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Official “pro” controllers for Sony’s PlayStation Four are in a perplexing class. While Microsoft’s Xbox Elite, and its second-generation model launched final yr, have provided all of the advantages of a high-end gamepad in a best-in-class bundle, Sony has stubbornly refused to do the identical for its console, leaving the market up to a smattering of third-party firms with various levels of high quality.

None are actually all that great. Even the finest one, Astro’s C40 TR, prices $200 and will often require you buy alternative thumbstick modules for $20 apiece due to how dysfunctional these elements can develop into over time.

Now, Sony has a compromise of kinds: a $30 controller attachment for its present DualShock 4. The concept is that you simply get all of the identical advantages of a pro gamepad, most prominently the remappable again paddles, with out sacrificing the design, consolation, or common reliability of Sony’s tried-and-true PS4 controller. After utilizing the attachment for quite a few multihour play classes this previous weekend, I can say it actually is the best choice for the overwhelming majority of PS4 house owners on the market who’re even casually interested by the world of pro gamepads.

This $30 PS4 accessory is the cheapest way to get a great pro controller 1

Photo by Brennan King / The Verge

Sony’s strategy isn’t a novel one. A variety of firms have made most of these equipment for years, however they have an inclination to be low-cost and plastic and don’t precisely play properly with proprietary Sony software program; typically, it’s not very lengthy till they merely cease working altogether. Sony’s mannequin is a step above in lots of regards.

It feels high-quality and comes with an OLED display that shows info like your present button assignments and the customizable profile you’re working. It slips onto the DualShock Four with a comfortable match by plugging into the 3.5mm audio jack at the backside, however the attachment itself retains a 3.5mm port in the occasion you need to plug in a wired headset.

The key benefit right here for Sony’s attachment is that it doesn’t use paddles. Instead, it makes use of clickable buttons that sit flush with the two rear grip areas of the DualShock 4. That’s essential to the longevity of this product. While I can’t say Sony’s Back Button Attachment (that is, sadly, the official product identify) will last more than the competitors, as a result of I haven’t used it for that lengthy, it actually conjures up confidence to know that I can’t unintentionally snap the again button in half, as I have performed a number of occasions with the paddles on Scuf controllers.

A variety of pro controllers, like Astro’s, and a new crop of expensive pro PS4 gamepads from opponents, like Razer and Nacon, have additionally switched to this button strategy over the paddle one in recent times. But once more, all of these units are greater than $150.

As for the software program and remapping course of, it’s comparatively simple, and it helps fairly a bit that the attachment has a show. With different pro controllers, together with even Microsoft’s wonderful Elite, you’re both programming these again buttons or paddles and simply hoping you’ve performed it proper by testing it reside in-game. Or you’re utilizing software program on a Mac or PC (or on the Xbox itself in the case of the Elite) that requires you to plug in the gadget and tinker with its settings. Neither are actually ideally suited. With Sony’s attachment, nevertheless, you get details about your settings proper on the gadget itself.

You can program up to three profiles, however the attachment works out of the field with ones Sony has pre-programmed, together with the quite common “X” and “O” setup that most individuals use for first-person shooters. (Replicating these two buttons with again buttons or paddles means you possibly can leap and in addition crouch or reload with out eradicating your proper thumb off the stick, providing you with a slight edge in aggressive eventualities.)

This $30 PS4 accessory is the cheapest way to get a great pro controller 2

Photo by Brennan King / The Verge

This $30 PS4 accessory is the cheapest way to get a great pro controller 3

Photo by Brennan King / The Verge

This $30 PS4 accessory is the cheapest way to get a great pro controller 4

Photo by Brennan King / The Verge

This $30 PS4 accessory is the cheapest way to get a great pro controller 5

Photo by Brennan King / The Verge

Programming the varied profiles is easy and straightforward to carry out through the use of the two again buttons to cycle by obtainable button instructions. To enter programming mode and cycle by profiles, you simply maintain after which double faucet the middle OLED display. It took me all of 5 minutes to determine how to do that after perusing the instruction guide. It additionally seems that the attachment remembers what profile you’re on, so that you don’t have to cycle by them each time to get to one you need.

There are some downsides. Most notably, you solely get two again buttons as an alternative of 4. Some of the expensive choices from Razer and Nacon do have two added buttons that allow you to go even deeper into customization, and it’s unlikely Sony might ever provide you with a design that may accommodate extra than simply two rear buttons with out reengineering the again of the controller itself.

It’s additionally not clear what sort of a drain the attachment would possibly current to the DualShock 4’s already abysmal battery life. I didn’t discover something out of the extraordinary in my utilization, however I typically have to plug my controller in following each session as a result of my DualShock Four finally ends up on its final legs after even simply three hours or so of play. So that is perhaps a consideration for anybody who sits far-off from their tv whereas enjoying and doesn’t simply have a way to plug in and play at the identical time.

Still, for $30, Sony’s Back Button Attachment, which launches on January 23rd in North America, is a remarkably well-made accessory that ought to current a adequate different to lots of the costly, unreliable, and cumbersome third-party PS4 controller choices on the market. If you’re simply trying to see what all the fuss is about and whether or not you’ll truly see your self bettering utilizing one thing like this, it’s a stable purchase. Even for those who is perhaps contemplating a Scuf controller and even one thing as expensive as the Astro C40 TR, I will surely advocate you do that first.

At the very least, you’ll uncover should you do need one thing a little extra premium. But you additionally may discover that the Back Button Attachment does every little thing you want it do for one-fifth the worth.

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