Big screen PC gaming has become less of a hassle with Valve’s open beta test of their new “Big Picture mode.” Steam users only need to opt in for the steam beta to receive access. (Under user settings) Why is this mode worth any sort of news? Well good sir’s or madam’s this mode allows users to browse through basically all of your normal Steam functions with a Xbox 360 controller, and is made for 720p/1080p resolutions. All this means that for those PC gamers that enjoy playing their games on the big screen have much better functionality to do so, instead of juggling a mouse and keyboard along with a gamepad.
Starting Big Picture mode is as easy as connecting a Xbox 360 gamepad, something quite a bit of PC users own for the console port games, and hitting the guide button with Steam open.
You are then greeted by the new main page. From here everything is just a Left Trigger or Right Trigger away (Normally it indicates but since I was moving the mouse to capture the images it switched to “Mouse and Keyboard mode” so bear with me)
The web browser is functional, at least better than the PS3′s. Useful for light browsing, Looking up game info or youtube videos on the big screen. The unique part about anything that has to do with text entry is the newest answer to just posting a full screen keyboard and slugging though it with a gamepad.
“Daisy Wheel” is just the answer that I wish came out sooner than 2012. While it does take a bit of time to coordinate what’s in your mind to inputting it’s still astronomically better than a copy and paste QWERTY keyboard on the screen.
The Steam Store is also in effect here. Purchasing and downloading content is just as easy as before, granted there are some bugs in the Free-To-Play department. This particular feature is nifty, that being said I would reccomend just buying them in the normal UI until the Big Picture actually releases. There are some noticeable features missing such as daily deals and a few of the genres are broken. Being as this is still in beta the world will not end without these at 100%
And last on the slideshow is the main course. Your Steam library is easily sort-able by all games, installed games, and recently played games. Selecting one will give you more info such as DLC available, Store links, forum links, achievements, play time, cloud saves, friends that own the game, screenshots, and news. If this sounds like quite a lot, it’s because it is. You receive all the info you would normally get in the standard UI.
One day out of the gate, in beta format none the less, and I have switched to this mode for any controller enabled game played on my TV. I can only hope that Valve listens to feedback, good or bad, and constantly improves this alternative interface. If they accomplish winning people over they could easily convert people to the increasingly popular TV-PC setup.