The PS4 has had an excellent generation, despite its slow start when it came to must-play exclusive games. But while those big marquee exclusives trickled out slowly, the PS4 held on by delivering the best console versions of most third-party games. Now, the PS4 is knocking out multiple big exclusives every year, including Final Fantasy VII Remake, Ghost of Tsushima, and The Last of Us Part II in 2020. Throughout the PS4's lifespan, however, Sony's DualShock 4 has proven the best wireless controller to experience all of the PS4's games with--especially since all it takes is the push of a button to share incredible moments like a hilarious glitch or beating a Bloodborne boss without getting touched.
The DualShock 4 is a great pad, and it's a good enough controller for Fortnite and the like, but looking at what Microsoft is doing with Xbox One and Xbox Series X controllers, it can feel a little disappointing not having an official PS4 Elite controller to really elevate the PS4 gaming experience. Sony recently released a back-button accessory that maps two of the DualShock 4's buttons and lets you keep your thumbs on the analog sticks when you want to crouch, jump, reload, or anything in between. However, it doesn't bridge the gap completely, and the battery on the DualShock 4 eventually means you have to use whatever controller charger you have lying around just to play longer sessions. If you're looking for an alternative for the best PS4 controller, there are plenty of great third-party PS4 controller options.
When it comes to the best PS4 controller not made by Sony itself, Scuf has a couple of great pads in the Infinity4PS Pro and the Vantage 2, both of which feature back paddles and a number of other excellent customizable parts--you can even replace the Infinity4PS Pro's trigger buttons with clicky, mouse-like buttons. Razer also has a pair of great controllers that feature extra buttons, multiple configuration profiles, and trigger stops. And those are just a few of the best options for the PS4 controller we have on this list.
There are also controller options that work really well with one type of game in mind. Fight pads and fight sticks are made for a very specific genre, and die-hard fighting game fans looking for the best experience would do well picking one of these up. Razer has an excellent fighting pad in the Raion and a great fight stick in the Panthera Evo, while Victrix hits the high-end with the incredible Arcade Pro FS stick. We've tested a number of great controllers, pads, and sticks and rounded up the very best PS4 controllers here.
Will PS4 controllers be compatible with PS5?
Yes and no. Sony has confirmed that while PS4 controllers will technically work with the PS5 console, they won't be compatible with PS5 games. This means you'll only be able to play PS4 games with your old controllers, but not new ones. This might disincentivize you from buying a new controller, but if you're looking for a more dedicated controller for a specific game (like a fightstick or fightpad), you might take comfort in knowing it won't go to waste once you start playing your favorite game on the Sony's upcoming console. For all PS5 games, you'll need to use the DualSense controller and approved third-party accessories made specifically for the PS5, as Sony wants players to experience the unique features of the DualSense in conjunction with its first-party games.
Quick look: The best PS4 controller to buy in 2020
Trigger system makes it possible to swap out trigger shapes and activate trigger stops
Very comfortable grips and form factor
Off-set analog sticks feel smooth and accurate
Long battery life
Wireless version costs $30 more
The Vantage 2 is Scuf's premium PS4 controller and an excellent choice for those who prefer the off-set analog sticks similar to those found on the Xbox One. It features four back paddles and two extra side buttons, all of which are programmable--I found the back paddles were useful for remapping the face buttons, while the side buttons were excellent for D-pad inputs in shooters, such as activating killstreaks or swapping the fire mode. You're also able to swap out the thumbsticks, D-pad, and faceplate as well as remove the rumble motors, and like the Infinity4PS Pro, it's possible to adjust the trigger stops or replace the trigger entirely with a longer one, just like on the first Scuf controller.
All of these bells and whistles are great to have, even if you don't use them all at once. I found certain configurations were better for shooters, while fighting games benefited from replacing the D-pad with the included circle pad and shorter trigger pulls. You can use the Vantage 2 across a wide selection of games effectively--and on PC--using the Micro-USB port and cable, which is awesome considering how great it feels to use the controller. The face buttons are rounded and are satisfying to push, the back paddles are aligned in extremely comfortable positions, and the D-Pad is one sturdy piece that makes going left-to-right and up-to-down much easier than the official DualShock 4--this can be especially effective in games like Mortal Kombat 11. It also has a much longer battery life than the DualShock 4 when disconnected from its USB cable, which is definitely appreciated.
All of this makes it my preferred gamepad when playing PS4 games. If you're looking for something to rival the Xbox Elite Controller on Sony's platform, you won't be disappointed by the Vantage 2.
Improves on the classic DualShock form factor in almost every way
Share button makes sharing in-game moments easy
Short battery life
The DualShock 4 PS4 wireless controller is a fantastic gamepad that improves on the classic DualShock form factor in all the right ways. The grips on the official Sony controller feel great, the triggers are satisfying to pull, and the Share button makes it easy to save and share screenshots and videos of your best gaming moments. The one downside is that the battery life can feel a little short, requiring you to charge it daily with a micro USB cable if you're playing a game for long sessions. Despite that, however, the DualShock 4 works very well when it comes to playing every single game on the system.
Modular nature lets you swap the left analog stick with D-pad
Programmable back paddles are very comfortable to use
2.4GHz wireless connection provides great low-latency experience...
...but it does require the use of a wireless adapter dongle
Unable to power on PS4
No battery life indicator on PS4
Astro is well-known for its high-end gaming headsets and audio equipment, but the brand has recently ventured into professional-grade controllers with the C40 Tournament Edition. Not only is it ergonomically comfortable, but the C40 has a ton of customizable controller settings. The most important thing to note is that the left analog stick can be swapped to feel like an Xbox or PlayStation controller, letting it feel like a custom controller made just for you no matter your preference. The modded controller might make you doubt its build quality, but the C40 is unquestionably solid. You can't configure the sections to resemble the older Nintendo Pro controller setup (with both analog sticks near the top of the controller), but maybe that's a good thing.
Another key feature is the programmable paddles on the back of the controller. Of all the high-end gamepads with extra buttons, the C40 has the most sensible placement, and these buttons are intuitive from the get-go. The ease of use extends to the triggers and bumpers; their shape and low actuation resistance is a definite upgrade over the DualShock 4. The Astro C40 is quite pricey at $200, but it's all around the best if you're looking for something that's both tuned for competitive gaming and customization. | Michael Higham
Textured grip makes pad even more comfortable to hold
Customizable trigger system allows for very different experiences
EMR key makes remapping back paddles easy
Similar battery life to the DualShock 4
Only two back paddles
The Scuf Infinity4PS Pro is perfect for anyone who likes the DualShock 4's shape and design but wants a little extra customization and utility on top of the form of the official controller. The Infinifty4PS Pro features textured grips, interchangeable thumbsticks, and programmable back paddles--the latter makes use of a magnetic "EMR" key that you simply place on the back of the controller and then press the buttons you wish to remap to the paddles. These delightful features are all par for the course for a Scuf controller, but it's the different types of customizable triggers that make the Infinity4PS Pro so special. The basic triggers are similar to the standard DualShock 4's, while the Trigger Control System offers trigger stops, adjustable hair triggers, and covers for the trigger buttons and extenders. These, of course, come at an increased cost, but these features are beloved by fans of shooters.
Scuf also offers digital tap triggers. These turn the shoulder buttons and triggers into buttons that resemble a PC gaming mouse, clicking just like one as you take aim and fire at the enemy. It feels incredible and is extremely useful when using single-fire weapons like marksman rifles or pistols, though it worked great for automatic weapons as well. These triggers are some of the best I've ever used, but they're specifically designed with shooters in mind and don't feature any analog input like the standard trigger system. This makes them hard to use for games that rely on gradual trigger presses, like Gran Turismo Sport and Trials Rising, so it's important to think about what type of games you play before purchasing this costly controller.
Curved triggers are comfortable to use and rest fingers on
Extra shoulder buttons are placed perfectly on top of controller
Easy remapping via Raiju app
Able to swap between remapped configurations on the fly
Square back paddles aren't as comfortable as other controllers
Limited number of thumbsticks included
Razer has two options for Elite-style controllers, both of which aren't as modular or customizable as the Scuf Vantage 2. Thankfully, they're still both great pads. The Raiju Ultimate features the same analog stick placement as the DualShock 4 and boasts interchangeable thumbsticks and D-Pad. It's also equipped with two remappable back paddles and an extra two shoulder buttons. The back paddles are larger and more square-like than Scuf's paddles--this makes them less comfortable, but they're still easy to use. The Raiju Ultimate's extra shoulder buttons, on the other hand, are particularly great. They click satisfyingly like a gaming mouse and are easy to press with your fingers resting on the triggers. Speaking of the triggers, they feel similar to the Xbox One's and feature trigger stops.
The face buttons also click like a mouse and are extremely pleasing to use in everything from shooters and fighting games to action-adventure titles like Marvel's Spider-Man and Yakuza 0. The D-pad feels pretty good to use, though it is less like a D-pad and more like four separate buttons. One of the modular D-pads is actually just four directional buttons, while the other is one solid piece of plastic that makes it easier to hit diagonals in fighting games. And lastly, the analog sticks move smoothly and feel accurate.
Satisfying is a great way to describe using Razer's Raiju Ultimate, and using the Raiju app for mobile devices makes remapping the extra buttons and creating new profiles extremely easy--you can even swap between profiles with a button on the controller. If you're looking for an Elite-style controller with the same stick placement as the DualShock 4, then Razer's Raiju Ultimate will work excellently in nearly every situation.
Features all of the same paddles and buttons as Raiju Ultimate
Extra shoulder buttons are still excellent
Satisfying, clicky buttons
Easy remapping via Raiju app
Triggers are comfortable and feel great
Unable to swap between remapped configurations on the fly
Mostly plastic body feels cheap in comparison to the Raiju Ultimate
Square back paddles aren't as comfortable as other controllers
The Raiju Tournament Edition is Razer's cheaper--but less customizable--PS4 controller. It still features the back paddles and extra shoulder buttons, but it doesn't have as many bells and whistles as the Raiju Ultimate. left thumbstick is also off-set like the Xbox One controller, and while it does feel less premium than the Raiju Ultimate, it still manages to be a satisfying controller to use. The buttons feature the same mouse clicky-ness as the Ultimate, and while you can't swap out the D-pad, it does feel more like a D-pad as opposed to buttons--it's divided into four quadrants like the DualShock 4.
The triggers retain the same shape, and the trigger stops also return. The analog sticks, on the other hand, aren't quite as smooth-feeling as the Ultimate's, as they're made of plastic as opposed to metal, but they still feel good. And thankfully, you can still remap the extra buttons with the Raiju app, though you won't be able to swap profiles on the controller itself.
In short, the Raiju Tournament Edition may feel cheaper than the Ultimate, but it's still a great controller, especially if you prefer the off-set analog stick placement.
Incredible buttons bridge the gap between controller and fight stick
Multiple switches add functionality for L3, R3, and both analog sticks
Only suitable for very specific types of games
The Razer Raion is a fight pad, which means it's optimized for fighting games. It might be strange to buy a gaming controller without an analog stick, but if you're looking for an excellent way to play fighting games without dropping a huge sum of money on a full stick, then the Raion is an excellent option. This wired controller features a great, clicky D-pad and buttons that resemble a fight stick as opposed to a regular controller, with an extra button in each row of buttons. It's also pretty light, so it's comfortable holding it with one hand and tapping the buttons, piano-style. Thankfully, it also includes digital buttons for every DualShock 4 shoulder button and trigger if you prefer using those.
With the Raion, you don't need to switch to a fully-featured controller for things like character customization within your favorite fighting games. It features a switch that lets you map the D-pad to the left and right analog sticks, making it possible to do everything you need on the PS4. Of course, the lack of real analog sticks and triggers makes it nigh impossible to play most games on the console, but if you're customizing a character or just viewing in-game models, then this switch makes it easy to do so--a separate switch also lets you turn the L1 and L2 buttons into L3 and R3.
It's not for every kind of a gamer, but if you're in the market for a fight pad, then it's hard to beat the Raion. It's comfortable and performed well in every fighting game I played, from NetherRealm fighters like Mortal Kombat 11 and Injustice 2 to Capcom's Street Fighter V and Bandai Namco's Tekken 7. At half the price of Razer's Panthera Evo fight stick, it's a very attractive controller for fighting game fans. Once you get used to it, you probably won't miss the lack of a thumbstick.
Incredible buttons and joystick make for the best fighting game experience
Extra buttons cover everything you'll possibly need in and out of fights
Sturdy, aluminum body feels as premium as the price tag
Easily opened for modding
The Victrix Pro FS arcade stick is expensive, but it lives up to its price tag. It's a premium fight stick with a base made entirely of aluminum, making it feel like an absolute tank. Thankfully, the stick is also extremely comfortable to place on your lap and use across Street Fighter V, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Tekken 7, Soulcalibur 6, or just about any other fighting game. The Sanwa Denshi parts feel solid, with a stick that's both accurate and satisfying in motion. It also feels sturdy, and unlike cheaper sticks, I wasn't worried it would break while I was in the middle of some particularly desperate matches.
The buttons are among the best I've used on a fight stick. There's a small, yet pleasing amount of throw between the beginning of the push to the end, with a satisfying click to accentuate each button press. The pleasing feel of the buttons made it much more enjoyable trying to learn new combos, and I found myself becoming more effective in Dragon Ball FighterZ as a result.
In addition to the crucial buttons every fight stick needs, the Pro FS features a row of buttons that are assigned to other functions. It features Options, Share, a button for changing the colored lighting, a button for audio, three programmable "Pro" buttons, and one that locks these buttons from being pressed accidentally during gameplay. The Pro buttons allow the player to program L3 and R3 to two of them, while the third is used for Training Mode--it resets the characters' positioning in various supported games. You can also switch the joystick between the D-pad to the left and right analog stick by holding the Victrix logo button and the joystick in a specific direction--it's not as easy as flipping a switch like what Razer's sticks and pads offer, but it's still a must-have feature. The stick is also very travel-friendly, featuring handles, a plastic organizer to wrap your cable around, and a removable joystick that you can easily store in the body of the stick.
The Pro FS is a premium stick at a premium price tag. If you're not a hardcore fighting game player, then this stick isn't for you. It costs as much as a console, which can deter some players, but if you're looking for the best fighting experience on PS4 and are serious about competitive play, then this excellent wired controller is for you.
Includes a switch that gives you control of the D-pad and both analog sticks
Almost every button and function from the DualShock 4 is present here
Cable is not removable
Cable compartment feels a little cheap
If you're looking to save a little money but still want an excellent fight stick, then the Razer Panthera Evo is worth considering. The stick is entirely made of plastic, which can feel a little hollow. Thankfully, it's still solidly-built and feels comfortable. The buttons and stick are made by Sanwa, and both feel great. The plastic stick manages to hold up well; the buttons have a small throw and click satisfyingly as you knock out combos. The Xbox One's Razer Atrox is a great fight stick, but it's slightly outshined by the Panthera Evo when it comes to sheer playability.
The Panthera Evo is capable of controlling everything a regular DualShock 4 can. It features buttons for L3, R3, Options, and Share as well as muting your microphone and controlling your headset's volume. It also comes equipped with its own touchpad and a switch that flips the joystick between D-Pad and the left and right analog sticks. However, unlike its Xbox One counterpart, the Panthera Evo's cable is non-removable. You can wrap it up and store it in the stick's compartment, though I shudder to think what would happen if it broke off somehow. Having to replace the entire stick when only the cable breaks is a frustrating--and expensive--headache that other sticks avoid by making the cable removable.
That said, the Razer Panthera Evo is still an excellent fight stick for the money. It's very enjoyable to use for all types of fighting games, so if you're looking for one of the best mid-range sticks, then the Panthero Evo is a great one to go with.
Aluminum top panel makes the already sturdy build quality feel even more premium
Clicky buttons makes the pursuit of landing combos feel great
Joystick feels accurate and responsive
Extra buttons and switches cover everything you'll possibly need in and out of fights
Solidly built cable compartment makes travel and storage easy
Cable is not removable
Hori has a long history of creating third-party controllers, and there have been some incredible gems along the way. Most recently, the company has been excelling with its line of fight sticks, which includes the Hori Fighting Edge for PS4. The Fighting Edge is the company's premium fight stick, sporting an aluminum top panel that makes the already solid-feeling chassis feel even more heavy-duty. Its build quality is further enhanced by the responsive and clicky Hayabusa buttons--Hori's proprietary hardware--as well as the excellent cable compartment that feels tight and secure, making it easy to roll up the cable and keep it tucked away safely in between sessions. It would be a near-flawless design if the joystick itself was metal, just to give it a sturdier feel, though the plastic version still performed well in my time with the Fighting Edge.
One particular feature set that’s always appreciated in fight sticks is the replication of every function you find on a standard controller. The Hori Fighting Edge has buttons for L3, R3, and share in addition to switches for right-stick control and Tournament Mode, the latter of which is used to turn off all non-critical functions during a match.
The Hori Fighting Edge is an excellent fight stick that worked well with every game I tested it with, including Dragon Ball FighterZ and Tekken 7. Its buttons and joystick perform well during intense battles, while its sturdy build quality is sure to hold up over a long time.