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How to choose a gaming controller?

For better control

Everyone is into gaming these days and by everyone, I mean it. Toddlers are mesmerised by fancy glowing thingies on the screens of their parents’ phones and are whacking their way to the top of the leaderboards while grandparents are beating their grandkids in Candy Crush and Star Legends. Then there is me and countless others who make up the bulk of the gamer community that lie between these two extremes. Of late, most of the guys in the Test Centre have been playing way too many mobile games. Even the freshly joined intern plays a lot of mobile games in her spare time.

Games like PUBG Mobile are pushing mobile gaming popularity to a whole new level

What I’ve noticed is that more and more games with complicated game mechanics are making their way onto your smartphones. Take PUBG or Fortnite for example, even folks who’ve rarely downloaded video games on their smartphones can be seen shouting at the top of their lungs in multiplayer lobbies. Some of these titles are teetering at the edge of being playable on the mobile screen. Especially, titles such as Arena of Valor, which is a MOBA, can require some rigorous finger gymnastics during heated moments. Like some of the guys who’ve started playing Arena of Valor, I too have jumped onto the MOBA bandwagon with Mobile Legends 5v5: Bang Bang. I’ve experienced it first hand, the feeling of helplessness that you experience when you simply can’t move your fingers quick enough to counter the enemy team’s nuker. This is where I decided, I’d have to buy a controller for my smartphone.

The Xbox One Controller

Before I got a new controller, I decided to try some of the ones we already have in the Test Centre. First, we tried the Xbox One controller. Now Microsoft has truly done its research before building this piece of machinery. For those who game on the PC and need a controller for those console ports such as Dark Souls, the Xbox One or even the XBox 360 controller is the way to go. We honestly prefer the 360 controller over the Xbox One controller because it fits the hand better. As long as you avoid holding it too tight, you won’t get any numbness in your index or ring fingers. Then there’s the Dual Shock 4 controller for the PS4. It’s way smaller and gives a closer grip than the either of the Xbox controllers, however, getting it to work in Windows isn’t easy. There’s always DS4Windows that lets you use the DS4 controller with Windows and remap the keys in whichever manner you want. Then there are the game-specific controllers such as steering wheels and joysticks for flight simulators but all of these game-specific controllers are of no use for mobile games. That’s where a different breed of controllers come into play.

Dual Shock 4

Controllers for mobile games need to have a clamp, a good set of buttons that cater to all the popular games on the market and an accompanying app that can manage your controller profiles. MOGA is well-known for making really good controllers and we’ve tried out some of their older units. Unfortunately, given the fragmentation of Android across the entire gamut of smartphones, compatibility has been an issue. All of that changed for the better with Android 4.0 which brought native support for controllers. So as I set about hunting for a nice controller, I came across a couple of really good ones and I would hate to keep those to myself.

MOGA Hero Power

First up is the Moga Hero Power which pretty much has the same design characteristics that most MOGA controllers have – two analog sticks, one D-pad, four buttons and two triggers. The button placement is similar to that of the Xbox controllers so the familiarity makes it very easy to get used to. Then there is the Pyrus Telescopic controller which expands sideways and holds the smartphone in the centre. It too has the same set of control options as the MOGA Hero Power but the configuration has both analog sticks at the top so it’s more symmetric.

If these brands seem alien to you then you can always check out controllers such as the Stratus XL by Steelseries or the Razer Serval which are well-known PC peripheral manufacturers. Just know that the Stratus XL mimics the Dual Shock 4 control configuration while the Serval mimics the Xbox One control configuration.

Gamesir G5

The controllers mentioned above are all good but none of them has been exceptional the way the Steam controller turned out to be. For mobile controllers, I believe it’ll have to be the GameSir G5. It’s built for FPS and MOBA titles so there are way more buttons than all the previous controllers we’ve seen. Also, the controller has one analog stick and one D-pad while on the other side there is a touchpad instead of the second analog stick. In MOBA games, this is way better when you are selecting a skill and targeting the same. The same can be said for FPS titles because the touchpad or right analog stick is what you use for the firearm cursor and you get a much granular level of control. No wonder the GameSir G5 got backed on Kickstarter within a couple of days. Unfortunately, I couldn’t back it in time. So I’ll have to wait till it’s back in stock for non-backers. What about you guys? Have you come across better controllers than the G5? If so, drop me a line, I’m all ears.

Agent 001

Agent 001