While the majority of people reading this article will be looking for the best Xbox or PS4 controller to use when playing Overwatch, PC gamers will still find much of interest to read in this guide. The 360 controller fast became a staple of the PC gaming experience for suitable games, after all, and there are many options to be considered beyond this now ubiquitous pad.
Although the PS4 Dual Shock controller is considered by many to be an equal classic, it's size and form factor isn't necessarily ideal for every gamer, and so you may well be looking for something a little more comfortable to hold in your hands during longer gaming sessions. Ditto, Xbox One owners may not be quite as enamoured with their gamepad as the majority of owners, and find themselves in the market for something more suitable.
Perhaps surprisingly when you consider all of the above, it's actually PC gamers who get the best deal here, with both official and third-party controllers from both camps available for those who prefer to game on this platform. You can never have too much choice, after all, and as a PC gamer you should not just assume that your 360 controller is the be all and end all of gamepads.
On this page, we will provide you with an overview of the best controllers that are currently available for the PS4, the Xbox and - noted where applicable - the PC. If you like the look of any of these controllers and you decide to make a purchase using the links, Metabomb will receive a small amount of revenue through Amazon's affiliate programme - thanks for helping us keep the lights on, and bringing you a steady stream of the best Overwatch content that we can!
High End for PS4 Controller: Nacon Revolution Pro
The Nacon Revolution Pro is one of the few new high-end controllers for the PS4 that recently landed on store shelves. All buttons on the device can be programmed and adjusted (via a PC), with endless options for tweaking vibration settings (stronger, weaker or off altogether).
It's a controller of exceptional build quality, and fans of the Xbox pad will certainly enjoy bringing the same feel of the dual analog triggers to the PS4. The analogue sticks themselves are also extremely precise, and the controller includes everything you'd expect from the official controller: touchpad, headphone jack, 8-way control and PS/ Share / Options buttons.
There are a few minor flaws that you should be aware of, however. There's no option to switch the PS4 on and off via the pad, and no wireless option either (apparently to reduce costs and lag). You do at least get three metres of cable to play with though. While you'll need a PC to configure the controller's many options, it's not officially supported for PC gameplay, which seems like a missed opportunity.
- Nacon Revolution Pro (approx £85)
Not currently available
High End for PS4 and PC: Razer Raiju
The Razer Raiju is the second of our high-end pads for the PlayStation 4 and is also avaialble for PC gamers. Like its competitor (the Nacon Revolution Pro) this controller was designed specifically with eSports pros in mind. For this reason, you can expect high-quality materials to feature throughout the unit, ensuring both high performance and a long life. In terms of weight, design and ergonomics, the Razer Raiju has been tested and refined with a focus on very long gaming sessions indeed.
The layout is not at all dissimilar to the official PlayStation 4 controller, in fact: two high-precision sticks, the D-Pad, the four mechanical action buttons, two shoulder and trigger buttons and the Share, Options and PS buttons. There are, however, four fully programmable multifunction buttons included, as well as two detachable trigger buttons on the bottom. There's also a “Quick Control Panel” with four buttons on the lower edge of the controller, which lets you make immediate adjustements to the volume, microphone, profile and other functions.
Again, there's sadly no wireless option for the Raiju, but it seems that's the price you pay for all those extra bells and whistles. There is at least another three metre cord to play with, which should prove ample for even the most generous living room setups. Note that the cord is at least detachable for travel and storage convenience.
- Razer Raiju (approx £180)
Not currently available
High End for Xbox One and PC: Xbox Elite Wireless Controller
There's little doubt that the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller has been, and remains, the best gamepad you can have as a PC gamer - assuming you are not completely averse to the style and feel of it of course! While there are plenty of third-party versions of the old 360 controller on the market, there are not so many options for this relatively new Elite device, so it's hard to find an unofficial alternative right now.
While there's little competition on price, the qualities of the Elite Controller really speak for themselves. It's got everything you could want: interchangeable components, wireless and wired operation, as well as high quality build materials and electronics that ensure a long and productive life for the gamepad.
The sticks, control knobs and paddles are made of stainless steel, and the new low-friction rings on the sticks experience less wear. The rubberised Diamond Grip surface provides more comfortable haptics and more stability - and it's a lot more comfortable to use over long periods too. The soft-touch finish on the upper side is comfortable and non-slip.
There are also interchangeable paddles on the back, lockable triggers, and an app for adjusting all kinds of things, from trigger strength values, to stick sensitivity, vibration strength and so on. You can create macros and profiles for different setups as well, helping you create a different controller for just about any game or genre - very cool stuff.
- Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller (approx £114)
- Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller (approx $133)
High quality controller for PS4 and PC: DualShock 4
The Sony DualShock can boast nearly 20 years of refined development at this point, and with very few changes to its fundamental shape. The two handles have become significantly slimmer and slightly longer though, providing greater comfort for larger hands. On the left side, the D-pad is still on top, while the analogue stick is actually parallel to its counterpart on the right-hand side - a notable difference from the Xbox pad.
In addition, there are twelve digital buttons, two analogue triggers and shoulder switches, and six axes for motion detection, inclination and acceleration. The touch panel - which acts as a mouse and detects directional movements as well as two-point gestures - makes the movement of different players distinguishable for the PS4 camera. Another cool feature is the built-in mono speaker, which is used for some atmospheric sound in supported games.
A major advantage of the DS4 is that it can be used with or without a cable. The 1000 mA battery lasts for around 8-10 hours of gaming (depending on the demands placed on the controller, of course), before it needs to be recharged via micro-USB.
Originally, the production quality of the DualShock 4 was a little controversial. Stories of snapping sticks, dissolving anti-slip coating and creaking plastic were rife, and there were other niggles besides. These problems seem to be well behind the controller now, however, and you should not let this be a concern when it comes to selecting your weapon of choice.
- Sony PlayStation DualShock 4 (approx £40)
- Sony PlayStation DualShock 4 (approx $48)
Xbox One and PC: Xbox One Wireless Controller
If you're looking for a super-solid gamepad, and really aren't fussed about things like the touchpad or LED lighting of the PS4 controller, then the Xbox One pad can't be missed. It's predecessor was - as we've already mentioned - incredibly popular, and won over even the most devoted fan of the keyboard and mouse (for the right games, of course).
It's no surprise then that little has changed for the 360 gamepad's successor, with merely a few refinements to note. Most noticeable is the battery compartment, which has now been completed integrated into the housing. There's better grip too, and the shoulder buttons are more ergonomically pleasing as well. The power button's been moved to the top of the unit as well, but otherwise things remain more or less the same. Basically it's as good as the last one, and just a little bit better in many regards too.
More significant changes can be found in the materials used to create the pad. The slightly lighter and smaller analogue sticks have better grip, thanks to the rough texturing around the edges, and they're more accurate and precise too. The D-pad is arguably better to use now as well, and force feedback is much stronger given the placement towards the fingertips.
It's a solidly built gamepad and - just like the 360 pad - can barely be scratched or cracked regardless of how much punishment you send its way. While it's not a very configurable device, it's a simple, high quality unit that you can plug in and get going with. At a price tag of around £45 / $45, it's hard to beat really.
- Xbox Wireless Controller (approx £43)
- Xbox Wireless Controller (approx $45)
Medium class for PC: Xbox 360 Controller (wired / wireless)
While technically the older option, the Xbox 360 controller is still a great choice for PC gamers and allows for a similar experience to the Xbox One pad at a cheaper price. It's become such a stalwart of PC gaming over the last decade that both production and implementation has been tweaked to perfection at this point.
Not only does it have impressively precise sticks and action buttons, it's a durable piece of kit too which is great if you're having to share the hardward with younger gamers. You've got three meters of cabling to play with on the wired option, or you can plump for the wireless version if you've a little more money to splash around.
While the 2 x AA battery compartment might seem a little strikingly chunky at first, you'll soon accommodate to its presence. Those batteries last for an impressively long amount of time too, so you won't need to go scrabbling around for replacement batteries very often.
- Xbox 360 Wireless Controller (approx £28)
- Xbox 360 Wireless Controller (approx $31)
Medium class for PS4 and PC: Hori Controller FPS Plus
The Hori controller is, essentially, a cheaper version of the standard PS4 controller. With that reduced price comes a few limitations, however. It lacks a headphone jack, rumble, six-axis motion controller and that dinky loudspeaker. If you can live without those things though, then it's a pretty solid pad to play with. You can also swap a few of the controls around as well, and its form factor is similar to the 360 / One controller if you prefer the shape and feel of that device.
There's a button on the back which changes the sensitivity of the stick in three incremental steps, which is handy for shooters. There's also a turbo button for the shoulder and front buttons, which you may find useful for certain games. Again, this is a wired controller with a three metre cable, so if wireless is a showstopping feature for you then you'll have to look elsewhere.
All things considered, the Hori is best suited for fans of shooters, although it's still a very serviceable controller for general gameplay as well.
- Hori Pad 4 FPS Plus (approx £40)
- Hori Pad 4 FPS Plus (approx $50)
Beginner class for PC: Speedlink Torid
Despite a lot of competition in recent years, the Speedlink Torid is still a fantastic entry-level PC controller. This cable-free wirepad will feel very familiar to fans of the 360 / One controller, and the latest version of the hardware features a D-pad that feels much more precise than before.
While it lacks the grip of earlier models, it's still very stable and comfortable to hold and it's got a surprisingly low weight to it. You'll find more resistance in the triggers now than in previous controllers in the product line, but the buttons are crisp and the vibration feedback is strong. You'll also get around 8-10 hours of gameplay for a 2-3 hour charge time - not bad at all!
It's easy to get going with on the PC as well. Simply plug in the USB receiver, install the driver from the CD that comes in the box, and away you go. This controller probably won't change the world, but it will let you compete at a very welcome price point.
- Speedlink Torid (approx £25)
- Speedlink Torid (approx $32)
Beginner class for PC: Thrustmaster GPX LightBack
If you're looking for a cheap and solid gamepad without any technical frills, then the Thrustmaster GPX should be on your radar. The manufacturer is actually better known for steering wheel and joystick devices, but they've done a pretty good job of turning out this low-cost controller too. It's certainly a solid replacement option for the near-identical official Xbox 360 pad.
The GPX is defined by the two solid grips and the very precise analogue sticks, as well as very solid shoulder and general action buttons. It's an interesting choice for racing games in particular, as the force feedback is linked to the background stick lightning - the faster you're going, the brighter the light will be! There are some LEDs at the upper end of the controller too, which can display - for example - acceleration and braking force.
There are negatives. The smooth plastic of the non-slip grips can actually be quite slippery when you've been playing for a long session and your hands are getting a little greasy. The D-Pad isn't great either and is a little spongy. There's no official support for tweaking the settings via PC, and instead you'll have to turn to third-party software.
- Thrustmaster GPX LightBack (approx £34)
- Thrustmaster GPX LightBack (approx $40)