Gaming was already popular when the pandemic hit in early 2020; with a large number of people stuck at home, it has become close to a national obsession. So once you have your console or computer, and your game (or games), what more do you need?
We asked the staff of The Verge, many of whom are avid gamers, to talk about their favorite gaming gear. Below, we describe game controllers, mice, headsets, and other useful peripherals that can take your gaming experience up that extra notch (or even several notches).
Have a great time!
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
If you have a non-Lite Nintendo Switch, the Pro Controller is a necessary accessory, in my opinion. Although the regular Switch comes with two Joy-Con controllers, they’re small and not particularly ergonomic.
The Pro Controller, on the other hand, feels great to hold and has held up for me over hours of Fortnite, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and many other games. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth every penny. — Jay Peters, news writer
Logitech G502 Hero gaming mouse
What can I say about the Logitech G502 line that has not already been said? My colleague, Cameron Faulkner, thinks it’s the best and most affordable wired take on the best gaming mouse you can buy right now — and rightfully so.
I play a ton of first-person shooters on my gaming PC, so when I was in the market for a new gaming mouse (I previously used Corsair’s M65 RGB Elite), I wanted something that had a good amount of programmable buttons — including one on the mouse’s left-hand side — as easy shortcuts for when I needed to aim my weapons quickly. Now, each macro is assigned to a conveniently placed button.
I have used a good number of gaming mice before switching to the G502 Hero, and I honestly do not think any other gaming mouse will replace it. I might buy the wireless version at some point to minimize cable management, but at $50, the G502 Hero is a great gaming mouse for people who prefer wired gaming mice or who don’t have a ton of money to splurge on its wireless counterpart. — Taylor Lyles, writer
Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver for Windows
Fifteen years ago, Microsoft released the best dongle ever made, one that I still use every single week. It’s an unconscionably long, six-foot USB cable with a little pod on the end that, uh, always reminds me of a Centauri tentacle. But this dongle is worth a little cringe: it lets me reliably connect four Xbox 360 wireless controllers to a Windows PC to play a wide array of games from across the room, and thanks to continued plug-and-play Windows functionality and robust Steam support, every game designed for controllers works perfectly with it.
It’s an amazingly stable, inexpensive way to get four-player couch games (like Duck Game, SpeedRunners, TowerFall, Overcooked!, Spelunky, Lance A Lot, etc.) up and running quickly, particularly since Xbox 360 wireless controllers are cheap and easy to obtain. I wish I could say the same for the adapter itself; some of the third-party knockoffs have compatibility issues, and tracking down the original might mean a visit to eBay. That’s how I bought one for a buddy this past holiday.
If you do find an official one that doesn’t light up, don’t throw it out! If you’re handy with a soldering iron, it’s pretty easy to replace (or even short) the burnt-out fuse. — Sean Hollister, senior news editor
A useful Microsoft dongle, it lets you reliably connect several Xbox 360 wireless controllers to a Windows PC to play a wide array of games. Not generally available at major retailers, you can find the genuine article for around $60 on eBay.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless gaming headset
If you’re willing to pay a premium, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better wireless gaming headset than the Arctis Pro Wireless. In 2018, I pitted it against every single one of its competitors and it got top marks for sound quality, mic quality, wireless range, battery life, and an array of unusually handy features.
If I’m gaming with buddies and want a snack, I don’t need to stop chatting — I just walk several rooms away to the kitchen and the audio never cuts out. When a too-loud game drowns out my friends, I tap the dial beneath the ear cup to rebalance the audio between “game” and “chat” — it gives you two different audio devices in Windows. When the battery runs out, I can just pop a spare battery pack out of the base station and swap it in under 15 seconds. I make a lot of calls with the Arctis Pro Wireless, too, thanks to its built-in Bluetooth.
Just know it’s a little pinch-y on big heads, despite having the fabric band suspension design that makes a lot of SteelSeries’ other headsets comfortable. And be careful not to try to bend it wider using the ear cups; quite a few buyers have found the joints can snap if you apply too much force. — Sean Hollister
If you’re willing to pay a premium, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better wireless gaming headset than the Arctis Pro Wireless. It gets top marks for sound quality, mic quality, wireless range, battery life, and an array of unusually handy features.
Oculus Quest 2 Elite Strap
I love my Oculus Quest 2, but I’m not exaggerating when I say I find it almost unusable out of the box. The flimsy stock strap barely fits my head and makes the headset feel incredibly front-heavy, while the foam face pad gets hot and uncomfortable quickly.
Fortunately, there are good solutions to both problems. Oculus sells an official Elite Strap for the Quest 2 for $49, which suggests the company itself knows the stock option isn’t great, and indeed it’s a huge improvement. It’s much sturdier, with a plastic back plate that better distributes weight and tightens around your head with an easily adjustable dial. There were reported issues with some early units cracking, but I haven’t had a problem with mine, and Oculus has addressed the issue with replacements and extended warranties, so I definitely recommend it. — Sam Byford, Asia editor
VR Cover silicone cover for Oculus Quest 2
The next way to upgrade your Quest 2 experience is with a simple piece of rubber. Various companies sell alternative face pad covers, and the one I’ve been using is the Quest 2 silicone option from VR Cover. I used swappable cloth versions from VR Cover with the original Quest, which was still an improvement over the stock foam, but I like the hypoallergenic silicone even better. It attaches to the Quest 2 easily and is much more comfortable to have pressed against your face for hours than clammy foam; plus, you can rinse it down easily after a hardcore Beat Saber session. I don’t know why something like this doesn’t come in the box, but it’s absolutely worth the $14. — Sam Byford
Mayflash W010 DolphinBar for Wii
This is a great accessory for anyone who wants to play emulated Wii games on their PC. It’s like the one that the Nintendo Wii console used to have, but offers Bluetooth to connect your Wii Remotes as well. I bought one of these for my own PC so I could use it to emulate Wii games — and hopefully get around to completing Metroid Prime 3 one of these days.
Just remember that you’ll also need to grab a Wii Remote separately if you don’t already have one. — Jon Porter, reporter
You’ve heard all the hype about the DualSense’s vibration motors and adaptive triggers. And to be sure, those things are awesome for the games that use them, but they aren’t what make the DualSense my favorite controller of those I’ve ever used. It’s that it has everything a modern controller needs.
The DualShock 4 had a headphone jack, but also the terrible micro-USB. The Switch Pro Controller has USB-C, but it’s a bit small for my tastes and doesn’t have a headphone jack. The DualSense has both USB-C and a headphone jack, and that’s just such a quality-of-life improvement. When I need to charge it, I grab my laptop charger, and when I want to keep the noise to myself, I grab my headphones. There’s no friction between me and playing whatever game I want to play. — Mitchell Clark, news writer
Creative BT-W3 Bluetooth receiver
It can be a real hassle to find the right gaming headset — one that’s both comfortable and compatible with most (or ideally, all) of your consoles. Few wireless solutions can do it all, but I really love using Creative’s BT-W3 USB-C Bluetooth receiver. It can pair to Bluetooth headphones you already own, making it a crafty and budget-minded purchase at around $40. It works seamlessly with PS5 and Nintendo Switch, and its USB-C-to-A adapter allows it to work perfectly on PC. Better yet, this dongle can toggle between low-latency and high-quality codecs with a push of a button, and it ships with a 3.5mm microphone that you can plug into your controller to chat with friends. — Cameron Faulkner, writer
I like to have the best audio possible, especially playing multiplayer games like CS:GO, Valorant, or Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Because gaming headset mics will only do so much, I wanted a separate mic for audio output. Like I’ve mentioned before, that’s why I chose the QuadCast.
At $140, it gives me great clarity when speaking, easy-to-use controls, and a shock mount adapter for boom arms. I also enjoy that the mute button is on top of the microphone. It might be unconventional, yet it’s conveniently placed if you’re using a boom arm, and it makes it easy to mute myself. It also comes with a three-meter cable; I find it annoying that some companies like Blue give you a too-short cable with their pricey USB mics. — Taylor Lyles
Echogear Full Motion TV wall mount
Here’s a slightly unconventional entry that has significantly improved my quality of life, so I want to share it with everyone here: a full-motion TV mount. Recently, I moved to a new, much smaller apartment. I had to find ways to maximize my space and, all joking aside, fit my rather large PS5 someplace. This is where the Echogear mount comes into play.
The model that I got is incredibly well built and strong enough to hold TVs up to 125lbs or 86 inches diagonally. With my 55-inch LG CX, it’s smooth to operate, and I can move it around as needed to find the perfect angle — which I do, because another downside of my new place is that the windows are right across from the TV. I never thought I’d get so much use out of a TV wall mount. Plus, TVs look super nice mounted on the wall and it’s a fun little home improvement project. Just don’t try to do it all by yourself. — Vjeran Pavic, senior video director
Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick
I’m not a huge fan of flight simulators and couldn’t justify spending hundreds of dollars on a full HOTAS kit. But when I heard Star Wars: Squadrons was coming out on PC, I couldn’t limit myself to playing on a keyboard or gamepad. I love Star Wars and wanted to ensure that I could recreate the experience of flying an X-Wing.
I found the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick on sale, and it’s truly one of the best gaming peripheral purchases I’ve made. It features 12 programmable buttons, an eight-way hat switch, and a nice hand grip for people who use their right hand while playing games. If you’re like me and only need it for a few titles, you can’t go wrong with this flight stick. — Taylor Lyles