At this point, gaming PC folks have mastered the art of using their hands with plenty of keyboards and mice to choose from, but two of our limbs just sit there, lifeless. With the introduction of the MSI Liberator, the folks over at Micro Star International envision a world where we don’t simply let our legs atrophy and instead put them to use with a three-button pedal.
If the MSI Liberator gives you a bit of déjà vu, you’re not alone: Corsair released the Elgato Stream Deck Pedal at the start of 2022, also with three programmable keys. The difference here is deeper than just chucking RGB lighting you probably won’t ever really see into the mix, though.
While its rival takes a more unassuming, flatter approach, the Liberator looks more like a drum pedal, enclosing around your foot to minimise the amount of movement you need to hit each button. With this in mind, you can also daisy chain up to four Liberators together for a grand total of 12 buttons at the tip of your… toes.
MSI Liberator specs
Each Liberator has three buttons including the pedal itself. You can customise the two side buttons with magnetic caps to better fit the shape and size of your feet. It sits at an 8-degree angle, which MSI deems ideal for ergonomics, with a treaded footbase to keep your grip. There’s a 100ms response time, and supposedly easy-to-use software. It has a mountain to climb to rival the usability of the Stream Deck software, mind you.
Much like teaching yourself how to play the drums, there’s a learning curve to doubling the amount of limbs you’re using to control a game, but it opens up a world of possibilities. On one hand, it makes intricate spells in MMO games a cinch. On the other, it can potentially open up previously inaccessible games for those with disabilities, making them playable again. Your mileage may vary, however, and it’s not the cheapest device at $149 US / £122 (compared to its rival’s slimmer $89.99 USD / £79.99 price tag).
Unlike the Elgato Stream Deck Pedal, the MSI Liberator isn’t readily available. MSI made the curious decision to crowdfund its pedal to gauge interest in what it considers a fringe product, which comes with a handful of considerations but also some reassurances that your ordinary Kickstarter campaign lacks.
Firstly, what you see isn’t necessarily what you’ll get. MSI tells us that the Taiwan arm working on the project is “changing a few bits on the design,” which could be surface level but could also indicate changes to the feature set. We do know that the company is still working to trim latency and reassure backers you’ll get 100ms or less. Secondly, this is an official product from a reputable brand that’s already achieved 31 times its goal, but you’ll still need to consider that you’re purchasing into an idea and not a product.
If you want something here and now, you’ll need to grab yourself an Elgato Stream Deck Pedal. Otherwise, you’ll need to back the project before the time runs out and you’ll have to wait until December 2022 for your MSI Liberator – provided development keeps on track and pesky hardware shortages don’t get in the way.