The Ultimate Distance Controller Binds Guide
The default controller scheme in Distance is not ideal. This guide will show you how to set up a much better control scheme that will give you better control of your car.  Instead of just providing a set of bindings with no explanation, I try to provide the reasoning behind each binding/setting. This guide should be useful both to new players who want a control scheme that will serve them well in the long run, as well as experienced players looking to improve their competitiveness. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can find me in the Distance Discord Server. My Discord name is Seekr#3274.

Choosing a Controller

What controller you use comes largely down to personal preference. This guide is written assuming a standard controller such as the PS4’s, which features two pressable analog sticks, four shoulder buttons, and analog triggers. I’d be weary of cheap controllers though; they may not have very precise sensors on the analog sticks. Many top Distance players use a DualShock 4 (PS4) controller, so if you’re not sure what to use, this is a safe choice. If you have a controller like the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller that has paddles on the bottom, the bindings I provide will likely not be the best, as they assume no paddles. However, I do try to provide the reasoning behind choosing the bindings, which should help you set up bindings regardless of the controller.

Note that, while I use a PS4 controller, the software I use to connect it to my computer makes it appear as an Xbox controller ingame, which will be reflected in screenshots in this guide.

Definitions

Before we get started, some terms I’ll use in this guide:

Jets: The thrusters located on top of the car that allow the car to pitch or roll in the air.
Tight-Turning: A technique that lets you make tighter turns by using jets while turning.
Face buttons: Buttons on the front of the controller, like A, B, X, Y on Xbox controllers, not counting stick presses.
Bumpers: Digital shoulder buttons; L1 and R1 on PS4 controller.
Triggers: Analog shoulder buttons; L2 and R2 on PS4 controller.

It’s also worth going over the difference between the Air Roll and Jet Roll bindings:

Air Roll vs Jet Roll

In the controls flight tab, there are several sets of bindings. The wing bindings are straightforward, but you may not know the difference between the Air Roll/Pitch bindings and the Jet Roll/Pitch bindings. Both of these sets of bindings control jets, which can be quite confusing at first.

Air Roll/Pitch: controls jets while in the air, and also controls jets while grounded and holding grip.
Jet Roll/Pitch: controls jets at all times.

(Jets can never be used while wings are deployed.)

Do not bind both sets; there is no good reason to do so. Which set you should bind depends on whether you will use a single-stick or dual-stick setup (explained below). Air Roll/Pitch is for single-stick, and Jet Roll/Pitch is for dual-stick.

Single-Stick vs Dual-Stick Setup

The first thing we’ll set up is the core single or dual-stick setup. The default controller scheme is an example of what’s referred to as a single-stick setup, where one stick (the left) controls both steering and jets. This is in contrast to a dual-stick setup, where one stick is used for steering, and the other controls jets. While single-stick is a viable choice, I recommend a dual-stick setup. If you’re already used to single-stick, switching to dual-stick will require a period of relearning during which you’ll play worse, but stick with it. I switched, and it was worth it.

One of the major flaws with the default scheme is that, while rolling with wings (by holding grip and pressing left or right on the left stick), your other two axes get locked; you can’t turn left or right (yaw), or up or down (pitch). To address this, you’ll need to stop using grip to roll with wings, and instead use dedicated wing roll bindings. The following sections will show you how to properly set up your Flight tab controls (Note: if you want steering on the right stick, you can swap left and right sticks in the following screenshots):

Dual-stick setup (recommended)

Ensure the toggle for “Invert Y (Flying)” is disabled, and set the bindings in the Flight tab as in the following screenshot. Note that for Wing and Jet Pitch Up/Down, Pitch Down is Stick Up and Pitch Up is Stick Down. Also, go to the Camera tab and unbind the right stick from the Camera yaw and pitch controls. You can bind D-Pad left and right to Camera yaw left and right as a substitute.

Single-stick setup

If you insist on single-stick, the Flight tab bindings are just the default bindings, except bind Wing Roll left and right to the right stick, and change the camera controls as described in the previous paragraph. Note that for Wing and Jet Pitch Up/Down, Pitch Down is Stick Up and Pitch Up is Stick Down.

Tight-Turning: Single vs Dual-Stick

If you’re switching from single-stick to dual-stick, it’s worth pointing out that the technique for performing a tight-turn is different for these two setups: In single-stick setups, you tight-turn by steering completely left or right, and holding grip. Because Air Roll is bound to the same stick as steering, when you hold grip and steer left for example, the left jet activates and you tight-turn. In dual-stick setups, you instead tight-turn by simultaneously pressing both sticks either all the way left or all the way right. On a dual-stick setup, just gripping and turning will not cause you to tight-turn.

Mapping Shoulder Buttons

Next, we’ll map the car’s essential actions.

A good control scheme maximizes the amount of time your thumbs are located on their respective sticks. You do not want button presses to intermittently interfere with your ability to steer/fly/roll your car. This means you do not want to map essential actions to the face buttons (or the d-pad). Instead, essential actions should be on shoulder buttons. These are what I define as the essential actions:

  • Gas
  • Boost
  • Jump
  • Wing Activation