Scuf Gaming’s new Vantage Controller for the PlayStation 4 sets an imposing standard for devices that’ll follow it, raising the bar to a height that won’t easily be reached anytime soon.
If you weren’t looking at the controller when you picked it up, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re gripping an Xbox Elite Controller. Taller at its center compared to a typical DualShock 4 controller and just as wide, the Scuf Vantage’s design is decided Xbox-like and dwarfs the PlayStation 4's basic controller in size and quality. With four extra paddles on the back, two more buttons just beneath the shoulders, and a range of customizable options, it fills a gap in Sony’s selection of controllers and provides an answer to the Xbox’s top-tier device.
The ergonomics of the Vantage stand out most prominently with your hands molding to the grips on the sides and immediately landing on the outermost back paddles. It’s got some weight to it – a weight that can be lessened by removing the vibration modules with ease – but it’s a comfortable weight that makes the controller feel solid and sturdy during long gaming sessions without being overbearing.
Those paddles on the back and the SAX buttons that are found right beneath the right and left bumpers are the most defining features of the Vantage, and they don’t disappoint. With a total of six extra input possibilities to make use of, it can be somewhat overwhelming at first, but once you configure them to your liking and invest time in different games, it’s hard to go back to a basic controller. The paddles can be removed to lessen the number of extra options until you’re comfortable with them, and remapping the buttons to different inputs couldn’t be easier. Moving a switch at the bottom of the device, holding down the input you want to remap a paddle or SAX button to, pressing the button for where you want the input to be configured, and flicking the switch back to its default position is all it takes to remap the controller. There’s no need for different game profiles with the Vantage since remapping controls when shifting to another game takes no more than a few seconds. A control disc to replace the D-Pad without having to pop off the faceplate also makes for a seamless transition between games that require more control over precise inputs from the directional inputs.
Featuring a range of customizable options, one part of the Vantage that was admittedly worrisome when first testing it was the removable faceplate. Fitted to the device with magnets with only a quick pull needed to replace the faceplate, there was some concern about it feeling cheap compared to more complicated customization efforts, but the Vantage proved to give nothing to worry about in that department. The decisive snap when the faceplate latches on tells you it’s not going anywhere unless you want it to, and being able to pop it off at any time and get under the hood of the controller makes for a much more personalized experience when swapping out thumbsticks for concave or convex options or switching to longer trigger covers.
If there was ever any annoyance to be had with the controller, the vibration modules would be the offender. Most of the sounds the controller makes are much quieter than a normal DualShock 4 with the exception of the right and left triggers, though there’s only so much you can do when they’ve got the greatest distance to travel and you’re using them most often behind only the thumbsticks. While the heavier vibrations feel and sound normal, more touch-and-go situations in games with patterns of short vibrations seem to produce a slight squeaking noise. It doesn’t sound “wrong” exactly, just different, and after popping the removable modules out and in to see if anything changes, it appears to just be part of the controller. It’s not a deal-breaking downside by any means, but it’s something that could take some getting used to during games’ quieter moments.
All these bells and whistles aren’t cheap though, and neither is Scuf’s Vantage controller. At $199.95 for the wireless model that doubles as a wired device with the included cable, the Scuf Vantage is one of the more expensive controllers on the market. The wired-only $169.95 version softens the blow, but once you pick up one of these controllers and spend about a week or so getting used to it, you’ll know exactly where that money went, and you won’t want to put it down.
Both the wired and wireless Scuf Vantage controllers can be purchased through Scuf Gaming for $169.95 and $199.95, respectively.
Review units for the wired and wireless Scuf Vantage controllers were provided by Scuf Gaming, this review focusing on the wireless version.