It’s truly a marvellous time to be a gamer. Right now there are more options than ever before for players to choose from—including video game consoles, software, and even controllers. With so many factors to consider, the choice can be daunting, so let’s break down some of the key differences in gamepad peripherals with this guide on how to choose the right controller.
Most consoles ship with a quality controller right out of the box. Everyone is familiar with Sony’s Dualshock 4 or Microsoft’s Xbox One controller. However, for those gamers with a serious appetite for the most high-end experience available, there are a few gamepads available that fit the description of “premium” controllers. These controllers may come with a hefty price tag, but they also provide an experience like no other.
The first example that comes to mind is the brand new Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Gamepad, compatible with Xbox One and PC (and confirmed to be compatible with the next generation Xbox consoles as well). This controller boasts a host of top shelf features, including swappable buttons and controls, rear inputs, adjustable triggers, and more. Everything about the Elite Series 2 is just that—elite. From its textured grips to its magnetic charging dock and everything in between, this controller spares no expense in refining the quality of your gaming experience.
Check out our review of the Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Gamepad
Another option—this time with PlayStation 4 gamers in mind—is the Astro C40 TR controller. This controller is much in the same vein as the Elite Series 2, granting PlayStation gamers access to the same wealth of premium features. Programmable inputs, swappable controls, rubber grips and more make the C40 another option for players looking to gain the best features the industry has to offer.
Check out our review of the Astro C40 TR controller
Finally, the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller may not have quite as many premium features (or the lofty price tag to boot), but it is certainly the premium experience for that console. This controller gives a more traditional gamepad feel to players who aren’t satisfied with the dual Joy-Con approach. Furthermore, it receives regular praise among many for its comfortable design and for its long battery life as well.
There are 2 primary types of battery power for most modern controllers. Some, such as the DualShock 4 have an internal, rechargeable battery. Other controllers such as the standard Xbox One controller require replaceable AA batteries. Choosing the right controller can depend on which scenario better suits your preference.
The upside to the former is never having to worry about replacing batteries or having those pesky AA’s on hand. Conversely, the downside is the possibility of losing your charge mid-game. Here there is no option but to plug in and recharge. Certain controllers may have hacks for reducing power consumption though—such as disabling the light bar on the DualShock 4 to extend its life.
On the other hand, a controller that uses replaceable batteries is always ready to go with a fresh swap of AA’s. However, frequent gamers may find it irritating and hard on their wallet to constantly keep them on hand.
There are also a number of solutions on the market to help combat the low battery epidemic. Controller docks, charge-and-play kits, and more can provide options to keep your controllers ready for action. It also never hurts to simply have a spare controller on hand to swap out when the current one is running low on juice.
Aesthetics and style
Sometimes choosing the right controller can boil down simply to style rather than function. For example, Nintendo’s Joy-Con controller essentially features one standard configuration across the entire platform. Yet a huge part of the appeal is the many interchangable colours and combinations of Joy-Cons.
To date the Joy-Con is available in a number of shades, from neon red and blue to purple, orange, green, pink, yellow—the list goes on. And since any two left and right Joy-Cons can pair together, many players revel in choosing their favourite combination.
This holds true for the DualShock 4 and Xbox One controller as well. If you already know that the standard console controller is the one for you, then it really comes down to choosing your favourite colour and aesthetic. Both have a wide range of shades and patterns to express your personal style.