Playing WoW with a controller: How-To and is it worth it?

7 min read 8 14

Many players out there can’t imagine playing a game without a controller. MMO RPGs aren’t really the genre for gamepads, but there is a lot of demand. And WoW fortunately has full gamepad support. What’s more, there are many comfort features to make it more enjoyable. So, can you play WoW with a controller comfortably?

Yes, most certainly! The game has gradually become more and friendlier for gamepads. It doesn’t just mean the official support, which came during Shadowlands in 2020. There have been plenty of quality-of-life changes for gamepad users since. If you’re one of them, there’s plenty you should know about.

Current System Overview

Does WoW have controller support? Yes, it does, but it isn’t on any consoles. That being said, it supports most mainstream gamepads, including ones for Xbox, Playstation, Switch, and Steam Deck. But because a typical gamepad has up to 16 buttons, they aren’t enough to provide the full experience. At least, they aren’t in the vanilla WoW.

Despite the World of Warcraft controller support, it’s not gamepad-friendly in its raw form. It won’t be a good idea to simply plug it in, though. There are base game tools that make the experience more tolerable by addressing the camera angles, aiming, and interface. It’ll still be somewhat clunky even with all these changes, and you’ll soon see.

New Dragonflight Interface

WoW controller support has existed since Shadowlands. However, Dragonflight made an even greater step forward by introducing a new editable HUD. The regular HUD consists of two stacks of small square icons. You’ll be able to fit anything in there, and it’s perfect for keyboards. It is, however, unreadable to controller users.

The new system lets you customize the HUD however you want. Gamepad users arrange the ability icons in two sections. The icons on the left are usually reserved for d-pad keys, and the main mass is on the right. This is a lot more comfortable if you play WoW with a controller.

The innovation got a lot of praise, though, and it does serve its purpose. It conveys info on your abilities in an easily-read and logical manner. It actually seems like a stepping stone toward porting the game to consoles. After all, this interface seems perfect for playing on the couch.

How to Set Up

To turn on the WoW gamepad support, you need to type this command into the chat: “/Console GamePadEnable 1“. It will allow you to use your controller if you’ve plugged it in. However, don’t do that right away. Firstly, you’ll want to customize the HUD to make it friendlier to your new gaming approach.

It’s better to limit the number of ability slots to about 16. That’s feasibly how many combinations you can come up with and memorize. On the left, players usually place d-pad controls, and on the right — all the rest. It’s possible to import an already-tested interface structure to save time. After that, it’s time for binding.

To start keybinding, enable the gamepad mode, go to HUD edit mode and select quick keybinding. There, you’ll be able to manually click controls or control combinations for every slot. You can select 2 or 3 buttons simultaneously, and it’s a good idea because other game controls like jumping also take up buttons.

Importantly, Dragonflight added the action targeting feature. It’s vital for playing WoW with controller mode, as it lets you cast a spell on a target you’re facing. You don’t need to select targets manually, which would be hard with sticks. You’re advised to enable that in the settings.

Lastly, the game has a nifty feature called “interact”. It’s a button option that lets you perform many basic activities like attack, loot, or talk with just one button. This overly simplifies many tasks in the game, but that’s exactly what you want. It’s essentially the key to how to play World of Warcraft with a controller.

Action Camera

ActionCam is another crucial feature in this gameplay approach. It’s a cinematic view mode you may enable at any point through the chat window. All you need to do is to type “/Console ActionCam On” in the chat. Doing this will switch the camera to the position just behind your shoulder.

It’s similar to the PoVs from God of War or Mass Effect. It is a more familiar way to play games, and it lets you see what’s in front in a more cinematic way. ActionCam also can help you track the targets, although it’s one of the advanced settings. You can view the whole list of these below.

There are also plenty of ActionCam addons. The foremost WoW addon of this sort is DynamicCam, which changes your PoV automatically based on currency situation — be that NPC interaction, teleport animation, or something else. Many use ActionCam mainly for immersion, and DynamicCam brings it to another level.

It’s another example of a cinematic addon to help you feel immersed, which Xbox and Playstation players love to do. If it sounds good to you, also consider downloading Immersion. It adds NPC interaction and quest windows, which are more familiar to a modern gamer.

One of the most glaring problems of the shoulder view mode is the view limitations themselves. You choose cinematic value over visibility. There is always action behind you, and you should better turn the mode off during raids, dungeons, and boss fights. Otherwise, you’ll walk into a hostile spell or worse.

Console Port

The Console Port addon might be the most crucial addon for console fans. In the olden days, it provided unofficial support for gamepads. Now, it offers functionality that is far superior to the vanilla treatment of gamepads. Notably, it has a lot more visual clearness and nuance.

Normally, you’d bind buttons in a typical menu with several columns. The Console Port World of Warcraft controller addon gives you an expansive menu where you can customize controls with a lot of depth, including various button combinations. They correspond to the new interface, which mimics the button layout on your controller.

In the new UI, several round icons can be placed on the screen and expanded with additional icon extensions. This way, your screen depicts a lot more abilities more comprehensively. You can tell from a glance where any of your spells are. Moreover, there are presets, a utility ring for quick actions, and a lot more.

It changes the whole UI allowing you to work with settings — especially controller settings — more easily. All the interactive sections are bigger and easier to notice. It’s a good change overall because the original menu can be hard to navigate. That makes it the top WoW controller addon.

Viability

As you’ve seen, you can be comfortable enough playing like this. You’ll be able to practically make WoW into a comfy console experience, as there are basically all the features you’ll need. However, there are upsides and downsides to this approach.

Upsides boil down to utility. You have all the spell keys in your two palms, and that can hasten the casting. If you memorize all the button combinations, it might be superior to a keyboard and mouse in terms of speed and efficiency. After all, that is partly why console players like this piece of hardware.

The downsides have much to do with gamepad limitations. Keyboard keys are clunkier, but there are more of them. You won’t really utilize your full potential without several dozen buttons. It may be alright on the lower levels of PvE and PvP, but you can’t compete on the higher levels.

It’s not like you won’t have any fun if you use a gamepad. In fact, if you want to have simple fun, playing World of Warcraft with a controller is a good idea. You can sit in any position, boost your immersion and avoid extreme micromanagement. It can deprive you of some of the best prizes, but there are WoW services that help you get them.

Possible Release to Consoles

It’s not that WoW isn’t coming to consoles. In fact, there are signs that it might well be the case. The new features don’t just make the game friendlier to gamepads. It makes it friendlier to console gamers specifically. If you’d play World of Warcraft remotely on a big TV screen without the compatibility features, you wouldn’t see anything.

Steam Deck is the only semblance of a console release. It’s not a console per se, but it’s similar to Switch in many regards. One of these regards is the ability to play games on the big screen (or a small portable one). So you can technically have a regular console gaming experience, but not in the mainstream way yet.

14 likes 8 comments

Author:

Buran
37 articles

Comments

Anonymoussays:

Y’all I just got the scuf envision and for the life of me can’t figure out how to make the thumbsticks cursor and movement

Phi Anh
Phi Anhsays:

As for my knowledge, the SCUF Envision controller will be detected in Windows as an Xbox controller, so there should be no problem using it in World of Warcraft with the Console Port addon (make sure to download and enable that addon). When using the Console Port addon, to activate cursor mode, you need to press down on your thumbstick. Hope that helps!

Philsmamdisays:

What controller are you using? Make sure to use the ControlPort addon. I’m using both the DualShock 4 and Xbox series gamepad, and they work fine.

JeTalsays:

When on a controller, WoW seems to invert my movement. Like my LeftStick Y axis is upside down and pushing up makes me walk backwards. Any idea how to correct this? Obviously I want it to walk forward when I stick forward/up, and backward when I stick back/down. I see no options for that.

hayuuken
hayuukensays:

Do you use the ControlPort addon? What controller do you use? Sometimes the default gamepad functionality and settings in WoW can be laggy.

Anonymoussays:

Exact same issue with me. Cannot seem to find the right setting(s) to fix this.