- The PlayStation 4 is a great console, and its DualShock 4 gamepad is one of the best available.
- But there are certain competitive games that benefit from having a few more bells and whistles than the DualShock 4 offers – Battle Royale games like “Fortnite” and “Apex Legends” are high on that list.
- A gaming peripheral-maker named Scuf makes a $US200 controller called the Vantage that offers a lot of those bells and whistles, but ultimately it fails on foundational issues.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
When Microsoft announced and released a $US150 game controller in 2015, I scoffed.
Sure, it was clearly higher quality than the standard gamepad. And yes, it was modular, meaning you could swap out components of it and even straight up add buttons. But $US150?
I’m not too proud to say that, after using the Xbox One Elite gamepad, I was sold. Not only is it a really good version of the Xbox One gamepad, but it’s got some sweet additions that make it feel worthwhile.
So when I heard about a $US200 PlayStation 4 gamepad that offered many of the same benefits as the Xbox One Elite gamepad, I was pretty excited to try it.
Unfortunately, unlike the Xbox One Elite gamepad, the $US200 Scuf Vantage controller for PlayStation 4 fell far short of my admittedly lofty expectations.
First and foremost: What’s the deal with this $US200 controller? What is it adding?
Like the Xbox One Elite gamepad from Microsoft, the Scuf Vantage promises a level of customisation that can’t be done with a regular gamepad. You can swap out the thumbsticks, the triggers, and the d-pad – you could even outright swap the faceplate if you’re so inclined.
Additionally, there are paddle attachments for the back that allow users to access buttons they’d otherwise have to use their thumbs to reach.
For instance: Instead of taking your right thumb off the thumbstick while aiming so that you can push the X button to jump, you could simply map the X button to one of the rear paddles.
That might sound small, but it’s pretty meaningful if you’re playing a competitive shooter like “Fortnite” where aiming while jumping provides a major advantage.
Additionally, the Scuf Vantage outright adds two additional shoulder buttons along the sides.
In short, the $US200 price is largely attributable to customisation options and additional buttons.
Right off the bat, just holding the Scuf Vantage, the controller feels cheap.
At $US150, the Xbox One Elite gamepad immediately feels like a premium product. The materials on it are clearly high-quality rubber and metal, and the controller has heft to it.
Its directional pad (d-pad), which is easily removable, satisfyingly snaps into place.
Everything about using the Xbox One Elite controller, even before you play a single game with it, feels high-quality.
The Scuf Vantage does not convey the same sense of quality – from the flimsy plastic thumbsticks, to the cheap-feeling plastic used on the entire back of the gamepad, to the rattle that the rear paddles make upon contact (more on those in a minute).
Frankly speaking, the Scuf Vantage feels like it’s lower-quality than the standard PlayStation 4 gamepad that comes with the console. And that was my first impression of the device before using it in a game.
Using the gamepad exposed some major flaws with base functionality — and that’s before we start talking about all the additional buttons.
The game I played most with the Scuf Vantage was “Apex Legends,” an incredibly fast, fluid, competitive Battle Royale game that benefits from precision control.
It’s a game that could take advantage of what the Scuf Vantage has to offer.
Every time I was able to jump around while aiming (and shooting) at enemies was a delight – it did indeed enable me to do something I was previously unable to do.
The downside, however, was also immediately evident: The right thumbstick, used for aiming, was repeatedly unreliable.
I’d find myself aiming at an enemy or attempting to grab loot on the ground when, suddenly, my view would float for a second or two. I honestly couldn’t believe it at first – we’re talking about the most foundational of functions. If you point at something with your thumbstick, it should go where you point it.
But with the Scuf Vantage, I repeatedly experienced “thumbstick drift.”
This is such a big problem that it outright obviates any benefits the controller otherwise offers. Simply put: If you can’t depend on aiming 100% of the time, the controller isn’t worth buying.
The bells and whistles are poorly implemented — I repeatedly found myself pushing the extra shoulder buttons by accident because of where they’re placed.
Of the four paddles on the back, only two are somewhat easily accessible – at least with my small hands. The two middle paddles are nearly impossible to reach with any ease. Should you decide to outright remove the paddles, there are sharp, angular pieces of plastic behind them that I found tremendously uncomfortable.
Worse: The extra shoulder buttons are far, far too easy to accidentally push.
You could re-map those buttons so that they didn’t accidentally trigger anything when you pushed them, but then what’s the point of them existing in the first place?
I don’t know who the Scuf Vantage is for, and I wouldn’t suggest anyone buy it.
At $US200, the Scuf Vantage feels overpriced – whether we’re talking about build quality, or what it offers over standard PlayStation 4 controllers, or any other potential reason you might be considering it.
If it were just $US100, I’d still recommend buying a standard, less expensive DualShock 4 gamepad over Scuf’s PS4 gamepad. Frankly, it lives up to every negative stereotype about third-party game controllers.
Sony’s PlayStation 4 deserves a gamepad that’s as good as the Xbox One Elite gamepad, and the Scuf Vantage just doesn’t fill that role.
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