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The Sony PlayStation 5 is a phenomenal gaming console, and the DualSense wireless controller is one of the many reasons why. My colleague Brandon Carte tested the console in 2020 and remarked that the gamepad “feels like it’s years ahead of the rest.” “It’s the best controller I’ve ever held in my hands,” he added.
After getting my hands on a Sony PlayStation 5 long after its retail launch, I was just as impressed by the quality and performance of the DualSense wireless controller. Its tactile feedback makes its rivals feel dated, even obsolete in comparison.
Sony’s must-have controller is available in multiple colors that can match the console’s optional face plates. To top things off, Sony fulfilled the dreams of demanding gamers by unveiling a more feature-packed DualSense Edge controller with customizable controls.
The PlayStation 5 has been available for almost two years, so big-name makers of gaming accessories came up with notable alternatives to the DualSense wireless controller. To determine the best worth buying, we spent a few weeks sifting through products tailor-made for various gaming genres and gameplay styles.
The Sony PlayStation 5 is a phenomenal gaming console, and the DualSense wireless controller is one of the many reasons why. After getting my hands on a Sony PlayStation 5 after its 2020 launch, I was immediately impressed by the quality and performance of the DualSense wireless controller — its tactile feedback makes its rivals feel dated, even obsolete, in comparison.
Since the PlayStation 5 has been on shelves for more than 2 years, big-name makers of gaming accessories have come up with noteworthy alternatives to the DualSense. We spent a few weeks sifting through controllers tailor-made for various game genres and styles to determine which ones are worthy of leveling up your or your favorite gamer’s play.
The Best Third-Party Controllers for PlayStation
What to Consider
The most important thing you need to know before buying a third-party PlayStation 5 gaming controller is that it won’t produce the same sensory feedback as the original DualSense wireless controller. If you’re looking for a backup or an extra controller to share with a co-player, the official PlayStation 5 controller is your best option. Sony offers the accessory in multiple colors at an agreeable price.
And this year, Sony took its PlayStation 5 controllers to another level by introducing the DualSense Edge. The premium controller adds notably missing DualSense features like adjustable triggers, swappable stick modules and caps, customizable back buttons, quick-access function keys, and enhanced grip while retaining the same outstanding haptic feedback.
The $200 Edge also comes with a stylish hardshell storage case with zipper closures. It’s the PlayStation controller to get if you want the best and your budget permits.
That said, third-party gamepads can offer customizable controls and unique features that the DualSense wireless controllers lack. The differences can range from fully customizable exteriors and hardware to unique layouts for specific gaming genres, all the way to next-level smartphone integration.
Unlike the original Sony controller, third-party gamepads deliver unique layouts for specific gaming genres. The Scuf Reflex controller below is similar to the DualSense. But among the others, you can choose between an arcade-like stick like the Hori Fighting Stick Alpha, a gamepad with a button setup for fighting games from the same maker, or a full-on racing wheel for simulation racing by Logitech. It’s up to your preference — and which games you play most often — to determine what type of controller you need.
Most third-party PlayStation 5 controllers have wires. And that’s perfectly fine. In addition to maintaining a robust connection to your console, a wired controller will ensure you don’t have to worry about recharging batteries.
How We Selected
Having first-hand knowledge about the excellence of Sony’s DualSense controllers, I focused my research and testing on third-party gamepads that provide unique layouts for various game genres. I handpicked products with distinct setups for arcade, fighting, and racing gameplay. I also looked for PlayStation controllers with design and tactility features that set them apart from the original. Such products will allow you to show off your unique style when playing with friends or while streaming your adventures online.
Fighting Commander OCTA Controller for PlayStation 5
The Fighting Commander OCTA wired controller is the one to get for PlayStation fighting game aficionados. It’s a reasonably priced, reliable backup to Sony’s DualSense. Its six-button layout includes R1 and R2 buttons sitting diagonally alongside the quartet of standard controls.
The setup mentioned above makes playing PlayStation 5 titles like King of Fighters XV, among many others, considerably more engaging. The same goes for its gated analog stick with short-throw action.
The controller also packs a standard audio jack for connecting a wired headset.
Reflex Gaming Controller for PlayStation 5
The Reflex is a luxurious alternative to the DualSense. The much pricier product stands out by offering myriad visual customization options. You can create a Reflex for yourself or recipient by choosing a color for its buttons, panels, triggers, and grips, among other bits.
Customization goes beyond the looks, though, as you can tailor the product’s trigger buttons and grips. For example, opt for instant trigger buttons for shorter travel — a must for competitive gameplay where milliseconds count. The device also packs customizable paddle buttons. I found them to be handy during intense gaming sessions because I could make faster inputs without disrupting my thumbstick controls.
Creating the Scuf Reflex of your dreams is interactive and fun. Getting the PlayStation 5 controller of your dreams is worth the long wait, too.
One Mobile Gaming Controller for iPhone
This iteration of the popular BackBone One mobile gaming controller is tailor-made for PS Remote Play from an iPhone. Backbone developed it in collaboration with the PlayStation team, and it has the same white finish as the DualSense controller that comes bundled with Sony’s latest console.
The controller packs thumbsticks and buttons with exceptional tactility. Thanks to a Lightning connector, it will link to any iPhone and deliver instant input responses. Another benefit of the Lightning input: You can charge your iPhone while gaming or use the BackBone One as a wired controller by connecting it to an iPad or a Mac via a USB-C to Lightning cable.
In addition to PS Remote Play, the gadget is compatible with iOS gaming titles.
My favorite bit about the BackBone One is that it has a standard audio jack, allowing me to use a wired headset throughout my testing as I was gaming.
Wolverine V2 Pro Wireless Gaming Controller
The Razer Wolverine V2 Pro controller has buttons with amazing tactility, courtesy of the gaming giant’s mecha-tactile technology. Pressing the gamepad’s buttons and d-pad, in addition to instant responses, treated me to satisfactory clicks that make rivals feel more generic in comparison. So does Razer’s app-customizable Chroma RGB lighting.
The Wolverine V2 Pro performs in wired and wireless (via a bundled USB dongle) modes. Its layout includes six additional customizable buttons, adjustable triggers, and swappable thumbsticks. Compared to Sony’s DualSense, the V2 Pro has a different d-pad and left thumbstick placement, with the latter sitting above the d-pad instead of alongside its right counterpart.
Still, you should know that the Wolverine V2 Pro is more expensive even than Sony’s range-topping DualSense Edge controller, without offering haptic feedback or a bundled case. Depending on your gameplay preferences, the former’s absence can be a dealbreaker.
Driving Force G29 Racing Wheel for PlayStation 5
The Logitech G Driving Force G29 racing wheel is the PlayStation controller to get if you’re into racing games like Gran Turismo 7 and F1 2022, to name a few great ones. The accessory has a duo of motors for in-game force feedback, steel shifter paddles, a leather-wrapped wheel, and LED indicator lights to remind you when to change gears. It comes bundled with a high-quality, three-pedal module for a complete racing simulation setup. And you can add an optional manual gear shifter.
Logitech equipped the Driving Force G29 with easy-to-access PlayStation controls, so you can navigate your console’s interface between racing stints. The racing wheel has sturdy clamps and mounting points, so it’s easy to attach to a table, a desk, or a racing simulator.
Consider this Hori offering if you're looking for a PlayStation racing wheel on a tighter budget.
Fighting Stick Alpha for PlayStation 5
As its name suggests, the Fighting Stick Alpha will transform the PlayStation 5 into a legit alternative to the arcade gaming machines from back in the day. The officially licensed wired accessory features a high-quality joystick and eight oversized buttons, allowing it to deliver an experience that’s a nod to gaming’s glorious past. It’s pricey but worth it for nostalgic gearheads.
The Fighting Stick Alpha weighs more than 3 pounds, so it will stay securely in place during your sessions. All you have to do is find enough space to place it.
A standard audio jack and a customizable top panel round up the noteworthy features.
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