recommended you play the game using a traditional gamepad as it makes both combat and traversal feel more fluid and responsive.
This comes in handy during later levels where enemies are a lot more relentless and require you to frequently dodge and maneuver just to keep Zagreus alive.
Combining rogue-lite progression with Metroidvania exploration and souls-inspired combat, Dead Cells is a fantastic recommendation for PC gaming with a controller.
In it, you’re tasked with venturing into harrowing pixel art environments filled with aggressive enemies, deadly traps, and secret pathways.
Each death sees you returning to where you started only with a bit more resources and wisdom to push forward and make it even further on your next run.
The game’s 2D design naturally lends itself to being played with a controller where you can more easily dodge enemy attacks and capitalize with your own.
Batman: Arkham Series
Another third-person action stealth franchise that can be comfortably enjoyed with a controller is the Batman: Arkham series consisting of four games where you play as the DC hero.
The main reason why these games play better with a controller is due to their auto-targeting mechanics which allow for seamless combat and traversal.
During battles, controller players can rely on Arkham’s free-flowing fighting system to pull off dazzling combos using Batman’s punches, kicks, and powerful gadgets.
This is much harder to achieve using a mouse and keyboard, especially if you want to be effective in battle while looking like a cool superhero.
FromSoftware has a solid track record for including keyboard and mouse support with each game they produce and Elden Ring is no different.
With that said, the game’s demanding nature lends itself to being played with a controller as you can more easily anticipate and dodge incoming attacks.
Add to this your character’s health and mana meters which must be replenished using potions at the drop of hat, and it’s clear to see why easy-to-reach controls are desirable.
PC players can take things even further by installing a host of Elden Ring mods that improve the controller experience with UI changes.
Dark Souls Series
Of course, Elden Ring is far from the only Soulslike title to support controllers along with pretty much every peripheral known to man if you’re dedicated enough to try.
While some players swear by mouse and keyboard, the vast majority will prefer using a traditional controller to play through the Dark Souls series.
Aside from being more comfortable to hold during tense boss battles, a controller gives you quick access to your character’s equipment, attack, and dodge buttons.
By no means does this make the gameplay any less difficult but rather provides the player with a few conveniences that make for an overall better experience.
Deep Rock Galactic
Deep Rock Galactic is one of the few first-person shooters that we would much rather play with a controller than mouse and keyboard for the sake of convenience.
Over the years, developer Ghost Ship Games has refined the game’s UI and controls to create a welcoming environment for those who prefer to use a gamepad.
Additionally, since it’s strictly a PvE title, you don’t have to worry about being at a disadvantage against other players using a standard mouse and keyboard setup.
In it, teams of up to 4 players explore elaborate cave systems in search of precious minerals and ores while battling waves of alien bugs using class-based weapons and equipment.
A Hat In Time
Next on our list is the critically-acclaimed indie 3D platformer A Hat in Time, which draws its influence from iconic console games like Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie.
Much like the titles it’s emulating, A Hat in Time is meant to be played with a controller but still recognizes mouse and keyboard inputs.
The story centers on a young pilot tasked with traveling from planet to planet collecting magical hourglasses to power her spaceship.
Gameplay revolves around manipulating objects and performing precise platforming maneuvers that are tailor-made for controller inputs.
It Takes Two
Built from the ground up for co-op, It Takes Two is a third-person action platformer where two players control a husband and wife in an unhappy marriage.
Not soon after, the pair is magically transformed into their daughter’s dolls and must put their differences aside to get back to their normal human bodies.
This is done by overcoming a wide range of obstacles across several levels that include platforming challenges, environmental puzzles, and bossfights.
It’s recommended players use a controller for It Takes Two as certain character actions are much trickier to pull off using a mouse and keyboard.
Tomb Raider Series
Tomb Raider’s PC legacy dates back to the mid-nineties through to the more recent rebooted trilogy that concluded with Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
While each game supports standard mouse and keyboard controls, the advantages of playing Tomb Raider with a controller cannot be disputed.
From basic actions like walking, swimming, and climbing to firing weapons and hiding behind cover, Tomb Raider is a controller game through and through.
The game does a great job of conveying this to the player by assigning each of Lara’s weapons to a different direction on the D-pad by default.
Our final suggestion for PC games to play with a controller is Psyonix’s hit soccer-with-cars sports title Rocket League.
While the game has always supported mouse and keyboard, you’ll find most players prefer to use a controller.
This can be attributed to Rocket League’s close association with the PlayStation platform, which is where it was originally released.
Playing with a controller makes a lot more sense too since it provides better control for aerial maneuvers and 360-degree rotations.