The PlayStation 4 controller is such a significant upgrade to the PlayStation 3 version that initially I was hard pressed to complain. However, that fact doesn’t preclude it from critique, and the truth is it does have its faults. That is where Scuf and their pro style controllers come into play. Scuf allows you to customize your controller of choice (they offer an Xbox One version as well) with a variety of options designed to make playing your favorite game as comfortable and efficient an experience as possible.
The process goes as follows. You pick your model and color, and then you pick your optional accouterments. These include options like adjusting the height of the triggers, choosing between concave or domed analog sticks, as well as the height of each one. Each controller also has two paddle controls, which you can assign any input to. There are a variety of options to choose from, and while it can become rather expensive, there is something to all this customization craziness.
The controller I reviewed is the 4PS Playstation 4 model. I left the triggers at default height, as well as the sticks, but I did go with the recommended concave left stick and domed right stick. I also went with the pre-assigned paddle buttons, X and O, and had the control disc attachment for the D-Pad added. Let's go through each one individually and see how that all stacked up.
Each Scuf controller comes with a special grip on either side. This was immediately noticeable, and now I have a whale of a time going back to one without it. The controller doesn't slide at all, and just fits better in my hands.
The standard controller is known for its somewhat mushy triggers. Thankfully the 4PS is much sturdier. The true test was setting them on the arm of my couch. I know, truly rigorous standards here, but let me explain. During any kind of show or movie I set my PS4 controller on the arm of my couch. Typically what happens is multiple times during said show or movie the controller starts forwarding or rewinding my show on its own, since the triggers are so jelly that they can't even hold up against immobile fabric. Putting the 4PS to the same test on a regular basis, this has maybe happened 3 times since I've owned it, which has been for about two months and change. Not perfect mind you, but a significant improvement.
Paddle Control System
The paddle controls are supposed to alleviate stress in your hands by allowing your fingers to not have to leave the primary position as often to hit the face buttons. You can choose which input is assigned to each paddle. I chose the standard left - O and right - X layout. The paddles themselves feel sturdy and respond well, even to games that have you slamming the same button time and time again (think God of War). The only issue that I came across is that the default input layout I chose didn’t suit every game all that well. I am right handed, so I should’ve chosen the X on the right and O on the left. That being my fault, not the controllers, but because of that my time using them wasn't near as intuitive as it could be. If you plan on buying one of these, I would suggest adding the optional magnetic key, which allows you to reprogram the input assignments. That way depending on the game you can reassign as needed and you won’t have that issue. Just a tip courtesy of my mistake. I did use the setup quite a bit regardless of the layout snafu, and grew to enjoy it when I was able to really utilize them.
The other heavily customizable feature is the shape and height of the analog sticks themselves. You can have up to three different heights, and can pick between concave or domed sticks. Right off the bat I noticed how crisply these clicked in comparison to the default PS4 sticks. Going with the default suggestion of left stick - concave and right stick - domed was the right move for me. While I will always prefer the analog stick layout of an Xbox controller, adjusting the sticks in this way helped lessen the gap between the two. Aside from moving the sticks position entirely, this is about as close as I’m going to get. In addition to the better quality, each stick also has a grip like texture to them, so your thumbs rarely if ever slide off.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the optional control disc. The disc attaches and sits atop the normal D-Pad, providing a fully circular disc with which to better hit directional inputs. I tested this out on my fighting game of choice at the moment, Ultra Street Fighter 4. Typically my go-to characters are charge characters like Chun-Li. These types of fighters can be difficult to use for those without a fight-stick, but my devoted fighting game playtime isn't of the frequency that one is absolutely essential to own. The control disc attachment provides the perfect compromise. It won't replace a fighting stick by any means, but it does improve the experience of using the D-Pad tremendously, and made pulling off moves infinitely easier. I started to feel as if the controller wasn't fighting me anymore, and if I screwed up a combo or move, it was all on me. Granted, not perfect, but if you are one to invite some friends over to play a few rounds, and you don't own a pro joystick, then this is definitely a worthy option.
When choosing whether to go the third party route with controllers, quality and price is key. The Scuf 4PS still has the Sony "feel" if you will, just with some crucial fixes to the original's flaws. Getting just the base unit will run you about $119, and every option you add along the way will up that already significant cost. Your mileage out of this will vary greatly upon how much time you spend gaming. I don't get to play games as much as I would like, but when I do I tend to make each session count, so investing in a controller that makes that experience more enjoyable and less cumbersome is well worth it to me. If you happen to be in the market for a new controller, I definitely suggest giving the Scuf Gaming 4PS a try.