What are your favorite third-party controllers?
What are the best controllers for console and PC that you've used that aren't just official console controllers? I'm a nerd when it comes to getting a million different input methods for games, and I'm always looking for new ones to play with.
Glad we'll never go back to the hellish days before Valve and various FOSS projects fixed the nightmare that controllers on PC used to be.
I like the steam controller to some extent, however since I was never really in the niche that it would be useful (couch pc gaming), it's mostly been gathering dust. For the games where I have to use a controller for some reason, I typically use my 8Bitdo SN30 pro. I really like the sn30 pro simply because it's got great build quality, and it's super portable.
The steam controller is great not because it's any better for couch gaming, but because it's super configurable. The only downside is that it's somewhat limited because there are some games which refuse to run with the steam overlay.
But honestly I also have been mostly reaching for my SF30 pro as well. As nice as the touchpads are on the steam controller, actually using them are full of microfrustrations. If you are using them in mouse mode, expect to have to swipe more than once to look where you want. If your game doesn't support using a mouse at the same time as a controller, expect sloppy loose controls. And your thumbs will be constantly sliding off the edge of those pads. On the other hand, joysticks give haptic feedback so you don't have to mentally adjust your thumb placement.
And when it comes to quality, 8bitdo basically has everyone beat. Their controllers are surprisingly ergonomic, are sturdy as hell, and work with basically everything under the sun. They are basically the only controllers I can switch between all of my devices without having to worry about compatibility. They've even got rumble, a feature that seems to be easily forgotten in the world of controllers. They are also a way better value than buying first party console controllers, and seemingly the only ones who offer a decent d-pad.
My reasoning for the steam controller's niche being couch pc gaming is mainly that if I'm at my desk, most of the time I'm going to want to use my mouse and keyboard, and for games designed for controller, I usually want to use a more traditional controller.
Situations where I don't have access to mouse and keyboard, but I still want to play pc games (like on a couch), is where the configurability of the SC shines, as it's able to play games designed for KBM.
There are a number of games that are better with the steam controller than with a traditional controller, however, for example I found that souls-like camera controls was a bit better on a steam controller than a traditional controller.
Valve's Steam controller is probably(?) my favorite controller ever, and I really wish it ended up being the beginning of a new era of controller designs, because when you set it up correctly and reset your habits, there is NOTHING like it. It really feels like the future. It's understandable why it didn't take off like that...it's hard to get people to go out of their way to put in the effort when the most popular controllers are already so nice. But a Steam controller 2 with a fancier build, better analog stick with an indent, and other general quality improvements would've been incredible.
I've got a few 8bitdo controllers and just picked up their Wireless USB adapter just arrived. I'm a big fan! My previous bluetooth adapter was useless for controllers (constant drops), so this replaces that and lets me do things like use a PS4 controller on my Switch, which is much appreciated.
I'm currently looking at their SN30 Pro+ and thinking it might be my next controller, but I'm worried the dpad might be as flaky as the SF30 Pro was.
What do you like so much about the Steam Controller?
I've never really looked at it, but I remember seeing when it was first announced and not being wildly impressed.
I would absolutely be a Steam controller devotee -- if only Valve had put a second analog stick on there! I consider that the hardware's biggest shortcoming, as it makes some genres of games outright unplayable (e.g. twin-stick shooters). It's a shame, because everything else about the controller and its support is amazing.
8bitdo, hands down. The only issue I had was when I was grinding Mario Kart 8 tracks, I had the rubber start dying on the sticks, but a little spiky aftermarket cover fixed that. they hold up well, their inputs feel nice, and they work on everything, phones, pcs (Windows, Linux, Mac), and have a familiar form factor. They also make some in different shapes, like a RetroBit collab that was an N64, or this little Genesis/Saturn controller I got.
Like others in this thread, I can also vouch for 8bitdo. Specifically, the SN30 Pro Plus. I also have two wireless SN30s, which, while I do enjoy using them, I don't think they are as identical to official SNES controllers as nearly every review I read before purchasing them made them out to be. The official SNES controllers for the SNES mini are more spot on, in my opinion. This is probably nitpick and you likely wouldn't notice if you don't remember how SNES controller feel.
Aside from third party controllers, I use my Dualshock 4 for virtually everything even though I've never owned a PS4. It's such a great controller if you don't have large hands. I feel it's much better for 2D games than any Xbox controllers.
This is probably not in the spirit of your question, but my answer is: The Logitech Driving Force Pro (steering wheel). It wasn't the very best wheel you could get at the time, but it did the job, and was reasonably priced. The force feedback and +/- shifter were nice.
Otherwise, I only use official Playstation controllers [with Playstation]. Too afraid of running into problems with non name brand hardware.
The Logitech F710 was my go-to for years. Very console-controller-like, but that's hardly a bad thing; that layout became the standard for good reason.
I find myself wanting one not because I think I have any reason to use it, but because I remember it being by far the most recommended pad for years and I'm curious what I would've thought if I ended up getting one a long time ago.
I still have an F710 (and its wired sibling the F310) around as options for local multiplayer games, though my Steam Controller gets way more use these days.
I quite like the feel of both of them (the F710 is a little heftier with its rumble motors, and I honestly prefer their face buttons to the ones on the Steam Controller), and the stick layout is pretty comfortable. I think they're both about 6 or 7 years old and they've both held up great.
The downside, and the reason I wouldn't recommend the F710 now, is that Logitechs drivers for it were a bit flaky back then, and seem to be more or less unsupported now. The only way I could get it to work (on Windows) is by uninstalling all the Logitech software and manually going into the driver settings to force Windows to use the XBox gamepad drivers for it instead. Works perfectly on Linux though, for what it's worth.
I'll also add my love to the 8BitDo train. I have an SN30 Pro+ and it's great.
But my true love lies with The (Infamous) Duke. Most hated it. I adore it. It's technically first-party, but I'm counting it because it has since turned third-party.
I have large hands. Like, excessively large hands. Like, I-could-easily-hit-a-9th-on-the-piano-when-I-took-lessons-in-high-school hands. I would say can-easily-palm-a-basketball hands, but I don't really go near sports ever.
So, naturally, the bigger the controller, the better for me -- simply out of pure ergonomics. The Duke is the largest controller I can find, and honestly, I want one triple the size of it. My ideal game controller, if such a thing existed in the real world, would be roughly the size of a steering wheel or a large dinner plate. I promise you that this is not an exaggeration.
Hyperkin re-released a PC-compatible version of The Duke recently. Lest you doubt my love is genuine, know that my husband bought one for me as a birthday gift. He said that the moment it was announced was the moment he knew he was getting it for me because he knows how much I've talked about it over the years.
Some of it is size, but some of it is also the layout and feel. Microsoft flat out stole the Dreamcast controller and blew it up in size, which I was 100% okay with because, prior to The Duke, the Dreamcast controller was my favorite one of all time. I liked the way it fit in my hands, and the analog triggers, with lots of play in them, were so satisfying. It was the definitive way to play Crazy Taxi at home. Racing games feel great with big, long-travel triggers, and my Duke has now seen me through 100+ hours of Trackmania. I consider it the ideal way to play.
The Duke re-release has been my daily driver for a while now. I'm so used to it now that, when I recently picked up a regular Xbox 360 controller for the first time in months, it felt like I was playing with a tiny, pretend version of a peripheral -- like when you order something online and after it arrives you realize you misjudged the size of the item entirely. They can't all be this small, can they?
Don't even get me started on the Switch joycons. Those are microcontrollers, which is a tech term that I've heard before and don't really know what it means, but I have to assume it's referring to Nintendo's default input devices based on how well it summarizes their tortorously teeny-tiny size. How could it not?
The build quality of Hyperkin's new Duke isn't great, and it's a pain to get working on Linux (which is where I use my much smaller but still impressive 8BitDo controller, for convenience's sake). Nevertheless, it's absolutely huge and wonderful in my giant-sized grip. I'm considering buying up some extra stock right now, while they're still available, so that when the one I have invariably kicks the bucket I'll have fallbacks ready and waiting.
Either that, or Hyperkin needs to announce a Dukier Duke (pun acknowledged) that's triple the size. I promise I would spend whatever necessary to get
Everything by 8BitDo is fantastic, especially the SN30 Pro, like others in this thread have mentioned. For games where I use the stick frequently, however, I love using the Switch Pro controller (not exactly a 3rd party controller, but unusual for PC).
I have heard good things about the Hori Split Pad for Switch and the Razer Kishi for Mobile, but what I actually use at home is the Daqi M1 Retractable Controller because it's $30, bluetooth compatible, and can accommodate a phone vertically if your game is compatible with it, but mostly because it was available when I wanted a controller for my phone, and fits my needs. And the joysticks click if that's a must have for your game.