What's the best video game controller of them all? You could probably make a case for many of them. It's a very subjective question, but you have to imagine Sony's various iterations of the DualShock would be in the running, given it's a design the company has reused multiple times. For our money, though, the DualSense is probably the best Sony has ever produced — but how does it stack up against other platforms?
Well, if you ask the public, apparently very favourably. BAFTA Games recently held a tournament to find the best controller ever, pitting various pads from throughout the years against each other in a number of Twitter polls. In the end, it came down to the DualSense vs. the DualShock 2, and the PlayStation 5 controller prevailed:
Yes, the DualSense was crowned the greatest controller ever by public vote. That's a pretty great endorsement for the pad, and we'd say it's a deserving winner. There are many fantastic controllers, but DualSense's haptic feedback and adaptive triggers push it over the edge, and the physical design is an improvement on the DualShock in basically every way.
Anyway, do you agree? Is the DualSense overall the best controller? Have your say in the comments section below.
Can't believe the old school Atari joystick was even in the running. I broke so many of those playing any game where you had to, dare I say it, waggle your joystick 😜
I've only recently started using the Dualsense for lengthy gaming sessions and I don't like it at all - it just doesn't sit right in my hands for some reason and I end up cramping after half an hour or so. My favourite is still the Xbox Elite Mk.2.
Can't believe the Guitar Hero III controller didn't win this.
This was obviously a popularity vote more than anything but at the very least most would agree it's the best PlayStation controller
I still prefer the DS4, that's probably my favourite of all time. It's just a much better fit for my hands, I find the DualSense a bit too big and weirdly shaped. Can't believe they had the DualShock 2 and not the 4 on the vote though, that seems weird.
I get that it's new and recency bias might be a factor, but I think the DualSense really is the most comfortable and well designed controller I've ever used. It's just a pleasure to play games with, and the functionality is unrivalled. Sony really went above and beyond with it.
I like the dualsense but I don't think I can agree. At least not for fighting games anyway which is a big deal for me. I've been trying to do the combo trials in P4AU and I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally hit the touchpad on the d-pad side and refreshed the stage. They are too close to each other I think. I remember not having this issue on the dualshock 4 though. The duelshock 4 is probably my personal favorite.
I'm the biggest Sonystan you're probably ever gonna meet and I'mma let you finish, but the Gamecube controller is without doubt the best, most ergonomically designed controller there has ever been. The best controller of all time.
It’s fugly as hell but I have to agree - it is the best.
I'm quite curious how they chose the controllers. Clearly it's a case of the initial one the system launched with, but then they include Dualshock 2, but not 1, 3 or 4, only one Xbox controller but also the Kinect is here for some reason, no Switch Pro Controller, and a....dance pad?
@ShogunRok Completely agree. There's a hesitation to acknowledge that something new might be the best thing ever when we have nostalgia for something else, but this controller is magic.
I mean I can feel the gears shift in GT7.
I can feel rain drops on my suit in Returnal.
The texture of the ground I roll over in Astro.
Plus it's very comfortable to hold and has that lovely premium design with the symbols on the grips.
It's a masterclass. The bar has been raised quite a bit with this one.
While it's a great controller it's not without its flaws. My DualSense triggers became loose and very sensitive to a simple light finger rest on them four months in on a launch console.
I think this was due to the pressure adaptive feedback on them. Sony replaced it under warranty and I've disabled the trigger feature without issue since.
I've always felt that the triggers on Xbox controllers are far better. Never had an issue with them.
I also use thumbtacks over the sticks because I don't like how they feel. They're not 'grippy' enough for me but I do this on every controller.
I also miss the iconic colours for the shapes.
I prefer the Switch Pro Controller it feels really nice
Skill Up summed it up best. Two next gen consoles released but only one came with a next gen controller.
Honestly…the PS4 controller is more comfortable in my hand, and the trigger buttons losing their ridge has caused a few accidental hits of L1/R1 , plus not having the light bar means it, annoyingly, can’t be used with my PSVR but, apart from a few niggles like this, for its features, yes, definitely the best.
You could improve it further with programmable paddles on the back though, I was disappointed this wasn’t a thing after the PS4 controller add-on.
The most annoying thing about PS controllers since the six-axis has been how under-utilised the motion features are. Could have been great for aiming in first person games for example…but that’s really MS’s fault for wanting only the basics and devs not wanting to make different versions of the same game.
@LN78 it's hard to go back to even normal Xbox controllers after getting used to elite 2 , just pity a lot had a few flaws or it would be perfect
@elvisfan1 Was going to comment this. Let's also not forget that the controller was one durable mf, we never took care of them as kids but I bet that the controllers will work if I boot up my gamecube now.
I have used my DS4 some lately and I like it better for comfort. But the haptics and adaptive triggers of the DualSense do make it an overall better unit. I just wish it was more form-fitting to hold for long sessions.
@GADG3Tx87 It's not because of the adaptive triggers. It's the springs in the triggers that weren't the best quality and it was a relatively common issue (apparently they're using better ones in new units though).
You might think that you're putting more strain on the strings because you have to use more force to move the trigger but that's not actually true. The strain on the spring is only relative to the trigger's position so it's the same regardless of the adaptive trigger mechanism being engaged or not.
I would agree with this conclusion. It is not perfect, but is amongst the most comfortable and definitely most immersive of all time. In total, that gives it an edge in my book.
There's recency bias here of course, but it's definitely up there in my opinion.
That's because only people with 2 arms voted. The N64 controller is clearly the winner for any 3+ armed people.
@elvisfan1 Never owned a GameCube, but I might agree, having the controller for my Switch. Honestly though, I really like the joy cons too. I play my Switch mostly with two separate joy cons and it’s such a seamless gaming experience. I don’t even always feel like I’m even using a controller a lot of the time.
However, the Dualsense is also in the running for me. I just love the functionality of the controller. It’s easily my favorite PS controller. I know many may disagree with me, but I’ve long felt that PS controller tend to be cheap and uncomfortable, if a genuine standard, for the industry. The Dualsense, however, feels like a more expensive controller with so many unique features. I would say the Xbox Series controller is a tad bit more comfortable, but the Dualsense easily tops it for the features it has. When Stadia came out and I felt PS and MS needed to step up their game because the controller was so well designed, and I’m glad they both did.
Also, don’t necessarily think it’s recency bias on controllers. As an industry each generation SHOULD be an evolution on the last. Granted, that hasn’t always happened, but it’s how things should be.
The Snes controller is my favourite, along with megadrive and Saturn.
Many good controllers out there but when I first used the Dualsense I could really tell a difference and it really felt next generation out of anything I have tried before with PlayStation at least.
One thing that really stood out for me this generation not only a new console but a new controller.
Makes sense. Dualsense is the best controller ever made after all. Just try using a DS4 after touching a dualsense, it's night and day.
The fact that the DS3 controller beat out the XBO Elite nullifies that entire bracket. I'm sure the DualSense is a fine controller but the DS3 was garbage.
I definitely prefer the Xbox controller especially for longer gaming sessions. If only the made the d-pad less crunchier/noisier.
I have the switch pro controller and the xbox series controller as well and can agree with the dualsense as it is much better, but the switch pro controller has the best battery out of any controller I've ever owned
@somnambulance The only reason the DualSense wouldn't top my list is because it's way too big. It's uncomfortable for me to reach all the buttons properly so Lord knows what it's like for a child. I do have small hands though.
I like my White PS4 Controller as I have PS4 Slim.
Can't argue, it's a fantastic controller. Loved it as soon as I wrapped my cloven hooves around it, but what really makes me realise how good it is, is when you use another controller. Aside from its comfort, Dualsense compared to everything else just feels so..... Alive.
Inspired piece of design by Sony and my favourite controller ever (with DS4 in the runner up spot, followed by Xbox 360's still lovely pad).
Did once have to replace one of the tiny springs in the trigger though, but it's worked brilliantly since.
At the moment I'd say Switch pro controller is the best controller. It has the right balance between tech used to improve the gameplay experience, battery life and it doesn't have an internal microphone.
It absolutely sucks for fighters, but for everything else, I prefer this controller to anything.
I have to admit, it’s the comfiest controller I’ve ever used
I've seen the videos of the supposed improvement to the springs at 0.36mm. Not sure if it will do much in performance, I suppose we'll see. I just assumed that the added pressure for some games weakened the springs.
Although that did also happen on one of my DualShock 4's too. I don't think Sony are very good when it comes to triggers personally and I feel that Xbox controllers are better at that. Even though both have their pros and cons.
For one thing in PlayStation's favour I do think their D-Pads are better than Xbox controllers and always have been.
To be fair, I expect Microsoft to follow this and release something similar for the Xbox. If they don't then it's a missed opportunity because the dual sense controller is fantastic.
Definitely a game changer (pun intended) for this generation. Not only the haptic feedback and the triggers, but the speaker is drastically improved this time around.
The only issue is I do find the controller a little uncomfortable after long sessions.
@GADG3Tx87 I had the same thing the other day. Ordered a some springs for a few quid off Amazon, took the back off the pad and replaced the snapped spring. Took about 20 minutes.
Hopefully the updated springs in the new pads will be a lot stronger.
I could agree with the result if it didn't beat out the Dualshock 2 in the final,and that beat the Xbox One Elite controller in the previous round!
Your top 5 for most gamers is probably:
2. Xbox 360 Controller
4. SNES Pad
5. Wii Remote
I agree. When used to it's potential, it really does add another level of immersion.
The duelsense is a perfect fit for me. Plus, it has everything! Gyros, touchpad, mic/speaker for parties, haptics, adaptive triggers and the cosmic red edition is beautiful to behold.
It is the best ever controller and there is no going back to those cheap plaggy ds4's.
Agreed. It's a fantastic controller and I would argue... the main reason to own a PS5.
Are the replacement springs you bought identical to the new ones? Or maybe better/stronger?
I might even consider doing that myself because I always feel a little anxiety towards triggers in PlayStation controllers. It's happened to one PS3, one PS4 and now one PS5.
I look after stuff very well but they've never been very reliable.
I replaced the springs in my DS3 and DS4 in the past.
I don't think much of the new colours for the DualSense controllers and replacing the springs with stronger ones would be better than buying a new controller just for that.
I love it and if I am buying any games that are on both Series X and PS5 then I’ll look at what duelsense features have been implemented.
This will sway me buying games for my PS5.
I don't like the Dual Sense for the simple reason it isn't designed to last. I've got two and they've both been replaced due to the cheap components used.
I'm not exactly a hard core gamer or able to stress the units out due to limited dexterity and still both R2 triggers have failed and the replacements are on their way out too.
Why can't Sony give us a pro controller option?!
@Woogy I haven't had issues with my DualSense yet. I've had my PS5 since launch and put in hundreds of hours of the last year. My kids have played using it for many hours as well. Only the one DualSense that came with the system thus far. No issues yet. Was it the R2 button for both your controller issues?
Japanese Sega Saturn controller was arguably my fave...
It is a good controller for sure. Great grip, "rumble" was finally done correctly and triggers are amazing.
But I wish they had a Back Button Attachment like on Dualshock 4.
I miss my back paddles. Especially that I still have them on PC, so jarring to go back and forth.
@GADG3Tx87 Yeah, I’m extremely careful with all my gaming stuff too. Guess it’s just an unlucky thing.
Honestly, no idea if they are stronger. Just typed in PS5 replacement springs. Quite a few came up, just went with the one at the top.
They look very similar to the broken one I pulled out.
The trigger feels about the same as it does on my second DualSense. Let’s see if it lasts.
DualSense also gets my vote. It took me a while to get used to after the DS4, but it's way better imo. The Xbox Series X controller is also so comfortable, but I prefer the parallel joysticks. It's also much quieter than the Xbox controller
I had a kempston joystick for my spectrum 128k...that was awesome and by christ it hurt when i whacked my self in the head waggling it like a demented loon whilst playing daley thompsons decathalon when i was 14 years old...but alas i have to concede the dualsense is my fave..
I agree, the PS5 pad is 😚👌
I love the dual sense more than the ds4. Thought i wouldnt at first because its a tad heavier and battery dies more quick. Love the haptics, dont care much for the adaptive triggers. Just hurts your hand. But the dual sense beating the gamecube controller. Man i dont know. I would of taken the gamecube controller. It just fits perfect and has no input lag…
Yea my little brother plays on pc and his xbox series s with the new controller and its very loud. I get on him all the time about it. He is Xbox, ive always been Playstation
I love both the ps4 and ps5 controllers.i l🖤ve the light bar on my ps4 pro. And the ps5 haptic feedback.adaptive triggers is a game changer.word up son
I absolutely hate the ps5 controller.
I only play ps4 games on my ps5
the sticks click in too easily
the form isn't as good as the dualshock4
the gamecube wavebird is my favorite controller ever
Honestly this may be correct, it is legitimately an amazing controller, it is the most comfortable I have used. The Switch Pro controller is up there too for me.
Yeah I'll have to say that in my humble opinion ,the dualsense is fantastic,I've really enjoyed every playstation controller since the playstation 1,but the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback are game changers (excuse the pun),sony have certainly upped their tech on this, and love the fact you can turn the triggers off if you like.still on my first ,dualsense controller that I had with launch day ps5 (touchwood),there has been a few issues with springs for some but overall seems really good for most people,I'll probably get a galactic purple one in a month or two time but all said and done very impressed ,certainly makes gt7 more immersive ,best one I've ever used very pleased
Cheetah Bug - if you're old enough to remember THE joystick for Sensible Soccer...
Also, no Kempston or Thrustmaster (titter ye not...)
Whither art thou, DS4 - arguably Sony's finest & reliable controller (I've not tried a DualSense)?
Eh, I'd still go with xbox or switch pro as I prefer the offset sticks, but to each their own.
The first time I played Astro's Playroom, I knew I was dealing with something that wasn't simply the latest variation of the PlayStation controller. The way you feel tension as you engage the trigger buttons, the way you can experience the differences and the realism of surfaces beneath your characters' feet, the nuances in the rumble feature that allow you to authentically feel everything from the gentle patter of rain to the immense release of energy from a nearby explosion — the DualSense is on a completely different playing field.
yes dual sense is feature rich but reliability wise its got to do better stick drift trigger springs snapping
Dualsense would get my vote too, what it adds to games just can't be matched with any other controller. First time I played wrc9 I loved that not only can you feel the gravel hitting the car, you hear it through the speaker. And the trigger/throttle changing as the engine gets damaged means you feel what's happening with the car without having to look.
I have an xbox elite series 2 controller and yes it's great at what it does, and the rear paddles work well. But having played the same games on both systems, the ps5 is my multiplat of choice every time if the dualsense is used. Which to be fair, so far has been a lot.
Plus I cheated and had the 4 paddle system put on the back of my one controller. And also ordered an Aim controller with their 4 paddle system which gives you the elite benefits but with the haptics/adaptive triggers and speaker added on.
No surprise for me, its easily the best controller I've ever used with unrivaled functionality and it simply feels fantastic to me in the hand. There's nothing even close imo.
Also solid Build Quality - I've had three and they are used most days and all of them have been perfect. In the same time scale my much less used Series X controllers both developed faults (sticking right trigger, killer in FH5) and I've had to replace both with Forza special editions, which feel much better to me.
Having recently discovered the transformative effects of gyro steering on GT7, I can never play another driving game with joystick steering. As a result the Microsoft offerings are particularly dead to me and I don't image ill be able to play forza motorsport at all - unless I get stupid rich and buy a wheel for that game!
it wouldve been if the battery life wasn’t equivalent to a refurbished iphone 4 battery , and the analogs weren’t so easily prone to stick drift . i’m on my 3rd controller & only had my PS5 for 3 months .
but even if those problems were fixed , i still prefer the ps4 controller imo . the way it was designed more angular provides better grip of the controller and more control & tightness , especially when i’m really concentrating in fighters or precision aiming in shooters , but the ps5 controller lost that shape and became fat .
@Grumblevolcano you don’t like using the ps5 controller as a walky-talky ? i love it . it’s like a push-to-talk button , no inconveniences of a mic headset needed .
I legitimately play CoD online much better with the DualSense than I do with the latest Xbox (standard) controller. I also have much more precision with half-throttling on GT7 than I do in Forza Horizon 5, and GT7 being a sim would be more unforgiving I think.
@nomither6 Agreed, but the Pulse 3D is lovely and well worth checking out if you haven't. Used it since launch day and all my friends upgraded to one over the months, coming from really quite decent branded ones too (not Earth-shattering ones but very respectable all the same).
I only have 2 criticisms
1) Weak battery life
2) Lack of rear buttons
But the pros are so so good.
2 Controllers were broken in 7 months.. I got the drifty thing in around a month of super gentle use and then I bought a second one and I got the right trigger malfunctioned so I replaced the inner wire using spare items from my broken drifty controller and then the rubber of the left stick came off so I replaced it again.. finally I got an unfixable drifty right stick..
All of the gaming consoles I've bought throughout my life from Atari to Sega Mega Drive..etc to PS5 this is the least reliable controller I've ever used.. Sony must be sued if there's any justice in this world.
Totally agree, they knocked it out of the park with the Dualsense.
Agreed. It’s obviously about controllers standard with the console. No need to compare with pro elite super hyper x posh controller
@nomither6 I don't do voice chat but also gaming seems to have mostly moved on from native voice chat and you don't really get experiences like SOCOM nowadays where you can command AI allies what to do with voice chat.
I liked the adaptive trigger addition, but it's too chunky and my hands were in a lot of pain the first few months, the dual shock 4 had a better shape.
I love the Duelsense controller and I would say it is one of the best controllers that I've ever used, but that d-pad is just terrible. BUT! I just modded my duelselse with these:
NOW it's the best controller I've ever used.
It is the best controller! ...That I've used at least.
It's also certainly the worst controller I've ever used for my RSI 😬
I would agree, it’s pretty amazing. My second favorite is the GameCube controller, specifically the re-release they did for the Switch.
Seeing that Atari Joystick brings me back to the days I played Trailblazer then the springs inside it broke. Those were good days 🤣
On a serious note I definitely agree with this. As a person who suffers from Arthritis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome the Dualsense is the most comfortable Controller I have ever used.
Huge recency bias.
The GameCube is the most comfortable controller I have ever played with. Great sticks, good, instinctive button placement, and (wonderfully contoured) analogue triggers ten years before they became standard. The only thing that felt like an afterthought was the Z trigger. Everything else was perfect.
The DualSense is a great controller, and feels great in the hands. The rumble is something else, the first time I felt rain landing on the controller in Astro’s felt sensational. I have always thought that Sony controllers have the worst analogue sticks of the major controller manufacturers though, and PS5 is no different. And for that reason it doesn’t quite reach the pinnacle for me.
Agree wholeheartedly. Best controller out right now!
This is like awarding the Apple Magic Mouse "Best Mouse EVAR". Heh. Fun, but no. It's OK, I like it a lot, but no. It's not the best ever.
It’s easy for me.
1. DualSense (the only downsides to me are the weak trigger springs and the battery life is terrible, but it’s so comfortable and the haptics are amazing. I also like the adaptive triggers when programmed correctly)
2. Switch Pro Controller (I wish Nintendo would adopt analog triggers, but other than the controller is nearly perfect. And it’s battery life is out of this world.)
3. Xbox 360 (the perfect controller for FPS games thanks to the wonderful analog sticks, that have yet to be matched by any newer controller.)
4. SNES (it set the standard button layout we all use today and it introduced triggers. Plus one of the best Dpads of all time)
5. Saturn (best pad arrangement for fighting games, no contest. I always own an imitation Saturn controller for all my consoles)
6. Dualshock 4 (first Dualshock that was truly comfortable for long play sessions; marred by their terrible reliability and awful battery life; like worse than Dualsense bad)
I don’t doubt dualsense is the best but the fact the switch pro controller seemingly didn’t get a look in is a bit of a joke. Also how is the DS3 better than the DS4?
Disagree. The best was DualShock3 (equally DualShock2). Perfect grip, not so huge and fixed Start/Select buttons. On the other hand DualSense feels slippery but huge, after few hours I suffer massive pain in my palms (fortunatelly battery dies quicker, so I'm forced to rest a bit) and that HUGE NOISE of haptic rattling... ohh my god... please no more... it is like listening to broken button on walkie-talkie.
Dual Sense is amazing. The only thing I might change is having a "premium" controller where you could install different thumbsticks...and possibly the option for asymmetrical thumbsticks. Otherwise, best controller I've ever played with.
My fave wasn’t an option. Back in the day, I loved the Sega Genesis 6 button controller.
Personally my favourite is the Xbox Elite 2 controller. I particularly like its weight, it has real heft.
I'm not quite sure what all the fuss is about with regards to the haptic feedback with the PS5 controller. I've just done 160 hours in Horizon Forbidden West, and it didn't feel that much different to the recent Xbox or PlayStation controllers...
It's worrying how many people are saying there are already durability issues with the DualSense.
My personal favourites are GameCube, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast and Switch Pro.
I know PS Vita isn't a controller but I think it's by far the most comfortable handheld ever made.
@Fiendish-Beaver I've owned two Elite 2 controllers (my current, and the one I returned), and both controllers make distracting buzzing, whirring sounds every single time the motors rumble — it breaks the immersion. The rumble feedback isn't even on the same level of high-def'ness as the Dual Sense. Also, both the left & right analog sticks are way too "loose", reminiscent of the dual shocks 1, 2, and 3. And the analog triggers are way too soft and lack any resistance or stiffness. (Not to mention the triggers lack haptics.) Every time I play my Series X (FH5, for example), there feels like something is missing in force feedback during gameplay ...
Love the Sony controller for its functionality, haptic feedback is amazing but I also really like the speaker which makes games more immersive. I find the Xbox controller comfier though for longer gaming sessions. Xbox really need to up their game when it comes to innovating with the controller. Overall though my vote is the Dreamcast controller
@Dodoo I think the Switch Pro is a really poor controller. Feels unbelievabley budget to me. Only bought it because my GF plays Splatoon but I was surprised at how cheap it feels especially paid to the similarly priced competition.
It's the most comfortable controller I've ever used, and very feature rich, but I also never got stick drift on my Steam Controller, despite the gulf in build quality. My launch day controller is still going strong having been relegated to spare after 7 months use, but the midnight black is back with Sony due to left stick issues.
On the one hand its had over 1500 hours of play, but on the other hand my trusty Steam Controller has done 5 or 6 times that despite sounding like it was going to fall apart on day 1.
It’s really not.
@DrClayman perhaps it was the 3-4 hour battery life that knocked it out of the running.
Wave bird wireless still the GoAt to me
The dualsense is an incredible controller and probably the best ever, but there's a special place in my heart for the dualshock 4.
@Korgon Yeah, DS5 is bad for fighting games, which extends to the PS5 itself to, with it having the most input delay of any platform for Strive and KOF15.
Ps4 pro is the best playstaion to play fighting games in now.The DS4 is also the best playstion controller for fighting games, the DS5 for me has the Xbox problem.
Yeah I completely agree, I've used alot of controllers and it definitely stands above most. The sense features just push it above all others.
Whilst it is a very nice controller in the hand, that stupid trigger resistance nonsense gets turned off. In both GT7 and Ride 4 it ruins braking because the resistance level is so high, that the pressure builds at about 1/3rd of actual trigger travel. I'm sure I could turn it down, but it's such a gimmick that I don't see any benefit to it from racing games.
The Series X redesign ruined the pad by making the shoulder buttons sit proud of the body, so can be easily knocked. For that reason, I kept an Xbox One Series 2 pad and gave away the new one when I upgraded.
I think the 360 pad was the all-time best, especially as I used to have the most free time for gaming sessions back then. It always felt comfy. Dual Shock 4 was a good improvement over the previous ones, too.
Finally, I always liked the Mega Drive 3 button back in the day, and the SureShot joysticks for Amiga.
2.Switch Pro Controller
6.WiiU Pro Controller
7.Xbox S controller
8.Wii Controller(Not the Wiimote&Nunchuck)
I have four of the 'best' controllers of all time and 2 of them had stick drift within 6 months. Make of that what you will.
I expect controllers to get better over time, so this is no surprise. If the DualSense was "worse" than the DS4 we would've had a problem.
They couldn't even get a picture of an actual Gamecube controller 🙈. Thing is there can't be an overall best controller as many are better or were designed for different games.
Dualsense is a very nice controller and I'm a big fan of the dualshock 4 and the new Xbox controller too, Switch Pro controller would be up there and Gamecube is super comfy to hold. For 2d games, particularly fighting games I wouldn't use any of those with the Saturn pad being a standout and the SNES pad a great option too.
That Atari controller can do one, even when I was a kid I'd use any other controller that worked over that one
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