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Arms guide: controls

Motion controls and non-motion controls

Controls in Arms are an interesting subject thanks to the many control schemes the Nintendo Switch offers. We are going to break all those options down into motion controls and non-motion controls.

Motion controls

If you opt for the motion controls, almost everything is done via gestures with just a few actions left to the buttons.

The “thumbs up” grip involves holding the Joy-Cons sideways with the analog sticks facing inward. Make sure “left” (joystick on top) is at your left and “right” (joystick on bottom) is on your right. I would also suggest keeping your hands fairly far from each other. Give them some room to move. They’ll need it.

I thought of the Joy-Cons held this way as dual joysticks like in the old Virtual-On arcade games, especially with the action buttons up top. Perhaps think of the view from inside D.Va’s robot in Overwatch.

Move by tilting both of the Joy-Cons in any direction. If you tilt the Joy-Cons toward each other, you’ll guard. Tilting them away from each other will make you walk backward slowly.

Punch by, well, actually thrusting one of your hands forward. You don’t need to go into a full-on punch to make this happen: simply flicking your wrist forward will also do the trick. The important thing is that the Joy-Con moves forward a little bit.

To angle a punch, flick your wrist forward in the direction you want to aim. The important thing is the direction that the top of the Joy-Con is pointing when you flick. Flicking straight left or right will result in the widest possible angle, but there are different degrees of curve in between that you can get. Keep in mind that not every weapon has a full range of curved movement.

Only shoulder buttons are used in this format: R jumps, L dodges, and RZ starts the Rush attack.

Non-motion controls

These are much more straightforward and explainable with a simple diagram.

The main difference between motion and non-motion controls is the way you angle a punch. With analog controls, you’re going to point the analog stick in the direction you want to aim and press either punch button. Just like with motion controls, the further left or right you aim, the sharper the angle will be. Some weapons simply don’t have a wide range, so don’t be surprised when the curve doesn’t match the actual direction you used.

Motion vs. non-motion

It actually turns out to be a very close race. Motion control players can do a few things that players with a regular controller can’t, and non-motion players can do a few things better than motion controls can.

There is a very fine degree of precision to Arms’ curve punches, and you can get that level of control with either an analog stick or motion controls. In fact, with motion controls you’re inevitably going to have some imprecision as you won’t always move the Joy-Cons just so every single time.

However, one trick that’s easier with motion controls is grabbing with a wide range (pushing out both of your hands outwards at an angle). Because they rely on the analog stick for aiming, non-motion controls have some difficulty exactly replicating this trick.

Non-motion controls have the fundamental advantage of faster movement. No matter how good you are with motion controls, an analog stick will be faster by milliseconds. Especially when shifting from one direction to another, or moving at a precise speed, the precision of an analog stick is tough to beat.

The usability of the two control schemes is close enough to fuel furious message board battles for years to come. Ultimately, you should use what feels best to you.

We used predominantly motion controls for this guide, as it seemed most in the spirit of the game. However, we also predict that competitive players will largely take to non-motion controls as the game develops.