Pro Controllers – Are They Worth It?

Why I Ask

I’ve been gaming for as long as I can remember.

As systems got more sophisticated, their hardware seemed to get more complicated. A large part of how a user enjoys the games on a system is how the controller is designed. With each new generation of consoles, it seemed like the consumers would get more buttons!

Photo Credit: Schylling.com

A second ‘action’ button to press, a start button a select button, shoulder buttons, a joystick, c-buttons, more should buttons, more face buttons, a second joystick, a share button, clickable joysticks, the list goes on.

No matter how many new buttons were added, it seemed the controller was doomed to always lag behind the functionality of a keyboard and mouse. If you have any doubts about this, please contact any member of the PC master race.

Since there’s only so many buttons you can put on a controller without making it seem intimidating, console players are often left with an abundance of idle fingers while gaming. Sure, you can practice the ‘claw method’ if you have a lot of time on your hands, but I’d imagine that the casual gamer isn’t gonna want to learn this configuration.

Speaking of which, for most casual games it is fine to only use a few of your fingers. Take any random sampling of Nintendo titles and you will find yourself in elite company by only using your thumbs and index fingers.

Hard core games are a little different in this respect, particularly in the ‘shooters’ genre. Since most of these series (ie. Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield) require games to navigate the map using two joysticks, the majority of people elect to dedicate their thumbs to navigation.

This is all well and good if you just want to run around the map, however, the objective of these games is typically to eliminate your opponents. That means jumping, interacting with doors, reloading, switching guns, marking enemies and crouching, among dozens of other things.

With the index fingers comfortably on the shoulder buttons, this usually means moving at least one thumb off a joystick to perform another necessary action. Since our brains and reflexes are blazing fast, the thumb is only away from the joystick for a fraction of a second. That’s not too bad for your average Joe.

For the overachievers out there, those real-time milliseconds are a days in the video game world. It’s precious time that takes away from your character moving in a direction or changing the position of your reticle. This can be frustrating when more than 60% of your hand is just holding the controller vs being productive.

But what if you could increase the utilization of your appendeges and reclaim some of that lost time?

Enter the “Pro Controller”

Disclaimer: I am not endorsed by any company; all thoughts below are my own. IF anyone would like to sponsor me, give me free things and/or money, that’d be cool though.

I think I first came across the Scuf controller while scrolling through social media. The customizable colors in the picture caught my eye so I decided to click into the ad.

Photo Credit: Scuf

After reading the specs, I thought to myself “oh, this is cool.” Then I saw the price tag and I exclaimed “excuse me?!”

The controller costs more than some of the Xbox One bundles I had seen.

Luckily, we live in a world where there are usually cheaper options for a product. A quick Google search produced a handful of similar hardware results. Before even clicking on any pictures, I saw that they were all about the same price.

My next step was obvious: swing over to Youtube to find out if the hefty price tag was “worth it”. Many gamers claimed their pro controller was a game changer, no pun intended. I didn’t want to believe the hype so I kept digging.

The one thing that concerned me was an often-mentioned belief that the quality of these 3rd party controllers was low and many consumers reported having their hardware fail within the first 6 months. This was slightly off-putting given the 4x markup vs the stock controller that I had grown accustomed to.

I was torn. On one hand, this type of upgrade could take my Fortnite gameplay to the next level. On the other hand, these controllers were SO expensive (and seemingly faulty).

I discussed my stance with my fiancee, explaining the pros and cons then asking for her recommendation. She said I should go for it. I said it was too expensive. She said okay. Life continued on.

The next day, I spent my commute to work continuing my research on whether it made sense to take the leap and just swipe my credit card. I pondered for the next 10 hours or so then decided against making the purchase.

That night, I saw a piece of paper on the couch with several letters, numbers and dashes written on it. I knew immediately what the code was for. My fiancee had purchased a Scuf gift card for me to customize and order a controller! I like her; she is the best.

I got to work on selecting features for my build. Red and blue trim, textured grip covering, circular D-pad, the works. Order was placed and it was now time to wait anxiously for my gaming revolution.

Was it all Worth It?

The delivery arrived in about 10 days. I opened up the box and saw this:

Nice.

Removing the components from the box was a smooth experience. I liked that everything had it’s own place.

So far, so good.

I synched the controller with my PS4, booted up Fortnite and prepared myself for the strangeness of pressing trigger buttons.

The first thing I noticed was the high sensitivity of the default hairpin trigger configuration of the R2 and L2 buttons. There were several times where I just barely grazed the shoulder buttons and would accidentally fire off my weapon. This was easily fixed by adjusting the stopper on the back of the controller.

Next up were the signature Scuf controllers. These are mapped to X and O out of the box but can be changed with an electromagnetic key if you add that option.

Honestly, this felt really weird in the beginning. My brain was so confused that I actually used my ring fingers to hit the triggers. It might just be me, but these are the weakest fingers on my hand. I found myself struggling to depress the triggers at times and was baffled as to how anyone had the dexterity to handle this controller.

Days later, when I realized I was holding the controller incorrectly, I switched up my grip and things were much more comfortable.

If I had to guess, I’d say it took me about a month before I was really comfortable using the triggers rather than falling back to my old ways with the standard X and O button. There were a lot of silly deaths and even more building fails as my hands developed the necessary muscle memory. But when I did, oh man, did it make a difference!

My gameplay has drastically changed since I started using the controller, particularly in Fortnite:

  1. Jumping while adjusting my reticle has allowed me to win a ton more close-quarters fights. I feel like I have a big advantage over gamers who have that small delay between going airborn and lining up their shot.
  2. Switching to build mode is faster, which has saved me in numerous instances where the opponent gets the first shot on me. This is also useful in build battles where you need to sneak a shotgun blast in between dropping walls.

I’m not 100% sure if the battery is better but my Scuf seems to last longer than the dualshock Sony controllers. This is a nice benefit that I hadn’t counted on.

One drawback I’ve noticed is that the left joystick collects debris very quickly. This is easily cleaned by dipping a cotton swab into some isopropyl alcohol (use 99% for electronics) and swabbing away.

The Final Verdict

I can confidently say that my skill ceiling has been raised by using this controller. It was difficult for me to believe all the hype that I read online, but my K/D ratio has seen a nice bump since I made the switch.

The product is expensive, but I think it’s worth it for anyone who plays competitive shooter games and has the disposable income to afford it. There are cheaper options (check out Amazon’s offering here or consider picking up a used Scuf) but most of them have lower user ratings.

My next gaming accessory purchase will likely be a dedicated monitor or gaming chair. Until then, I’m enjoying the newfound power of the pro controller!

Have you considered upgrading your hardware? What purchases are you considering? Leave a comment below!

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