The Console Gamer’s Guide to Playing PC
There’s a mantra that’s popular with PC gamers: on the same game, a PC gamer will always dominate an equal-skilled console gamer. Why do PC gamers believe that? Because they think that the PC platform is stronger, faster, and more responsive than what any console can offer.
Alright, so a keyboard and mouse might not be as ergonomic as a console controller. But there are definitely some benefits to gaming on a PC, including hardware upgradability, responsiveness, and accuracy.
If you’re a lifelong console gamer, why not try your hand at the PC gaming medium? It’s not as hard as you might think. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you through the transition.
Learn the Hardware
You could read a whole book on how computers work and on the technical aspects of PC gaming. We’ll try and keep it simple for you. A computer is full of different components, but there are four pieces of hardware that are most important when you’re playing a PC game. They are:
- Central processing unit (CPU)
- Graphics processing unit (GPU)
- Random access memory (RAM)
- Ventilation system
Sure, all of these components are vital to a console, but unlike consoles, PC hardware is constantly upgrading. Since your CPU, or just, “the processor” is responsible for carrying out every function in a game, it’s vital to ensure its up-to-date. Do the research when purchasing your CPU. A good processor has multiple cores and can multi-thread; long story short, multiple cores and multi-threading mean that CPU can carry out more tasks simultaneously, which makes your game perform faster.
The GPU is tasked with displaying images on your computer screen. Simple, right? Actually, there is a wide-ranging debate about the best graphics processors and it can have a real impact on how the game looks on your screen. Having a good GPU will help you run high-resolution graphics and will help your game perform faster and more smoothly.
By now, almost everyone knows what RAM is. In case you’re one of the few that doesn’t, RAM is your computer’s short-term memory, and it’s responsible for performing the current tasks on any computer. Most consoles use it to brag about how much their system can handle, but PCs dwarf console capabilities when it comes to RAM. The more RAM you have, the more tasks your computer can carry out, which will improve your gaming performance. 8 GB RAM is adequate, but the better gaming rigs will have 16 GB RAM installed.
Lastly, PC games work your computer pretty hard, so it’s important for your computer to have a good ventilation system so that the hardware doesn’t overheat. Your PS4 or Xbox definitely has this component built-in but it’s the first thing new PC gamers forget when trying to build their own rig. Don’t skimp on your cooling system, it’s vital if your PC starts to overheat.
At the end of the day, a computer has much the same hardware as a video game console, so you probably already have a loose idea of what you need. It even might make you question why PC gamers place so much more of an emphasis on hardware than a console gamer. The simple answer is this: PC hardware is always upgrading and is easy to swap out for the latest and greatest. It’s much easier to open a tower desktop and swap out components than it is to open up a gaming console, and most gaming consoles are too intricate to upgrade, anyway. Upgradability is one of the benefits of PC gaming. Your hardware could potentially never go out of date.
Learn the Peripherals
On a gaming console, the controller is really the only peripheral you have for most games. On a PC, you have two main peripherals: the mouse and the keyboard. They give a much different feel than a gaming controller. If you want something a little bit more hand, wrist, and finger-friendly, try using an ergonomic gaming keyboard or gaming mouse.
Learn the Controls
This is definitely the most difficult part of transitioning from console gaming to PC gaming. A keyboard has tons of different keys that can be utilized, and they’re not arranged in an ergonomically-concise way. Or so it appears.
In most PC games, the movement buttons are relegated to the left side of the keyboard (just like movement buttons are on the left side of a game controller). Typically:
- A key: move left
- D key: move right
- W key: move forward or up
- S key: move backward or down
In first-person shooters, you’ll use your mouse to aim and shoot. As for the other controls, it varies by game, although most games nowadays have a somewhat similar key configuration. Read this article, How to Play Overwatch on Your PC, to see how Overwatch utilizes keyboard controls. Most other first-person shooters on PC follow a similar format.
The great thing about PC gaming is that it’s easy to customize your keyboard controls. Most games allow you to map out the inputs to whatever keys you like. PC gaming is also more accommodating to left-handed gamers. Left-handed gamers can always play with the mouse in their left hand, and they’re able to use their right hand to use the directional keys (for movement).
Remember that practice makes perfect! If the keyboard is overwhelming at first, try hooking up a gamepad to your computer—a gamepad is just a console controller made for PC games. Gamepads lack the same versatility of movement that’s afforded by a mouse, but using one will at least get you acclimated to playing games on PC hardware.
The more you play, the more your PC gaming muscle memory will improve. Before you know it, your fingers will be striking the keyboard like lightning, and you’ll be dominating your online opponents just like you did on the console.