Nothing is worse than having to struggle with a difficult controller. Issues from drifting joysticks to controller size, and even syncing your PS4 controller can be frustrating to deal with. Luckily, there are controllers on the market to match anyone’s gaming style. No matter your budget or preferred genre, you can find a gamepad that fits your needs and tips for saving battery life.
The PlayStation 4 is nearing the end of its lifecycle, and that means we’ve had plenty of time for great controllers to hit the market. From elite e-sports-ready gamepads to tailor-made fighting game control panels, here are the best controllers currently available for the PlayStation 4.
Included with the PlayStation 4 regardless of which bundle you choose to purchase, the DualShock 4 is one of the best controllers Sony has ever made. Its face buttons are large enough to accommodate nearly any hand size, its triggers are actual triggers, rather than the weirdly-shaped buttons of the DualShock 3, and its analog sticks have a more thumb-friendly shape. The DualShock 4 is more than just an updated DualShock 3, however, as it packs in a neat touchpad, has a great speaker for certain game noises, and has a share button to quickly capture your best moments. Its design is so great, in fact, that Sony will even be using a very similar one for the PlayStation 5.
Sony doesn’t offer its own Elite controller, but you can now pick up the Back Button Attachment to add a bit more functionality to the standard device. It comes with two mappable buttons, a digital screen that shows the current configuration, and the ability to save multiple presets. For just $29.99, it’s an affordable way to upgrade your controller.
Lilyhood wired controller
If your PlayStation 4 is located in a relatively small space and you’re just a few feet away from it during play sessions, you may want to invest in a wired controller to save yourself time spent charging the DualShock 4’s battery. Lilyhood’s controller features a 6.5-foot cable, which should give you plenty of slack, and it includes the same motion control and touch support of the standard DualShock 4.
For the lower $26 price, you’ll miss out on the speaker and audio jack functions found in more expensive controllers, but Lilyhood’s wired controller is also compatible with PlayStation 3, PC, and Android, and it includes textured grips to ensure your hands don’t slip during particularly stressful or long playing sessions. The analog sticks include similar nubs around the outside, and their deeper indentation bears more of a resemblance to the Xbox One’s controller than the DualShock 4.
Hori Fighting Commander
The PlayStation 4 is one of the best platforms ever when it comes to fighting games, with everything from Injustice 2 to Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 releasing on the system. If you’re a dedicated fighting game player, the DualShock 4 is a decent enough controller, but Hori’s Fighting Commander is the perfect option for players on a budget. The $40 controller features all the face buttons as well as the R1 and R2 buttons on the front of the controller in a similar configuration to the Sega Genesis, as well as additional shoulder buttons, a toggle switch for making the directional pad function as an analog stick, and a turbo button.
Just like with the Xbox One version of the Fighting Commander, the PlayStation 4 controller can also be used for PC games, and it’s compatible with the PlayStation 3, as well. Its small size means you can easily purchase more than one for when your friends come over to get their butts kicked in Dragon Ball FighterZ or Street Fighter V, and it includes a 10-foot cable for ease of use.
Fighting games rely on precise inputs more than any other genre, and that often means that an analog stick and even a directional pad simply won’t cut it. For these cases, the Hit Box is the answer. The controller has a similar appearance to a fight-stick, but it only contains buttons on its top and sides. You can do all the same techniques possible with a traditional controller, but using your entire hand and your fingertips to pull off special attacks leads to fewer mistakes. Pulling off Ryu’s Hadoken move, for instance, can be a little trick on a gamepad, but it’s a piece of cake with the Hit Box.
Also compatible with PC, the Hit Box has been used in high-level fighting game events such as Evo, and it’s made out of a mix of plexiglass and metal to prevent damage when you’re on the go. As with the Fighting Commander, it’s a wired controller, but the nearly 10 feet of cable you’re given should be enough for all but the largest gaming setups.
The PlayStation 4 doesn’t have its own “Elite” controller like the Xbox One, but Scuf took it upon itself to create an alternative with the Scuf Vantage. Designed as a sort of hybrid between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One designs, it features asymmetrical analog sticks, providing a more comfortable resting position during long play sessions, and its directional pad has very distinct clicks that make it ideal for fighting and platforming games.
The kicker, however, is how insanely customizable the Scuf Vantage is. Pop off the magnetic faceplate and you can easily remove both analog sticks, the directional pad, and even the rumble motors, and you can replace individual components with parts more suited to your style. Want longer triggers? Just pop off the included trigger covers and swap them out in seconds.
The Scuf Vantage also comes with four paddles on the back as well as two extra buttons on either side, and they can all be programmed on the fly in case you need to make a quick change. This all comes at a price — you’ll be paying $200 or more for the Bluetooth-enabled model — but with a great battery life and even better build quality, it can definitely replace your DualShock 4.
The controller was made even better with the revised Vantage 2, as well, and in-game configurations allow you to automatically set up the extra buttons and paddles to best support popular titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Borderlands 3.
Razer Raiju Ultimate
Razer is known for crafting high-quality gear, and the Raiju Ultimate is no different. The controller allows for a wide degree of customization using its mobile app, and you can even change out its thumbsticks and D-pads. There’s also an option to reduce the back triggers’ travel time, allowing you to react in the blink of an eye.
The standout feature of the Raiju is arguably its mecha-tactile action buttons. These incredibly responsive buttons give users tactile feedback with a “soft cushioned touch.” You’ll never have to worry if your input went through properly, as Razer’s face buttons are some of the best on the market.
The Raiju Ultimate works as both a wired or wireless device. If you want to take a break from gaming on your PS4, the Raiju is also compatible with most PC games. Out of the box, it’ll work with Steam, but download a few drivers, and you’ll be ready to play nearly everything on your hard drive.
Nacon Revolution Unlimited
Although it might not be a familiar name, Nacon has been crafting top-tier gaming products for years. The Revolution Unlimited is a premium gamepad that gives you the ability to play in wired or wireless modes, boasts a seven-hour battery life, and includes customizable joysticks with interchangeable rubber toppers.
One of the most unique features of the Revolution Unlimited is the option to change its weight. To add some heft to the gamepad, you can add small, removable pieces to hidden compartments in the controller’s handles — not many other controllers offer this degree of customization.
There are a bunch of other great features — button mapping, dead zone sensitivity, vibration intensity — and you’ll even get a custom carrying case for the controller and all its extra components. If you’ve got very particular taste when it comes to gamepads, Nacon’s offering is definitely worth a look.
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