How To Play Elder Scrolls Online With A Controller

Elder Scrolls Online doesn't ship with controller support for the PC and Mac. However, with a little extra effort, you can make the MMORPG work with a gamepad.

In my case, I used a third-party app called GamepadTV with my Xbox 360 controller for WIndows. I'm sure there are other solutions out there but this one worked pretty well for me.

After downloading GamepadTV and installing it, you right-click the icon in your taskbar and select "settings." In this settings window, you'll find a list of profiles. Select "Bethesda.net_Launcher." This profile has button assignments specifically geared toward Elder Scrolls Online so you won't need to assign the controllers manually. Here are the keybinds, in case you're wondering:

  • LS - Player movement
  • Dpad - Press Dpad up to activate the first spell (1), Dpad right for the second spell, Dpad down for the third spell, Dpad left for the fourth spell
  • A - Action button
  • X - Loot
  • Y - Jump
  • B - Close menu
  • BACK - Map
  • START - Inventory
  • RT - Simple Attack
  • LT - Block
  • RB - Strong attack
  • LB - Holster your weapon
  • RS (click) - Camera switch
  • LS (hold) - Sprint

After you select that profile, hit the "Close" button.

Now that that's done, turn on the controller. Hold down the "Back" button until you hear a beep. There should be a notification near your taskbar from GamepadTV that says "Mouse on." This means that the profile has been loaded up. Launch the game, log in and you're good to go.

Most games with official gamepad support let you flick through menu options with your left analog stick or the shoulder buttons and select with the "A" button. The GamepadTV solution isn't as seamless. The interface is still point-and-click, except that you control the mouse cursor with the right analog stick and "click" by pressing the right trigger down. It works but it's a bit cumbersome when you're navigating through your inventory's many tabs.

Moving through the world was smoother than moving through menus, thankfully. The twin-stick controls for movement and camera made me feel like I was playing Skyrim on Xbox 360. Combat, meanwhile, uses the trigger buttons for blocking and attacking.

I ran into a problem with special abilities, though. Players have six hotkeys for abilities: five for normal skills and one for an "ultimate" ability. The GamepadTV layout only allows for four hotkeys, bound to each of the D-Pad buttons. This meant I couldn't use my Ultimate or my fifth ability. The lack of a Sneak button would be concerning if I played a Nightblade.

Some slight adjustments to the keybindings might work. The GamepadTV setup has buttons for holstering your weapon and switching between third and first person cameras. I suppose I could rebind those buttons to be my fifth skill and my ultimate ability. That won't solve my problems permanently, though. I'm going to need more buttons as I level up. For example, summoning a horse requires its own button.

At my current stage in the game, though, this controller setup works. I'm just doing low-level, solo quests right now and this program lets me play from the comfort of my couch. I'm hoping that there's a better solution to use once I start doing more advanced content in the game, though.

It's surprising that ZeniMax didn't include gamepad support for the PC and Mac versions. After all, they've been developing PS4 and Xbox One versions as well so they clearly had controllers in mind when they put the game together. Maybe they'll patch in controller support for the PC and Mac after launch but that feature might be at the end of a very long to-do list for the development team.

Pete Haas

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.