Disclosure: Product sample provided to VGBlogger.com for review consideration by PDP.
Third-party console accessories tend to be inconsistent in quality, especially when it comes to controllers. They’re often cheaper than the official controllers you get straight from Microsoft or Nintendo or Sony, which means they can often feel kind of chintzy compared to the real thing. But I have to say that I have really grown to trust PDP (Performance Designed Products) with making reliable controller alternatives to the first-party offerings. I’ve tested around four different PDP Xbox controllers over the past few years, and not a one has performed poorly or made me want to switch back to a Microsoft pad.
PDP’s latest offering, a wired PC and Xbox One controller sporting a slick Titanfall 2 theme, is yet again of fantastic quality. The faceplate is designed to replicate BT-7274 Titan armor, complete with SRS call sign, a fetching color scheme of black and white with military green and brown, and faux armor plating that is actually molded in a comfortable soft rubbery type of material as opposed to being just a fancy paintjob on a slab of plastic. You can feel the nooks and crannies of the seams between the plates as well as other details like rivet spots and little bumps and ridges.
The black sections on the handles have a sort of scaly snakeskin texture that grips the meaty part of your hand beneath the thumb, while the backside of the controller is made of a matte black rubber that feels incredibly soft and supple and resistant to sweat buildup. The only thing I don’t like is this strip of black plastic that goes along the controller’s bottom edge–from one handle to the other and where the headset jack is–and extends into little oval sections that fall right under your pinky and ring fingers. This strip is a hard plastic with a smooth, shiny finish that is slippery and greasy underneath the fingertips.
The Titanfall 2 controller is part of PDP’s new Faceoff line, which means the themed faceplate actually pops off to leave a blank shell for attaching other faceplates. Right now the only other faceplates are the football themes from the NFL Faceoff controller, but hopefully in the future different game-themed faceplates will be offered to customize and collect with an existing controller instead of always having to buy a new model. $15 for a new faceplate is a whole lot easier on the wallet than shelling out for a whole new controller.
As for the core nuts and bolts of the controller, everything is solidly constructed. The tension and range of motion on the analog sticks is on point, and all of the buttons, including the D-pad, actuate with a firm, smooth response, opposed to feeling overly mushy or clicky in a cheap plastic sort of way, as third-party controllers can be susceptible to. Compared to the Afterglow Prismatic, the impulse left and right triggers have a tighter resistance. The controller also has a built-in headset jack, audio control icons mapped to the D-pad, and a detachable 10ft rubber-coated USB cable.
This controller also carries over the rear multi-function control wheels first introduced by the Afterglow Prismatic. These wheels fall right underneath your middle fingers, each offering three additional inputs– forward and backward rotations, as well as an in-click–for a total of six potential function bindings. Programming the wheels is as easy as pressing a small button on the back, located smack dab between the two wheels, to activate a flashing LED, and then pressing the function wheel in the desired direction before finally pressing the face button, bumper, stick, or D-pad direction you would like to map to it.
Mechanically, the wheel switches feel marginally tighter and more fluid than the Prismatic’s, in addition to sitting a tad more flush with the back casing, which makes them feel smaller and more streamlined. However, the push function still has an occasional catch in the mechanism that makes the in-click action feel stiff and cheaply made. This is no replacement for the luxury of the Xbox One Elite controller’s rear paddles, but the extra functionality is still a nice perk versus a controller without the wheels.
PDP’s Titanfall 2 controller is built for Xbox One and also performs flawlessly as a plug-and-play gamepad with Windows 10. I did have trouble finding driver support with the Afterglow Prismatic when my PC ran Windows 7, but since I’m no longer using that version of the OS I can’t test to see if this controller works any better. Unless you’re in the market for a wireless gamepad, this is a controller well worth adding to your PC or Xbox One arsenal. Obviously Titanfall 2 fans are the target audience, but if you ask me the faceplate has an awesome design with a universal gamer appeal.