The Controller People Custom PS4 Pro Controller Review
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I’ve spent the past week playing around with a customized PS4 controller from The Controller People, a UK-based hardware company that specializes in Playstation controllers. After some extensive testing, I’ve come to the conclusion that Sony makes some really great hardware you can mess with and that the Controller People do a solid job of messing with it.
TCP uses official Sony components to make their hardware, meaning that what you hold in your hot little hands has got the Playstation seal of approval right from the get-go. This is awesome. I’m old enough to remember Mad Catz and their ilk, and I remember the unique pain that came with settling for third-party hardware for multiplayer games. There is none of that needless suffering here. The Controller People have made a wise decision in using official Sony base components. Picking this thing up in your hands feels excellent. Everything is where it should be, the rubber grips on the back are high-quality and the weight is spot-on. All the basics are in place.
Certain games benefit from different styles of controls. Fighting games, shooters and anything else with twitch reflex components included can always stand to be faster. To this end, TCP’s Pro model comes with analog sticks you can swap out. Maybe you need them taller, or shorter, there’s a backup set of sticks for that. I slapped on the shortest sticks, thinking they would afford some extra edge in play. Presumably, the longer ones are better suited for careful movement and simulation. As it turns out, the shortest sticks are merely the standard size PS4 analogs. I did test out the longest sticks in a couple games. They neither helped nor hindered my efforts in Wolfenstein: The New Order, though I haven’t played that game enough to use that as a proper testing ground. A second round of testing showcased the longer sticks use in precision aiming. This isn’t to say my aim got immediately better, this simply means that an extended range of motion gave me more room to line up my shots. I still took out most Nazis through the legs/groin region. For the analog sticks, it seems like you would need a fairly long time to settle into which size worked best for which situation. At the end of all that, however, you’d have a robust skill set built around the different sizes.
“The Controller People have made a wise decision in using official Sony base components.”
Have you ever found yourself thinking that the buttons are just too darn far away? Perhaps you feel like said buttons would better serve you on the back of the controller instead? Well, wonder no more! TCP’s ClickSticks map the two most essential buttons of your choosing to the back of the controller, within easy reach of your middle fingers. The model I tested out used X and O as the ClickStick buttons of choice. The associated data card suggested that other models (not this one, though) allow you to remap these buttons at your discretion. From my experience, there’s no face button so distant that I need immediate access to remedy the situation. On top of that, it feels like more than the usual amount of effort is required to press them. This suggests something other than speed to me, although they are an ergonomic delight. It feels like the perfect spot for some extra inputs, albeit ones with less muscle required. For testing these additions, I turned once again to Bloodborne. Turns out the ClickSticks are better suited to occasional inputs, rather than continuous ones. If you try to hold them down, you end up dragging them out of alignment, which is bad. Rom the Vacuous put his hairy legs right up my butt so many times thanks to a reliance on those sticks.
Something that’s always felt weird about the PS4 controller are the shoulder buttons. Specifically L2 and R2. Like TCP’s ClickSticks, they require a lot of effort to fully depress. This custom PS4 controller has an option to alleviate this problem. Built into the shoulders are Spring Stop Triggers, two tiny magnetic nubs that stop the button from being fully pressed. This seems counter-intuitive until you realize that you don’t actually need to press them down all the way to register the action. Neat, right? If you wanna let loose with a flurry of R2s for whatever reason, heavy weapons fire, for example, this makes it a little easier. But be warned! If those tiny nubs are in place, certain games won’t register you having pressed them at all. Testing is required from game to game, in order to keep yourself out of hot water. Horizon Zero Dawn, for example, relies on an R2 that must be fully pressed. I got butchered by a snapper or two before I figured that out. Final Fantasy 12 came with similar troubles for me. The Mist abilities in that game require a full click of R2. Without that, I got into a bit of hot water. For this feature, you need to know ahead of time (or through trial and error) what kind of inputs the game requires.
There’s definitely an audience out there for this controller. The adjustable analog sticks, the ClickSticks and the Spring Stop Triggers are all geared towards fine-tuned adjustment and high-level play. I feel like the selection of games I used for testing purposes were unsuitable for this controller’s design philosophy. Still, I can’t endorse those ClickSticks. Beyond anything else, they don’t feel right. Any input besides a quick tap with your middle finger is inviting problems into your play session. Bloodborne provided an ample testing ground for pushing each function to its upper limit. At this time I’d already removed the Spring Stop Triggers, knowing that Bloodborne was yet another game with which they were incompatible. FPS games like Wolfenstein are a much better fit. The analog sticks, the Spring Stop Triggers and the ClickSticks all work pretty well in a shooter environment. Overall, this custom model from The Controller People is a valuable investment, depending on what kind of gaming you do.
***The hardware in question was provided by the manufacturer***
- Made with official Playstation base components
- Tons of color customization options
- Analog sticks feel good to use at any height
- ClickSticks not as useful as I’d hoped
- Spring Stop Triggers impede play for some games