These PS4 and Xbox controller thumbstick extenders can level-up your FPS game!
When I wrote an article about game controller accessories not long ago, I knew that one of the stars of this line of products would be PS4 and Xbox controller thumbstick extenders. The reason being was that after some digging, I’ve come to find that the usage of this accessory really does make a difference in FPS gameplay, to the point that the world of eSports has taken notice as well.
There is a lot of rationale for having thumbstick extenders as these can have a significant way of changing the game for players. And while it’s hard to take notice of this from a casual or novice gamer’s POV, there are noticeable advantages that can be seen early on:
Still not at par with the PC master race, but it’s definitely getting better!
In recent times, there has been a lot of clamoring for games to have a cross-platform feature so that console and PC players can join up or compete with each other in a game’s multiplayer capabilities, especially for FPS games. Sadly, most of the FPS titles have decided against this, and from a gamer’s perspective, a lot of it has something to do with having more precision and control on a keyboard/mouse than can ever be experienced on recent-generation controllers.
This definitely comes as no surprise, to be honest – there’s definitely a steep learning curve when learning to play FPS games from a console. I’ve definitely been in that spot – after spending a large amount of my FPS gaming years from the PC, I often find myself moving and aiming less efficiently using thumbsticks. Call it lack of familiarity with the shift and yews of the thumbsticks, but the amount of precise movement in thumbsticks is hard to come by unless you’ve been playing this way for far longer.
You can see that the key setback for better control is THUMBSTICKS.
Compared to using your entire hand to move a mouse across the surface of a table or mouse pad, these movements are streamlined to a flick of a thumb – there’s not much freed
om of movement, while at the same time has a limited amount of movement restriction. This double-ended limitation is a lot to get used to before getting to a competent level where the movement from thumbstick control becomes absolutely fluid.
Not a lot of us have the perseverance to get to that level, but we as console gamers definitely want to get to a comfortable level of control when playing. If there was a way to limit the amount of wasted movement from your thumb while wat the same time isolate the surface area needed to give the right amount of push/pull to the thumbstick in the direction you wanted, then that would definitely makes thumbstick control easier to deal with and translate to better gameplay.
This is where thumbstick extenders come into play.
Thumbstick extenders make use of curved prongs that clamp on top of your controller’s analogs, which by itself already limits the amount of surface area used on the stick; and by lessening the amount of force needed to move around the stick.
Coupled with this is the amount of elevation provided by a thumbstick extender. These products pad a bit more height onto the analog stick, which serves for two purposes: (1) adds some well-needed protection to the analog stick, and (2) shifts direction easier, similar to how a long stick can bend one direction with less effort compared to a shorter stick. While the former is self-explanatory, the latter simply tells that there is more range of motion.
By limiting the amount of surface area to move the stick around, and at the same time adding more range of motion due the elevation, a thumbstick extender gives that much needed control to look and aim split-seconds faster than the next guy.
As much thumbstick types as you can have weapon loadouts!
Another notable thing about thumbstick extenders is that the product line seems to have different designs to suit different FPS styles. Now you may be wondering, what for? Shouldn’t a simple solution like this product accessory be just that – a simple solution? Having several variations would defeat that purpose, whereas the ideal scenario would be having a single turnkey product to deal with different playing styles.
If only it were that simple – might as well undo years of advancements in real-world (and in-game) armaments!
Truth is, current FPS games have welcomed unique play styles – each one has their own specialty and signature weapon classes that can truly tip the scales toward FPS longevity and enjoyment. So you could be pretty good at CQC (closed-quarters combat) and would need some control modification to accommodate quick movement and action. Or you could be a sharpshooter who shines when their controls provide them pinpoint aiming and precision.
I’m personally more of an assault/mid-range type of person, which means I like the ability to aim and fire quickly, while at the same time have the option to aim through a scope while getting into position. So with that, I would probably need one stick extender to manage quick movements, and another that has the right amount of handling in order or precision shots to be done at the spur of the moment.
A single solution can’t cater to each need – so what’s the best solution?
Yep, you guessed it – different variations of thumbstick extenders! Some product manufacturers have created presets to match your FPS or gaming playstyle, so it’s easy to just pick it up, install onto your controller, and immediately experience the benefits. You will find that with these installed, the level of precision and range of movement that you need with your playstyle will have significant improvements. No need to hack your controller’s insides or use a third-party USB connection with firmware modifications that have lag as well.
Now, this does not mean that once you have one set installed on your controller that you are limited to utilizing one single kind of playstyle; nor does it imply that you need to have more than one variant of a thumbstick extender available and switch them around at any given time (the latter especially, we don’t want constant switching of extenders to render your controller’s thumbsticks as completely unusable).
What is important to note that even if you have a variant of an extender installed on your controller, you will still be able to use other playstyles – through this, you will be able to experience some improvements here and there for your other gameplay modes. So in some way, your controller and your overall game receives benefits even if you try to specialize in one game class.
Spotlight: KontrolFreek’s line of thumbstick extenders
One of the most notable brands for thumbstick extenders happens to be KontrolFreek. These guys really put a lot of effort into providing gamers with products that will augment their in-game performance, most especially when it comes to the FPS genre of gaming. Taking into consideration things like ergonomics and player tendencies, KontrolFreek has a series of thumbstick extenders that are definitely worth considering, especially if your gameplay is right around any of these:
FPS Freek Inferno
The Freek Inferno’s bright red is the first thing that catches the eye, which is followed by the spiral-design encased in its concave surface. This etching is more than just form, as it functions nicely in preventing slippage in your thumb grip – the spirals act as edges that hold parts of your thumb’s skin in place as you shift your thumb around when you play.
Both stick extenders in this product are of the same height at 10.4mm, providing equal balance and precision on either analog stick – this is a perfect, all-around kind of extender for running, aiming and shooting quickly and efficiently. Definitely a great add-on to your controller at just $17.
FPS Freek Call of Duty Black Ops III
One look at this product and you can read “Excellent First Person Shooter” all over it! Designed with Treyarch’s infamous franchise in mind, the edges on the later-etched Skulls also provide similar grip that you can find in every other thumbstick provided by KontrolFreek.
This product has a slight variation with extender height – the taller, 10.4mm stick goes on the right analog to provide a greater amount of accuracy with as little effort as possible. The smaller 5.7mm one stays on the left analog to offer a larger range of motion so that you can quickly move and turn as you navigate through the map. It’s a specialty for gamers who look to really dominate the assault game at the middle of battle.
This optimized product prices out at just under $25, and with a little time on the fields, it may even get you tournament ready!
FPS Freek CQCX
There are of course, instances where you need to just get up close and personal as quickly as possible, and get out as soon as possible without losing your grip on your analog sticks. This is where the Freek CQCX comes in – the dotted convex surface allows for faster, more controllable movement without having to adjust your thumb around the stick (which could prevent you from doing things like quickly crouching out of sight or lining up properly for the knife stab).
This product also happens to have the shortest elevation in the KontrolFreek line, which is advantageous for gamers who have smaller hands and grip as well. So if you wanna get stealthy for that surprise melee, at $13 price point is not too hard to reach!
FPS Freek SNIPR
Finally, some of us just want to kick it back and win from afar (read as camping at remote map points to snipe your enemies) – if that’s the case, then SNIPR is for you. At an elevation of 12.8mm, the SNIPR gives you a smaller radius to work with, making it perfect for minor turns and viewshifts while you’re looking down your scope (integral for trying to take someone down with a single shot).
And with a scope-etched convex top keeping your grip light and exact, you’re bound to headshot your way to victory. Not a bad addition to your sniper loadout at $18.
In closing, it’s important to note that when you decide to get yourself a pair of thumbstick extenders, you should take special care of the base sticks that they clamp onto. While supposedly prolonging stick life, you still need to make sure that the rounded area of the analogs are intact so that the extenders clamp on nicely.
It is also good to take note that you could risk breaking your extenders by constantly clipping them on and off your controller, or even by putting constant, excessive force on the sides of the stick (instead of the top). You can keep your extenders alive by getting used to the variant that you buy before considering another (thus keeping that product on your stick longer) and by taking full advantage of the quality grip that you have on the extender’s top.
Whatever the case, the little height and heft does wonders to your FPS bravado and performance. It’s a fun and effective accessory that could take your game to a higher level. Do check it out, and I hope to see you owning in the next-gen battlefield!
Have any thoughts on other really cool thumbstick extenders? Let me know in the comments section!
Categorised in: Controller Reviews