I’ve been using a PS3 controller for my PC for the past 8 years and I think the darn thing is finally dying on me, so I’m in the market for a new one. Controllers from Microsoft consoles tend to hurt my hands, so does anyone have any good experiences with controllers meant exclusively for the PC?
Not sure if you’re aware but Dualshock 4s can work great on PC.
If you’re not opposed to customising control schemes and putting in a little leg-work depending on the type of game you’re playing, I definitely recommend the Steam controller. The dedicated subreddit is fantastic for support and a general overview, if you’re interested.
If you’re using Steam then it automagically converts DirectInput (the old standard for all joystick etc that Sony still uses for their pads) to XInput (the new Windows standard MS introduced with the 360 for newer games) so basically any controller should work really well as long as you’re able to cope with button prompts that usually now assume you’re using a 360 pad (a handful of games do have official PS icons too, some mods exist to add them in other games, but it’s not the norm). I assume, as you’re used to a DS3, that you’re fully versed in this stuff and so that’s not a major factor (some 3rd party controllers use one standard, some use the other - it can make a difference to some users who just want something that always just appears like a 360 pad without needing something to act as an interface). My experience of PC-only controllers has generally been things feeling like cheap 360 clones on the whole, which is not really where I want to go (as a 360 wired feels fine to me up until the point where my nails scratch the rubber off the top of the sticks).
Personally, I really like the feel of a DS4 (good weight, perfect stick resistance, good trigger resistance and pull distance, no buttons feel “mushy”) but they’re not exactly cheap. I’d say the big change is slightly moved centre of gravity towards the arms (bits your fingers wrap around) and ever so slightly heavier. But if you really liked the sticks or triggers on the DS3 (I did not) then the DS4 feels totally different and you may not like the change.
As someone who worked at a game studio testing a bunch of non-Xbox controllers for our game, a lot of the third party controllers are quite a lot worse than the console manufacturers’ products. Even Logitech gamepads were not that great (at least at the time).
Can’t speak to the Steam Controller though as we never had one of those at the office.
I use various input devices for different games. When playing fighting games it’s either a Madcatz fightpad or fightstick depending on series. Otherwise I switch between the Xbox one and a Razer Raiju. The latter is really boss but overpriced. But if I was used to playing ps3 on pc I’d probably do the recommended thing and just pick a ps4 controller.
They might be hard to find now, but I’m big into using Wii U Pro Controllers with the Mayflash Adapter (or any other Bluetooth adapter). They’re lightweight, have as long as 80 hours of battery life, durable, and unlike most of the alternatives have good D-Pads. Mayflash gives you access to easy A-B/X-Y inverts if you’re using Xbox prompts, but I tend to just use PS3/PS4 prompts instead to avoid confusion.
Is there something I’m missing or is a PS4 controller only recognized automatically if it’s plugged in by micro USB? Like, I can use it wirelessly using DS4Windows, but that also seems to make Windows think it’s an XBox controller (which can be a good thing in some cases).
I second this. The WiiU pro controller is my handle for PC gaming and it is perfect for me.
There are only two real downsides. One is you need to get over the mental hump of button placement. If you leave the buttons as is, a lot of on screen displays of button prompts will be in the wrong place and you’ll need to mentally correct, or if you swap the inputs to match Xbox placement you’ll have to get over the fact that you’re pressing the wrong button on its face. The other downside is the triggers are not analog so if you’re trying to do some fine tune racing games you’re out of luck.
Other than that though, it’s very comfortable, sturdy, and my god the battery life. I don’t know what black magic they did to make these things, but I go so long between charges that I lose the cord. I have to remember why there’s a light glowing on the front of it because I haven’t been warned about battery level in weeks.
I 10000% endorse the Steam Controller. I’m desperately in love with grip buttons and use them in a lot in games. I love the touchpads, and how I can make them respond to a button push or to a light tap depending on what game i’m playing. And it works well for games that REALLY should be KB+M, which is great when I wanna play from the couch. Love it.
The Switch Pro Controller works pretty well on PC. It’s quite a bit more expensive than either PS4 or Xbox One, but if you already have a Switch, it’s worth a try.
Also, if you haven’t used an Xbox controller since the 360, I recommend trying out an Xbox One controller. There’s a lot of subtle design improvements that make it feel much better. The springs in the joystciks and the triggers are much lighter, and they have less deadzone. They also got rid of those annoying joystick nubs that dig-in to your thumb. The face buttons are closer together, and all of the buttons and the bumpers seem shallower and easier to press. The trigger design is also totally different: it’s a wide design that lets you use your whole finger, similar to a PS controller but slightly more concave. They finally replaced the crappy circle d-pad with a real d-pad.Also, the controller seems to use a different type of plastic that feels much nicer and less, uh, sweaty? And it weighs less (although not quite as light as a Dualshock).
So, if you had issues with the 360 controller hurting your hands, the Xbox One controller might still be worth a shot.
Dual Shock 4 is also a great controller. I have noticed that the joysticks seem a little less durable than the Xbox One. The springs they use are slightly looser than the Xbox One, and they also seem to wear-out faster so older controllers feel really loose. The rubber also seems to wear down a bit faster. But they’re still better than most of the 3rd-party controllers.
I wouldn’t recommend the Steam Controller because it can only be used with Steam. If you wanted to play Overwatch, Diablo 3, Fortnite, etc. then you have to do some weird work-arounds by adding it as a non-steam game, launching the game through steam, and mess around with the configuration.
Just buy another PS3 pad. I really don’t see much of a reason to move off of it, plus they’re the cheaper option.
So an important thing to know about the Switch Pro Controller for PC is it isn’t the standard hardware (X buttons, Y sticks, Z analogue triggers) because it doesn’t have triggers. It’s a DS1/Dual Analog era controller (pre-2000) with digital buttons rather than analogue triggers. Pay more for an outdated option - welcome to Nintendo.
So not much use if you’re planning on getting a PC racing game or any other genre that requires an analogue trigger input.
Also PC games expect an xbox layout of buttons so you’ll be seeing A/B or X/Y prompts on the screen while the buttons on the controller are flipped - I’m fine with getting letters and having symbols on my controller but something about seeing B and having to always press A messes with me far more.
I really wouldn’t recommend it to any PC players.
I’m a big fan of DualShock4Windows, easy install and a lot of customization
(you can make the lights on the DualShock a real nice soft pink)
Thanks, everyone! I think I’ll be going with the DS4, since it’s so close to what I’m used to. I didn’t know it was already compatible with PC, since I had to go through a ton of legwork to get the DS3 to work in the first place, at first with MotioninJoy, then Joy2Key.
It only has native compatibility if the game includes support (Ubisoft games are typically good on that front, as an example). Otherwise you’ll have to use something like DS4Windows, or Steam, as others have mentioned. It’s a very small hurdle.
The DS4 is a damn solid controller, and in my opinion a considerable upgrade from the DS3.
It’s a wired controller and it’s not a PC exclusive, but the PowerA Fusion (~$30) has been a surprisingly solid PC/Xbox controller for me so far:
It’s a little smaller than the stock Xbox One controller and it has swappable thumb sticks (convex, concave, raised), which might help you in terms of comfort.
Just wanted to hop in and mention that, no matter how cheap, don’t get the steam controller, it is awful at emulating the feeling of a gamepad. just an awful piece of hardware.
Only problems I’ve had with DS4 has been the wireless mode, now that I’ve stopped using DS4Windows and instead just rely on Steam’s built in controller recognition. The recognition has generally been solid, although I’ve had to fiddle around with a handful of games; sometimes because they already have support built in, leading to a dual input situation, or they’re just terrible at recognising or properly mapping controllers once they do.
Generally though, Dualshock 4 is my fave, and seems to be officially supported more and more these days. The button prompt issue can often be remedied with a simple sprite mod too, I did that recently with Monster Hunter: World.