A top down shot of 8 controllers, 2 phones, a camera, and varied accessories. The full set of controllers are: Microsoft Elite Series 2, Sony PS4, PowerA MOGA XP-7, Xbox One, Kishi v2, 8bitdo NES, Jungle Cat, and Steam.

Figure 1: The Controllers

What Is Below

I initially intended this post be a guide and review on getting controller gaming to be more accessible. Rather than drone on with too many thousands of words, I felt this post should be condensed into something of a reference and highlights reel and it still ended up being a longer read than I expected.

Below are my general thoughts and opinions on controller gaming. I’ve spent significant time tuning controller configs for Destiny 2 and No Man’s Sky which I play the most. I’ve also ensured the below setup and approach is easily adapted to pretty much any game. Destiny 2 and No Man’s Sky are incredibly complex games when it comes to control schemes and I believe the below is close, if not equal to Keyboard and Mouse input device gaming.

Yes, I just claimed I can match Keyboard and Mouse players with a controller for utility and never moving my thumbs off the move/look sticks. I’ve got over 1,0000 hours of play time in Destiny 2 and can play any of the hardest content with the control scheme presented below. If you look close you’ll see just how complex Destiny 2 is as game and why controller selection is critical. I have included my Destiny 2 in-game configuration as well so you can see how the general controller config maps to game actions.

The Only Consideration

Before we get too far into opinion land, I’d like to point out the only considerations I consider important.

They are:

  • What works for your hands?
  • Is it comfortable?
  • Does it cause health issues or pain? (It should not)
  • It doesn’t get in the way of you enjoying a game
  • Paddles should be a consideration as a requirement. They allow your thumbs to remain on look/move and still retain the ability to jump/reload/etc while also moving and looking around
  • Ensure there are at least two buttons/paddles on the controller grips OR it has 3 total buttons per ‘shoulder’: standard shoulder button, trigger, additional button that can be bound to any other button

If the above considerations are met, I think it’s a perfectly valid and acceptable controller for use.

This post is about how I got controllers to “get out of my way” and be comfortable for regular use. Nothing more.

Organization

This rest of this post is organized as sections with the following order.

  • A note on controller clips
  • Controllers I’d recommend and any notes I have after regular use
  • Links to sites selling controllers and accessories I’d consider purchasing
  • My primary Microsoft Elite Series 2 configuration
  • My Destiny 2 in-game configuration

Controller Clips

While reviewing the below I’d like to note the 8bitdo controller clip works very well with a number of Xbox styled controllers. It works so well, I use it with my Microsoft Elite Series 2 as well as my Scuff Instinct. I also have a short usb-c cable I use to connect the controller to the phone.

It can be a really good option for phones that won’t work with some of the nicer, more phone focused controllers.

Some Considerations

  • Very good options available
  • Lets you use a lot of ‘good’ controllers freely
  • Weight/portability can be an issue
  • Center of gravity can be a problem depending on the controller

Controllers

Microsoft Elite Series 2

  • Hard to beat for comfort
  • I especially like the paddle layout and where the rear paddles are placed
  • The paddles do not seem to work over Bluetooth
  • I do not recommend this controller if you need Bluetooth connection support
  • The tuning app is second to none, it’s worth the extra cost to me

Scuff Instinct

  • Next best controller to the Microsoft Elite Series 2
  • The paddles are more horizontally laid out and its difficult to push both paddles on the same side concurrently
  • The ‘rear’ paddle is a ‘push’ motion which confuses my mind slightly
  • It works with paddles over Bluetooth
  • The profiles for button mappings to the paddles works
  • The tuning is far less than the Microsoft Elite Series 2 but more than enough for general gaming

Razor Kishi v1 and v2

  • v1 not worth it due to lack of paddles/grip buttons and it’s End Of Life, avoid this version
  • v2 is very nice if your phone can be used with it
  • The app is required for extra button mapping the two extra shoulder buttons
  • Light and portable
  • No first party case but third party cases work well

8bitdo NES Controller

  • Works great with bluetooth
  • If you need an original style NES controller, this is the one to buy in my opinion

PowerA MOGA XP-7

  • Has 2 paddles, one on each grip
  • Worth considering for mobile and or bluetooth needs if the Kishi v2 isn’t an option in my opinion
  • Can hold most phones in cases in my light testing
  • Big and semi-heavy, worthy of xbox controller licensing
  • It works with paddles over bluetooth
  • Way to large and unwieldy with my phone in my hands
  • The charging is via Qi (wireless) only

The following links are in no particular order and my recommended starting points for finding controllers.

KemoNine’s Primary Microsoft Elite Series 2 Config

The below is my primary config for my Microsoft Elite Series 2. This is my starting point for games at the controller level. I do tune this for individual games, especially if they are less complex and don’t need anything beyond some basic paddle setup.

I try very hard to keep functions to specific buttons and paddles in my gaming so this is just a general starting point. I do a lot of in-game configuration too. The Destiny 2 config section below will show details on how I setup games to work with this controller config.

Button Mappings

Only the paddles need mappings, assign everything else to match the physical controller

Left Rear Paddle

Primary
D-Pad Up
Shift
X

Left Front Paddle

Check Use as Shift button

Right Rear Paddle

Primary
Y
Shift
D-Pad Right

Right Front Paddle

Primary
A
Shift
B

Left Stick

Primary

Sensitivity Curve
Aggressive
Curve adjustment
Fourth notch from left

Shift

Sensitivity Curve
Aggressive
Curve adjustment
Fourth notch from the left

Right Stick

Primary

Sensitivity Curve
Smooth
Curve adjustment
Fourth notch from the left

Shift

Sensitivity curve
Smooth
Curve adjustment
None

Triggers

Left
0 - 100
Right
50 - 100

Vibration

Set all sliders to the seventh notch from the left

Color

Brightness
50% (ish)
Color
White

KemoNine’s Destiny 2 In-Game Config

General

  • Look sensitivity: 8 (direct hid)
  • Look sensitivity: 12 (steam link / elite)
  • Look sensitivity: 10 (steam link / powera moba xp7x plus)
  • Ads sensitivity modifier: 0.5
  • Sprint-turn scale: 0.8
  • Vertical inversion: inverted (im a monster, deal with it)

Buttons

Be sure to start with the defaults before applying the below.

Fire
right triger (single press)
Hold zoom
left trigger (single press)
Reload
left stick (double press)
Alternate weapon action
dpad right (single press)
Auto melee
right shoulder (single press)
Grenade
left shoulder (double press)
Super
left + right shoulder (single press concurrently – combo/chord)
Jump
a (single press)
Finisher
right stick (single press)
Highlight player
right stick (long press)
Sprint
left stick (single press)
Toggle crouch
right stick (double press)
Light attack
right shoulder (single press)
Heavy attack
right trigger (single press)
Block
left trigger (long press / hold)
Stasis breakout
b (double press)
Class ability (all)
left shoulder (long press)
Air dive ability
left shoulder (long press)
Swap to kinetic or energy weapon
y (single press)
Swap to power weapon
y (long press)
Interact
dpad up (single press)
Emoji 1
dpad left (double press) / thanks
Emoji 2
dpad left (long press) / face palm
Emoji 3
dpad down (double press) / cowbell
Emoji 4
dpad down (long press) / salute or sit

Tuneables

  • If you find yourself needing warlock icarus dash in a better spot than b, dpad may be a good spot if you can spare an emoji
  • If you find yourself needing stasis breakout in a better spot than b, dpad may be a good spot if you can spare an emoji
  • Long press events trigger single press events ; you should NOT overlap long and single press on a single button

Important Notes

  • This setup alternates hands for complimentary actions and balancing forces applied to buttons/triggers/sticks as you play
  • This lets you move around while holding sticks for things like ‘interact holds’ or ’toggle crouch’ – if you have crouch on movement stick itll auto-drop you out of crouch because youve tripped the movement stick – moving it to look stick fixed the problem – the game engine input processing limits stick config options that work with the flow of movement in-game
  • You can safely shuffle some things around based on usage patterns ; just dont change single/double/hold for how things activate ; a lot of this layout avoids issues with the input engine (see below)
  • Long press events trigger single press events ; you should NOT overlap long and single press on a single button – this appears to be a BUG in the input engine code

See also