The Video Game "Lean" Continues Its Console Invasion

The Video Game

Say you're coming up on a corner in a hallway. There might be some guys on the other side who. I don't know want to shoot you. What do you do? Put your entire body around the corner really quick just to see what's over there? Of course you don't. You peek your head around the corner. You lean.

About a year ago, I wrote the article below about how thanks to Dishonored's smart appropriation of the Y button, leaning might finally make a comeback in console games. Of course, PC gamers have always been able to lean — but on console, there have rarely been enough buttons to let players do it effectively.

This past weekend, I was trying out the next-gen versions of several multi-platform first-person games and I found that, what do you know, Battlefield 4 allows for leaning. And it works! On PS4, you can lean simply by tilting the controller to the left or right. It might feel awkward for some, but I really like it. It lets me get an angle on a lot of opponents I wouldn't have normally been able to see. I use it pretty regularly.

The Xbox One version of Battlefield 4 uses Kinect. This approach is both A) Pretty funny and pretty cool and B) Not quite consistent enough, at least for me. I like the idea of leaning my actual body to the left and right to lean around corners, and when it works, it works well. (And it makes me laugh, in a good way.) But it isn't compatible with a lot of the ways I sit while gaming — sideways with my legs over the end of the couch, or braced on the coffee table with my knees up. So I mostly leave leaning turned off on Xbox One.

Call of Duty: Ghosts also offers a lean option, though it's called "contextual lean." It's not directly under the player's direct control and I haven't been able to get it to work all that well. I'd rather have complete control over my leaning, thank you very much.

As an avowed leaning-fan, I'm happy to see creative thinking leading to new approaches to video-game leaning. More leaning in console games, please! Let's keep this comeback going!


    This is the first really good use of sixaxis that I've ever heard of. Hopefully this will catch on in other shooters in the future.

      Flower made very good use of Sixaxis.

      Also, hasn't Killzone been doing this since Killzone 2? The lean, I mean, not necessarily with Sixaxis.

        To a certain extent, I believe so. As for sixaxis - whilst I deplore the tack-on approaches such as placing explosives, I didn't mind the idea of holding my controller steady in order to steady my aim.
        ThatGameCompany always seems to use sixaxis rather extensively, and I've always found their games to be the most acceptable in its use.

        I've been considering buying Flower for a while, I expect a bunch of PS3 games will start getting really cheap with the new consoles coming on shelves now. My first experience with sixaxis was Uncharted 1 where you had to tilt the controller to balance on a log and shake it to break free from getting grabbed in melee combat (it only worked half the time for me). My next experience was in Infamous where you used the sixaxis to direct the storm ability. It wasn't bad as such, just really inaccurate. Journey worked well enough but seemed kind of pointless.

        Never played Killzone either, although I wish other shooters had taken notice. Games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo and Counter Strike could all have benefitted from a lean mechanic.

          Flower is great. Also if you buy it on PSN you'll get the PS4 and VITA versions 'for free' since it is cross-buy. Also the PS4 has improved motion controls so the controls in Flower should be more responsive. Not getting a PS4 on day one but when I eventually do I'll definitely be replaying Flower.

          One of the weapons in Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time used the sixaxis too. The weapon was called Dynamo of doom I think.

      gta4 and gta5 allow u to use sixaxis to 'Reload' by shaking the controller. some might not like it but i thought it rocked. and i never used sixaxis for anything else.

    I'm pretty sure you don't need the kinect lean or the sixaxis tilt to use "Lean" - or to peak over an object. The one context button does it all. It has saved my life on more occasion than I can count.

    Reminds me a bit of MGS2 when you could hang and move along the bottom edge of pathways, but you could also hold L2 and R2 together and Snake/Raiden would do a pull up so you could see just over the edge.

    Also if you did enough chin ups (read: 100+) you could actually increase the durability of your hanging meter and it would decrease slower. Pretty cool.

    The Kinect approach reminds me of an old Time Crisis style arcade game I played in the early 2000s. You stood in a specific place in front of the screen and it tracked your head and body movements so you needed to crouch to crouch behind things and lean to the side in order to lean out past walls and things like that. It was a lot more fun than pressing a pedal with your foot.

      That was one of those police trainer ones that was all the rage for a while. Didn't read your body motion very well but it was a lot of fun :D

      I remember that. It was rather punishing on the knees.

    LT to lean on BF4 on Xbox 360 when you are near an obstruction.

    Rainbow Six Vegas 2 pretty much nailed this concept, BF4 however, this is a clumsy as hell action that results in me gettig shot in the face.

    I found the head tracking option in Forza 5 and turned it on, and then promptly crashed constantly because I couldn't keep track of where I was steering and where I was looking lol. Turned that crap back off.

    I'm fairly sure that Goldeneye 64 had lean! Man that game was amazing.

    Only problem is for bf4 pc at least, with lean enabled your cross hairs end up no where near where you actually want to shoot. Depending how close you are to the corner changes your lean...... so as you don't often have time in a FPS to get out a tape measure and take this into account its a hindrance that ends up getting you out shot far more than a normal corner peek.

    Good in theory crappy in practice

    the kinect style lean would probably work better on PC because everyone is sitting in an upright position hahaha

    Another example where kinect aaaaaalmost just works well enough to use....

    But it then it doesn't. So you turn it off.

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