A plethora of features at a premium price that feels pretty nice.
Elite Controllers aren’t necessarily new to this generation of gaming. Xbox has had their first-party Elite Controller since October 2015 with staple features like swappable sticks, programmable buttons, and additional inputs through paddles. PlayStation, on the other hand, has dabbled in premium controllers through third-party manufacturers like Razer, HORI, and Nacon, but none of them seemed to be enough to compare to Microsoft’s in-house peripheral. That is, until earlier this year when the officially-licensed Scuf Vantage for PlayStation 4 was announced.
While these controllers are not traditionally marketed towards the FGC, the features they offer can truly benefit players of all skill levels. At E3 I got the chance to get a preview of the Scuf Vantage for PlayStation 4, and since then I’ve been theorizing ways to utilize the Vantage in fighting games… and now its finally been put to the test. I’ve taken the Scuf Vantage through the ringer with a variety of fighting game titles, seeing what the controller can do in a competitive fighting environment.
At first glance, the Scuf Vantage appears to be a hybrid between the DualShock 4 and the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller. The controller features an asymmetrical stick layout, which seems to be the norm when it comes to all of Sony’s forays into the Elite Controller space — which begs the question of this being the definitive layout for traditional controllers. (Disclaimer: The Xbox One controller is personally the most comfortable controller I’ve used before this review!) The controller’s handles are spread further apart, like a DualShock 4 controller, and there are four remappable paddles on the bottom of the controller. The similarities end there.
Where the Xbox One Elite Controller touts its stainless steel analog sticks, the Scuf Vantage focuses on highly durable plastics for its analog sticks with an extreme grip. The paddles are made of plastic as well, unlike the Xbox One Elite Controller (which has metal ones), but these paddles feel much more effective and comfortable due to their ergonomics. Your hand fits perfectly in the grooves of the paddles so you don’t accidentally press them, they also require a hard press to activate, but not too hard.
The backs of the handles are rubberized with a matte feel. The rubber on the Xbox Elite controller and other premium Xbox controllers like the Lunar White feels a bit slippy, especially once your hands get heated. I haven’t had any issues with the Vantage yet through extensive playtesting. Which is something Scuf takes seriously: it even sells anti-lotion to keep your hands dry.
The Side Action Buttons (SAX) are well-placed, but may result in accidental presses with early use. It’s easy to remove the SAX buttons if you don’t plan on using them, but they are extremely efficient in adding utilitarian actions like grabs, dashes, and super moves. The Control Disc, while it may look silly at first since its basically a flattened analog stick, makes sense in use. It is a little strange to look at, especially in comparison to the more modernized take available on the Xbox Elite Controller with its inverted Epcot design.
The analog sticks can be swapped out for varying lengths and shapes. There are two short concave sticks and with two tall domed sticks included with the controller itself. Players can purchase more sticks and triggers of varying colors on Scuf’s store site. Controllers can also be customized ahead of time when purchased, allowing players to pick their favorite color faceplates and accessories.
All in all, the Scuf Vantage is a very well-designed controller, even if the color choices for the rubber can appear a bit gaudy for how bright and neon they are in comparison to the muted metallic colors provided for the faceplates. Everything has a purpose and no real estate is wasted. There’s even an additional touch bar at the bottom that lights up when used in its wired mode to control the audio for game chat. Absolute control is literally at your fingertips.
The Scuf Vantage is definitely the most “premium” controller I’ve ever used, and it honestly makes it difficult to go back to using the traditional DualShock 4. Even early on into my testing, I switched to the regular PS4 controller to see how different the Scuf Vantage really was — and it’s incredible how different the two controllers feel and how dependent I became on using the SAX buttons and paddles.
Remapping inputs is easy as pie. All you need to do is toggle the bottom right switch to mapping mode, press and hold the SAX or paddle you want to map, next, while still holding the desired extra button, press and hold the input you want it mapped to. Then all you need to do is release the standard button, then the extra button, and toggle the switch back to the left, and repeat for any other desired inputs. No need for any additional software, everything is done to the controller itself. There is a downside to this, however: the Xbox Elite Controller, with it being directly first-party, does in fact have software built into the OS that allows players to adjust their controls all in one place. While it’s certainly a quicker process than the Vantage’s method, being able to do everything in the controller itself means it won’t really obstruct others while they wait for you to go to a separate menu, you both can stick in training before your match while you get your necessary inputs altered.
The Scuf Vantage’s wireless model can be switched entirely to its wired mode, turning off all Bluetooth communications. This is perfect for tournaments where using the standard PS4 controller can cause additional stress and wait times between matches due while ensuring it’s unpaired from the venue’s console. This is something that’s possible to mitigate in the settings of a PlayStation 4, but it’s still an additional hassle that can be avoided thanks to Vantage’s wired mode.
Bluetooth, on the other hand, is easy to set up. While using another controller, navigate to the settings on your PlayStation 4 and access the controller menu. Hold down the PS button and the Share buttons until the controller flashes white. It will eventually appear on the list of available controllers. Once its synced you are good to go, I was able to perform any ordinary function like powering on my console with the Vantage, so once it’s paired you won’t need that secondary controller.
I will say that I did run into some problems with the Bluetooth that might totally be self-inflicted. I attempted to pair the controller with my PC to see its compatibility with Steam games and while it paired easily to my computer, it was difficult getting it back to my PS4. After some trial and error, I found you will have to remove the controller from your list to add it back to your available accessories. To do this, highlight the Scuf Vantage and press X, then press the Options button and remove the controller from the console. Then you will need to pair it again as you did originally. After that, I have never had any issues with the controller.
Also, if you don’t want any of these extra buttons, they are easily removable. While it might defeat some of the point in purchasing a premium controller like the Scuf Vantage, you will still be greeted with a strong traditional experience thanks to the controller’s high build quality and comfort.
Specific Titles Tested:
Street Fighter V
The first title I tested the Scuf Vantage in was Street Fighter V, a traditional 2D fighter, to get an overall feel for the form factor and getting a hang of the base features of the controller. The face buttons all felt great and the L1 and R1 buttons have a nice click to them that is not present in a traditional DualShock. The triggers have a nice and short draw distance and the texture used for them provides enough friction to not let your fingers slip while keeping them on the button. It felt familiar to use the Scuf Vantage, but it also felt better to execute even the simplest of motions.
After playing shortly with the D-Pad — which feels great on its own but does not offer quite as much give as I would like, especially for Dragon Punch motions — I began to use the Control Disc. I found the Control Disc difficult to use at first. It felt like my movements were being slowed down, which they technically were. The rubber used for the Control Disc is the same as the material used for the control sticks, which means your finger isn’t meant to slide easily across it, at least not without getting used to it first. It wasn’t until testing with other titles that I really got the hang of how to use the Control Disc properly.
When it comes to mapping additional inputs, it would make sense to map heavy punch and heavy kick to the exterior paddles so you can activate your V-Trigger. The interior paddles could even be used for medium punch and medium kick for V-Skills. For a game like Street Fighter V, it might be best to remove the SAX buttons, since there might not be a benefit for them in this title exactly. But the great thing is that it is up to you to make that call, depending on your preferences.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Dragon Ball FighterZ was the first title that came to mind when I thought of using the Scuf Vantage’s SAX buttons and remappable paddles. I assigned the assists to the SAX buttons for easy access and mapped R1 and R2 to the exterior paddles. This lets you keep your right thumb on the face buttons and gives instant access to supers, Super Dashes, and Dragon Rush attacks.
After messing around in training mode for a bit, my remapped inputs became second nature. I was able to switch characters on the fly and effectively tag super moves with ease all without needing to move my index fingers. The amount of time necessary to pull down a trigger or move your fingers from the bottom of the controller to the top may be all that’s needed to cut out to have that edge many players get with fightsticks.
Quarter circle inputs are a breeze and I feel more in control of my characters than ever before, especially in Dragon Ball FighterZ. For a game that seems to be designed with a traditional gamepad in mind, it’s even better with the Scuf Vantage.
BlazBlue Chronophantasma Extend
The Control Disc was one of the most exciting features of the Scuf Vantage because of its unique input benefits, and I felt BlazBlue’s sometimes complex inputs would be the perfect lab for the premium controller. Traditionally, inputs necessary for special attacks like Ragna the Bloodedge’s Carnage Scissor can be a little tough to pull off on a regular controller. For those unaware, the inputs necessary are a half circle motion backward and an immediate press forward. On a DualShock 4, it can be very easy to accidentally continue with a half circle or a quarter circle forward due to how small and mushy the D-Pad is. I was able to execute the Carnage Scissor inputs with ease and accuracy in one go with the Control Disc. I performed the combination ten times in a row to ensure the Control Disc is the real deal.
Other complex inputs became easier to pull off and were able to be performed more consistently. If there’s one thing that gets me in trouble in fighting games, it’s trying to pull off a tricky super move and failing multiple times, wasting time and health, whenever the match could have been won in an instant if I was successful the first time. The Scuf Vantage’s Control Disc is clicky so you always know when you effectively pressed a button and large enough to not accidentally press an unwanted direction.
The more time I’ve spent with the Scuf Vantage, the more I’ve become sure it’s my new controller of choice. Plus you can get a red faceplate and white sticks — so you can even make it look like Ragna the Bloodedge, and that’s awesome.
While it might take some getting used to, the Scuf Vantage creates an experience that is unlike any other on PlayStation 4. Some might be turned off by the price alone, and that’s understandable, its a lot to ask for a traditional controller, but the Scuf Vantage is anything but standard. Thanks to its many features and focus on customization, the Scuf Vantage can be personally tailored to every game experience. No matter the fighter, no matter the title, there’s a way to make the Scuf Vantage a valuable asset.
- Tons of customizable features (remappable buttons, removable paddles, swappable sticks, control disc, colored accessory kits).
- Incredibly comfortable (rubberized grips, adjustable weight by removable vibration modules, form factor).
- Officially licensed by Sony (proposed longevity of support).
- Shortening the distance for the triggers don’t work as well as they should (easily snap out of place).
- Takes some adjusting to not accidentally press additional buttons.
- Not everything is customizable, the Menu, Share, L1, R1 buttons and the D-Pad cannot be changed out and will remain silver.
The Scuf Vantage is available for purchase directly through Scuf Gaming‘s online site and through GameStop as the controller’s currently-exclusive retailer with a wired version for $169.99 and the wireless /wired version for $199.99
Scuf Gaming provided Shoryuken with a review unit of the Scuf Vantage Wireless/Wired PS4 controller.