The Vantage 2 by Scuf is the next evolution in their customizable controller line and after spending a week with this device I've discovered that I can no longer live without it.
It isn't the unique features that suddenly make it a necessity in my life. The extra buttons are certainly ergonomically pleasing, and the interchangeable sticks, triggers, buttons, and face plates are certainly a luxury. What makes the Vantage 2 greater than the sum of its parts though, is that, in a very short amount of time, this controller has become my controller. It belongs to me in a way no other controller ever has before. It might sound hyperbolic now, but once you get one of these in your hands, tinker with it a bit to get it just right, you'll realize this thing was made for you and only you and you'll never want to put it down.
Tuned To Perfection
Before I get all mushy about how "special" this thing is, let's go through the features that make it different from your standard DualShock 4 wireless controller. There's a lot: It starts with a removable (and interchangeable) faceplate. From there you can switch out the control sticks, D-pad, and even remove the rumble packs to make the controller lighter and extend the battery life. Everything pops right off and right back on with no fuss and no chance you're going to accidentally break or lose tiny parts. It's designed to be super easy to change quickly.
There's a variety of control stick lengths and shapes you can switch out if you like more throw or different texture and it comes with a tool to adjust the tension on each stick. I experimented with all of them and found a concave rubbery pair that just feels right for me. I also replaced the d-pad with a directional disk, which I'm sure is designed for fighting game players because it makes sweeps easier to execute, but i'm in love with it even as just a place to rest my thumb and I hope it gets adopted into all controllers in the future.
On the face plate itself you've got 2 self-lubricating friction rings which are a lot more interesting than they sound. Those can also be switched out and replaced. They give the smoothest glide I've ever felt on a control stick.
Next you've got your triggers, which pop right off and can be replaced with longer triggers or triggers with different textures. I found that longer ones didn't feel better for me, but that's sort of the whole point: it comes with some many options for customizing that you'll quickly find the set up that's right for you.
Under the triggers is another genius design: two little rotating knobs that can be set to impede the distance of your trigger pull, meaning that you can set shorter pull and reset distances to buy back valuable milliseconds on each trigger pull. In competitive FPS games, that can mean a huge advantage. In Destiny 2, I set my right trigger to have the shortest pull and the left trigger for a longer one because it turns out if you don't pull the trigger all the way your sparrow doesn't go max speed. That something that's going to be different for every game, but its easy to flip them around and experiment.
Before I get into the extra inputs, there's a USB-Bluetooth toggle on the bottom to switch between wired and wireless play and a toggle for configuring your buttons. They've made it brain dead simple: flip the switch, hold the 2 buttons you want to reprogram, flip the switch back, done. It takes about 10 seconds to program or reprogram the buttons however you want. Piece of cake. Theres also a touch sensor where it says Vantage 2 where you can slide up and down to adjust your volume. Super handy and again, should be on every control made going forward.
Moving Buttons Reinvents The Controller
Not only does the Vantage 2 put buttons in better places, it manages to keep all the buttons in their original configuration as well to help with the learning curve. While you can map any button you want to any of the new inputs, for most cases it makes the most sense to remap the L1 and R1 to the left and right Sax buttons, put X and Square on the left and right outside paddles and triangle and circle on the left and right inside buttons.
When you try it it totally makes sense. Changing R1 and L1 to the Sax buttons, which sit right underneath the base of your index fingers, means that you never have to move your fingers off of the triggers to throw a grenade or melee. You just apply a little side pressure with your index finger and keep steady on the trigger. It's less strain on your hands and, again, milliseconds saved add up to huge advantage.
The paddles make so much sense too. With this set up in Destiny (Or Call of Duty: Modern Warefare) you'll have jump on the left paddle and reload on the right, meaning you never ever take your thumb off of the right stick. It's the kind of why-didn't-I-think-of-that feature that, in the future, will make us seem so foolish for trying to alternate between looking around and jumping or reloading for all these years. The inside triggers can then be used for crouching and switching weapons, requiring just a very small adjustment of your middle finger to press, but infinitely less travel than from right stick to triangle or circle.
I should mention that they've also swapped the d-pad and left stick to match the Xbox controller layout. Though I was at first resistant the reasoning makes perfect sense: the left stick move up and down primarily and the right stick moves left and right. Positioning them this way is the most ergonomic and easiest for your hands. I love it now and can't go back to the standard DualShock 4 layout.
Great Than The Sum Of Its Parts
Swap-able face plates and different length control sticks doesn't sell a controller that's more than twice as much as a standard controller on paper. For me, I think about how much time I spend using my controller daily and what a controller means to me. It the single device that allows me to connect with the virtual experience that I'm having. It's the physical extension of my will, the way I express myself in game, and how I demonstrate my skills. Why wouldn't you want the best device possible, made for you, BY you? The Vantage 2 didn't make me better at games, but it did unlock my potential more than any other controller has or can. It removes the limitations or design flaws that we've dealt with for so long that we've never really wondered if there might be a better way.
Scuf found a better way, and the Vantage 2 is it.
The Vantage 2 (and their entire line of PlayStation and Xbox controllers) is available on Scuf's website. They've already got 60+ faceplates available for the Vantage 2 with different colors, designs, and team branding. You can learn more about the Vantage 2 at https://scufgaming.com/playstation-vantage-2-controller.