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War Thunder Mouse vs Joystick

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If you’re shopping for a premium mouse, you may wonder what wins the War Thunder joystick vs. mouse debate. Top-tier gaming mouse controls are ideal for most military action games, but War Thunder features realistic battles that might benefit joystick users. Whether you like air battles or ground vehicles, the ideal control scheme often relies on the War Thunder game mode you’re playing. So, if you want to ensure the best control device, read this guide to War Thunder mouse vs. joystick.


  • War Thunder provides multiple game modes to suit your preferred input method and gameplay type.
  • Mouse controls are better for Arcade Mode, where the game offers automatic control while the user aims with the mouse.
  • Joysticks are ideal for War Thunder’s Simulation and Realistic Battle modes because users need more direct control in the advanced modes.

Finding the best pick between speed vs. control mouse pads can help refine mouse movements during high-stakes games of War Thunder. That said, you should understand the optical vs. mechanical switches for mouse users debate before choosing an input device.

Insider Tip

You will encounter complicated game mechanics in experienced control modes, but you will have absolute control over your in-game vehicles.

While joysticks are great for realistic control schemes, consider a steam controller vs. keyboard mouse control options for unrealistic plane movements. Unlike traditional 1st-person shooters, non-mouse controls are the better pick for air and ground vehicles in War Thunder.

War Thunder Joystick vs Mouse

Similar to the Star Citizen joystick vs. mouse debate, the behaviors of planes and other in-game vehicles depend on your control device. There isn’t a clear winner between control methods, but the War Thunder game mode you choose should decide whether you play with a joystick or mouse.

Arcade Battle Mode

War Thunder’s Arcade Battle is a simplified control mode that allows aiming with the mouse. Arcade Battle lets users make unrealistic plane movements and play with a 3rd-person shooter camera view. Aiming with the mouse is much more accurate than joystick mode, especially in Arcade Battle. Players enjoy a sense of automatic control, which keeps the aircraft level but limits advanced and dangerous maneuvers.

Realistic Battle Mode

You can use joystick or mouse control options in Realistic Battle mode. You can also combine the two into mouse joystick settings or MouseJoy. You can still mouse aim in RB mode, which is an advantage for mouse players. In contrast, joystick mode makes aiming harder but offers enhanced control for dangerous maneuvers.


You are forced into a virtual cockpit view in simulation battles, so play other modes to play War Thunder like a 3rd-person shooter.

Simulation Mode

Simulation Mode has a mandatory cockpit view and alters the physics so that air and ground vehicles move naturally. Non-mouse controls reign supreme in simulation mode, so a joystick is your best choice. According to some users, gamepads are an even better control method than a mouse and keyboard in Simulation Mode.

STAT: A 2018 Pew Research Center poll showed that 32% of American gamers regularly play simulation titles. (source)

War Thunder Mouse vs Joystick FAQs

Can I play War Thunder with a gamepad?

Controller input is a common control method for War Thunder, even on advanced modes like Realistic Battle and Simulation Mode. While mouse movement is likely better for Arcade Battle, gamepads are ideal for realistic movements in the game.

Does War Thunder support mouse and keyboard controls on Xbox?

Yes. The War Thunder team added mouse and keyboard controls to the Xbox version in 2018. While wireless models should work, you should use a wired mouse and keyboard for minimal input lag.

How do I disable the virtual instructor in War Thunder?

You have to turn off the mouse aiming to disable War Thunder’s virtual instructor. With simplified controls, the computer flies the plane while the player aims the reticle with their mouse. Switch to an experienced control mode to disable the instructor.

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