The mighty controller can be a surprisingly underrated bit of kit.
If you’re a console gamer, the controller is your main tool of choice and an incredibly versatile one at that, acting as the translator between move you’ve planned out in your head and actual in-game movement, action or decision your character has made. The same goes for many PC gamers as well, while the Keyboard and Mouse might often be the peripherals of choice, sometimes a controller just makes sense.
Depending on the level of which you game, that’s not to say amateur or pro, but rather how often and how much enjoyment you get from it, the controller can be a surprisingly personal thing. As with any hobby, people are willing to spend on and customise the accessories they use to reflect themselves and to improve their skills in their chosen hobby.
When it comes to controllers, there are a lot of choices out there! To start with, there’s the stock controller that a standard console comes with. They are usually good quality controllers that do the job for years and for many, it’s the most they’ll ever need.
Then come the different versions of what is still effectively a stock controller. Different colours, themes (sometimes related to a game) and occasionally different textures. These are a step up from stock, not in terms of what they can do, but purely in look and personality. It’s an option to buy a controller that you like the look of and reflects what you like without breaking the bank.
Next comes a step down. The cheap and cheerful 3rd party controllers. Usually, there’s nothing wrong with them but they are designed to be a cheaper option of buying more controllers. For many, they are the controllers that are only used when a friend comes round. The ‘Player 2’ controller – you all know the ones I’m talking about!
Moving on swiftly, we move forward to the custom controller. At this point, I’m still referring to stock or similar but the difference being, you can choose the colours, look and feel of the controller. Xbox even have their own ‘Design Lab’ in which you can pick almost every component on the controller to suit you, from the faceplate to the buttons. You can even get your Gamertag engraved on the controller!
The next level up is my current favourite. It’s not for everyone but the ‘Pro’ controller market is fascinating. It’s taking console gaming in itself to new levels by introducing new classes of accessories that can actually improve the way you play. There are some good options on the market as well, Scuf being a particularly interesting offering with a lot of different controller and customisation options that means you can create the controller of your choice and play how you like.
Personally, I actually settled for an Xbox Elite controller and then swapped the faceplate to a red-black shadow style faceplate. It’s also the soft touch plastic which is a nice feature. What I love about the Elite isn’t just the added functionality i.e. back paddles for quick access buttons, hair-lock triggers and thumbstick customisation, it’s also the weight and feel of the controller itself. The slightly heavier weight makes it feel somewhat nicer to hold. The back grips given an extra sense of luxury and again, it’s more comfortable to use than a standard controller.
In fact, whenever I do switch back to one of my two Halo themed stock controllers, they just seem to feel a bit light and plastic – they’re great controllers and I used them for years without an issue but the Elite just makes me feel like I’m a better gamer (even though I’m not…).
Controllers are a great bit of kit and you shouldn’t underestimate the value and feeling of a nice, decent controller.