Scuf Gaming, one of the leading makers of custom game controllers for competitive play, has a new device coming out next month that promises to even further enhance the ability of gamepad users. The device is called the Scuf Vantage, and it’s a custom PS4 controller with back paddles, two additional side buttons, and an instant remapping feature that lets you customize every one of those additional input mechanisms on the fly.
It sounds like an obvious upgrade for serious competitive players and aspiring streamers, but the question remains: do you really need a controller that costs as much as $200 to improve your game? Last week at E3 in Los Angeles, I got my hands on a finalized version of the Vantage. I demoed it on the one game most professional streamers and competitive gaming fans are sinking their teeth into these days: Epic Games’ Fortnite.
After playing a few games on the show floor and getting more acclimated to the back paddles and new side-located “sax” buttons, as they’re called, I can say that the Vantage controller is a seriously capable upgrade for players who prefer a gamepad over a traditional MKB setup or XIM adapter. I found the instant remapping to be completely seamless and easy to pull off mid-game, while the Vantage’s new asymmetrical thumbstick layout and meatier grips helps it achieve the comfort levels of an Xbox One Elite. Until we get some more time with a review model later this summer, it’s too early to call it a must-buy, but the Vantage felt great to use.
Of course, adding back paddles to your gaming toolkit — regardless of what device you’re using — is necessarily going to improve your game no matter what. For any shooter, being able to remap buttons like jump and reload to the paddles on the back of the controller free up your thumbs, so they can remain on the thumbsticks. That gives you a competitive edge in pretty much any situation. Even if it’s only saving you fractions of a second, that extra time and flexibility could swing the scales in an intense showdown with another human opponent.
For a game like Fortnite, however, having those extra buttons is the difference between limiting yourself as a console player and performing at or at least near the full potential of a mouse-and-keyboard player on PC. Fortnite, because it has so many different buttons involved that control your ability to build structures out of thin air, can take full advantage of the Vantage’s four back paddles and the new sax buttons on the sides.
The Vantage gives PS4 ‘Fortnite’ players the flexibility of PC ones
For instance, I remapped jump to one of the sax buttons and build mode activation to the other. I then mapped each of my four building functions on each of the four back paddles. Doing so meant I could jump, enter build mode, and construct structures — all without removing my hands from the thumbsticks that controlled my character movement and camera.
Granted, other custom pro gaming controllers, including cheaper models from Scuf, let you pull all of this off. But it’s really the Vantage’s plentiful buttons on both the side and back of the device as well as its instant remapping function that make it more useful for a game like Fortnite. Remapping is as simple as flipping a switch on the bottom of the controller and holding down the button you’d like to copy and the button you’d like the function to be mapped to.
It takes a few seconds, and it works without having to tinker with in-game software or an additional accessory. In the past, instant remapping with other Scuf controllers has required placing a small circular EMR, or electromagnetic remapping, device on the back of the controller and manually remapping from there, which inherently involves a break in whatever your doing in the game. With the Vantage, that EMR system is built in, so it’s easier to access.
The Vantage isn’t cheap: it starts at $170 for the wired model, while the wireless model costs $200. After that, it’s an additional $30 to do any type of color customization, though the Vantage is the very first Scuf controller with a fully removable face plate. So you can buy additional customization options for it and easily swap them whenever you like. That said, the ease with which the controller handles remapping and its added comfort and side buttons certainly makes it an attractive option for PS4 fans. The device is slated to ship this August, so check back here on The Verge for a more robust comparison and roundup of custom PS4 controllers on the market.