Since Microsoft launched the Xbox One Elite Controller in 2015, PlayStation 4 owners have waited for something comparable. Many of those fans have pinned their hopes on Scuf Gaming’s new Vantage. This is a custom version of the PS4’s DualShock 4 that has many of the features of the Elite. It comes in a wireless model for $200 or a wired version for $170. It’s out now, but is it really the PS4’s Elite controller?
No. It’s not.
The Elite is an expensive product at $150, but it earns that price with a premium feel and precision. By comparison, the Vantage feels cheaper but costs more. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get one. It’s probably still one of the best PS4 controllers you can find, but it has some quirks that may make you want to wait.
What you’ll like
Scuf has released premium PlayStation 4 controllers before. But it has primarily stuck to the DualShock 4 mold up to this point. With the Vantage, it is using its own design. This gamepad is slightly bigger and bulkier than a DualShock 4 — and in a good way. Where I have to claw my fingers around a standard DS4’s nubs, the Vantage fits into my hands more naturally.
And one area where the Vantage is better than the Elite is its rear paddles. On both gamepads, your fingers should just rest on both of them. But unlike the Elite, you won’t accidentally activate them on the Vantage. That enables my fingers to relax more than they do on an Elite.
D-pad, paddles, and face buttons feel great
Overall, the Vantage’s buttons are great to use. The D-pad is springy and responsive. It makes me want to play more 2D games on Sony’s console. The face buttons have a similar quality. They even have a noticeable click when you press them down. And once again, the paddles are really nice. They are especially clicky and easy to activate — although, again, you won’t find yourself doing so accidentally.
What you won’t like
It feels cheap for a premium controller
It’s hard to sense the $200 when you’re holding a Vantage. Scuf used mostly plastic materials in the construction of this device along with some rubber grips. And that makes it feel insubstantial and hollow in your hands. That may appeal to esports players who need to hold a controller for more than eight hours a day. It is relatively lightweight. But to me, that’s disappointing when you’re expecting to get a premium product.
The switches on the controller are also flimsy. They don’t lock into place, and it’s hard to tell if you’ve actually move from one option to the other. And if I leave the controller in wireless mode, it’ll send random signals to my PlayStation 4 that turns it on. So when I’m done with it, I have to turn it to wired mode.
I also had some issues with the analog sticks. They seemed to have a large deadzone where you couldn’t make fine adjustments in shooters and similar games. I was able to mostly fix this through a “calibration” process in which you press the stick down with a lot of force and then spin it in a circle. That worked, but I think that’s a weird thing for a $200 controller to need.
The Scuf Vantage is rough around the edges. And that makes it tough to recommend at $200. The good news is that most of the problems are things that Scuf can address without having to re-engineer the entire product. If it can make sure future analog sticks just work out of the box and fix the bugs and flimsy switches, I’d suggest it to anyone who wants the absolute best PlayStation 4 controller.
But even in that case, this is not the same thing as the Elite Controller for Xbox One. That device looks great, feels great, and plays great, and I don’t think the Vantage matches it in any of those categories.
The Scuf Gaming Vantage is available now for $200. Scuf provided a sample unit for the purpose of this review.