Game Testing: World of Warcraft and DC Universe OnlineDesign and features are important in any device, which is why I like to spend a lot of time covering those issues. When you’re dealing with a product with the G13, however, the ultimate question is one of practicality. This peripheral exists for one reason, and one reason only – to replace the keyboard and mouse. If it fails to do this, what’s the point?
To find out if the G13 is able to do the job I tested it in three popular games; World of Warcraft, DC Universe Online, and Team Fortress 2. These three games each have dramatically different control schemes, which is why I decided on them.
World of Warcraft
Of the games I tested, World of Warcraft was the one I thought would work best with the G13. Every move that your character executes is triggered by a bound hotkey, and while characters start at level 1 with just a single ability, a level 85 character can easily have over twenty abilities that need to be accessible. The typical setup is to have your main abilities triggered by numeric keys, while less important powers are trigged by pressing shift and then the appropriate numeric key. Obviously, this becomes unwieldy.
Logitech even has a built-in WoW app for the device, which means the LCD screen on the G13 will automatically display your character’s stats whenever you play. Excited, I jumped on to my level 85 Death Knight and began to do some daily quests.
I had to re-bind keys several times, of course, which wasn’t surprising. There are a lot of abilities to trigger, and different players arrange them in different ways. After about half an hour of playing, however, it became clear to me that the arrangement wasn’t working as well as I hoped. My hand was feeling more tired than normal, and I was having difficulty remembering key bindings.
As I played more, I identified two major issues. The first was that the G13 simply didn’t have enough buttons. That may seem amazing, almost impossible, considering how many buttons the G13 has. But my Death Knight has 23 abilities that I need quick access to, and the G13’s primary keypad has only 22 keys. That’s not even counting the hotkeys associated with other actions, like bringing up the map, using my flying mount, and professions. I couldn’t simply abandon my keyboard, but switching between the G13 and the keyboard felt incredibly awkward.
The other issue I had was the fact that the game was programed for a keyboard. WoW provides easy in-game information about key bindings on action bars. My second action bar is bound to trigger when I press shift and a numeric key, so the abilities are labeled as s-1, s-2, etc. No such visual que exists for the G13. It doesn’t help that the interface is laid out like a keyboard, either; an action bar has 12 abilities, representing keys 1 through = on the keyboard. The G13’s first two rows have just 7 keys, however.
After several hours of play, I found that the G13 wasn’t working for me. It wasn’t more comfortable than my keyboard, the keys did not feel more responsive, and key placement was actually worse. Despite my high hopes, the G13 bombed this test.
DC Universe Online
Now, I know what you might be thinking. DC Universe Online – isn’t that another MMO? Unlike most MMOs, however, this game does not use a hotkey based combat system but rather one based on combo attacks and special abilities. In other words, it’s a console-style brawler akin to Batman: Arkham Asylum. And that makes sense, because it was released simultaneously for the PC and PS3.
Given that there are far fewer buttons that need to be mashed, and that the G13 has a thumbstick, I thought this could be a good fit. I set up the G13 so that various keys activated my abilities and other functions, the thumbstick controlled my movement, and my mouse controlled my basic attacks.
Mechanically, this worked well. There handful of ability hotkeys meant I had no problem finding room for bindings, and I liked how the G13’s thumbstick synergized with character movement, which was meant for use with a thumbstick anyway. After going through the tutorial, however, I noticed an issue that had concerned me when I first took the G13 out of the box. Why is the thumbstick hanging out so far down the side of the device?
With my fingers resting where they’re “supposed” to rest – on the upper two rows of the keypad – the thumbstick is about an inch away from where it needs to be. Instead of meeting the tip of my thumb, it meets the joint of my thumb. Actual use of the G13 quickly strained my hand, causing a pain in the muscle in the palm of my hand just below my thumb. I’m a big guy, too, with big hands. I can’t imagine how a smaller person would use it.
Two games, two defeats for the G13 – this isn’t looking good.