Trying to play Skyrim on a PC with Xbox
March 11, 2015 4:50 PM   Subscribe

I've played Skyrim on a PS3 for a while now. I love it, but after hearing about all the mods you can do with the PC version, I was eager to buy the PC game. I've been trying to play it on my computer, but it's awful.

I've got an oldish (2009) Windows 7 Home Premium Gateway with an Intel Core i3, 550 @ 3.20 GHz, 8 GB of RAM with a 64-bit OS. Service Pack 1, if that makes any difference (I keep getting that Windows error saying I'm not running a "real" version, but all the suggested fixes don't work. So far it's just an annoyance.)

I installed Skyrim (got it new at Best Buy) and tried using it with the keypad, but found myself totally disoriented. I got an XBox controller because I'd heard they work well with Skyrim. I can maneuver slightly better, but something is wrong and since I don't know the correct gameplay terminology for this it's hard to describe, but I'll try:

The movement is too loose. I push the right stick up, and suddenly I'm on the ceiling. I try turning slightly to my right, but the program thinks I'm trying to see something on the back of my own butt. Little movements create large swings, I guess is the best way to describe it. I get nauseated after a few seconds. There also seems to be a lag problem...slowness and little jumps in the video (or whatever you call it on a PC), whereas I had really smooth movement in my PS3 version.

Could there be a problem with my video card? Memory? Can I change anything on the Xbox controller? Do I just need a new computer? Should I go back to trying to use the keypad? Any tips on how to do that without chewing my arm off?

Any suggestions would be welcome!
posted by cartoonella to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You don't mention it, so:
have you tried fiddling with the "sensitivity controls", which going to be in the (I think) gameplay options? It sounds like your joystick is oversensitive, usually fixable. I'm assuming from my experiences gaming that one joystick (left, probably) is movement and the other is camera rotation? Do they both have the problem?

As well, from here, look in the file Skyrimprefs.ini (if you're on Steam, it's in C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamaps\common\Skyrim, maybe somewhere a bit deeper, I don't have the game installed so I can't check) and try changing fGamepadHeadingSensitivity=1.0000, probably to something lower. There may be a similarly-named one if they separate out the sensitivity settings, there may not. You'll have to try a few settings, see if it changes anything.

Unsure on the basic lag issue. Have you tried turning down the Video settings?
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:58 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

Turn down graphic settings.

Use the mouse.
posted by flimflam at 5:11 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

The lag might just be from the camera panning way faster than it ever would otherwise so I would fix the control issue first and then see if the lag is still there.

The sensitivity settings should be in the game's main menu somewhere. If not, I would see if you can fiddle with it in the windows settings before diving into config files.

If you're still getting lag, turn down the graphics settings or detail. Turn them WAY down at first just to see if that is the issue, then you can turn stuff back up until it's as high a detail as it can be and still be smooth. No lower than 60 FPS (frames per second) is what I shoot for and that usually means an average of 80 or so. There is usually a command or something you can enter that will show you the FPS. Search for "Skyrim graphics settings guide" or something similar. That should turn up some advice on what settings to turn down or maybe some recommendations for settings with your specific setup.
posted by VTX at 5:25 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Turn down the graphics, yeah, but what video card are you running?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:26 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, listen to Xenophobe. We need to know what card you're running.
posted by Justinian at 12:03 AM on March 12, 2015

Just a note that if you are playing the Steam version you can just turn on the Steam FPS counter to see how you are doing framerate wise. It appears as a tiny little item in one corner of the screen; small enough that I just leave it on all the time. I'm guessing you are having performance issues.

Since you list a box-store PC up there I think it's fairly safe to assume that you are using integrated graphics. Skyrim is really going to need a dedicated card to play well on anything other than the very lowest settings.
posted by selfnoise at 7:38 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're playing with the video on the i3 it's never going to not suck.

Luckily you can probably put a 750ti into any machine with a pci-x slot. It benchmarks ten times faster than the integrated video. I run one in my living room box and Skyrim is great at 720p (ie ps3 resolution) with just about all the eye candy turned on and a high-res texture pack loaded. They'll run you like $150.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:12 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

The default Skyrim sensitivity settings for the Xbox controller are more or less equivalent to how the game feels on consoles (particularly Xbox 360). It sounds like you're having issues with low framerate. If your computer doesn't have a dedicated GPU, you're using the integrated graphics system that is built into your CPU, which is pretty terrible. ROU_Xenophobe's suggestion is in the right direction, though I think he means PCI-e, not PCI-x. His recommendation for getting a card based on the nVidia 750Ti chipset is pretty sound, as it's the most powerful card you'll be able to get without having to worry about additional power requirements. Here's one such card that's currently selling for $140.
posted by strangecargo at 1:22 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

The vast majority of PC games "just work" with an XBox controller, almost identically to how they play on console. Not sure if this applies to Skyrim but I'd be really surprised if it didn't.

Just in case, you can try installing the controller drivers, but in my experience they're not necessary to get the controller working.

I agree with the others that this is likely due to an underpowered video card and/or too-high graphics settings. Also, if you have Vertical Sync enabled in your graphics settings, try turning it off -- this will improve both your framerate and control responsiveness.
posted by neckro23 at 5:43 PM on March 12, 2015

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