The year of 2018 has come and gone with Galoot’s Loot remaining quiet throughout. The last post here was on January 15, 2018 with Digital Renaissance – 2018 and Beyond. There are several reasons for that silence; many personal while others also personal. While I’ve continued to play video games – lots of them – I’ve steered more towards enjoying my time with them instead of “working” while playing. I’ve also focused my energy on my other writing at Fictional Tendencies. And I’ve done plenty of reading. But before I go too far off on this tangent, Galoot’s Loot is still up and running – I was surprised to see that people are still visiting, for that THANK YOU! – and I’m ending the year with a review of sorts on the SCUF Vantage Controller for the PS4.
DISCLAIMER: I was given this controller to review. I did not pay for it.
Where to start? I personally despise the use of any type of modified or SCUF controller for playing video games. The point of video games is to have fun. They are also a tool that can help to develop fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. For “Pro” Gamers to state that they use SCUF to enhance their performance and increase their skill is akin to Professional Athletes that state they used performance enhancing drugs to increase their game-play. To me, there’s no difference between the two. In order to remove this bias I will focus on whether or not this is a good product and whether or not this is a product of necessity.
SCUF knows how to handle a package, take that any way you want, its meant to be understood both ways. The box that the Vantage controller comes in is top-notch cardboard, its sturdy and reliable. Hell, I might want to be buried in it when I die. It’s that nice.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
- SCUF Vantage Controller
- SCUF Vantage Protection Case (Wireless/Wired Models Only)
- 10ft High Speed Braided Micro-USB Cable
- 2x Long Domed Thumbsticks
- 2x Long Trigger Covers
- 2x Anti-friction Rings
- 1x Control Disc
- 1x SCUF Key (0.9mm)
- Product Manual
- Product Guide
- Quick Start Guide
- Sticker Pack
You get all of the above for the cost of $199.99. That’s right, for half the price of the PS4 Pro Console you get a controller that you can modify, or personalize, to enhance your game-play.
Is the controller worth $199.99? It does everything the standard PS4 controller does and slightly more but I hope to answer that question in the paragraphs to follow.
LAYOUT AND FEATURES
As you can see in the image above the SCUF Vantage has a lot going on for it, but not all of it is what Sony purists would agree to; specifically, the swapped locations of the left thumb stick and directional pad. With the left thumb stick raised this controller feels more like an XBox Controller. If I wanted to play with a Microsoft product I would own an XBox One.
The extended face plate doesn’t feel comfortable in my hands when playing. On the standard PS4 Controller I use my ring and pinky fingers, on each hand, to grip the controller so that I can claw grip the trigger buttons. With the SCUF Vantage my natural grip is obstructed because of the shortened handles, extended face plate and the back paddles. While playing I found that my grip would accidentally hit a paddle and a newly mapped button would trigger an action that was unintended.
Now, I understand that this is Sony’s big appearance into the “Professional Gaming” Market with SCUF but shouldn’t they have spent the extra money (if it costs extra) to have their own product retro fitted with SCUF’s hardware? I think so, but instead what I think happened here is that Sony wanted a litte more control over what went into the SCUF Vantage and both SCUF and Sony wanted to save some money by using a similar body design. In this instance Sony and SCUF both win, they make more money and minimize their risks. While we the Sony purists lose.
What I would have liked to see in this joint effort is a Sony licensed SCUF controller more inline with the SCUF Infinity 4PS Pro, a SCUF modified PS4 Controller.
To test out the controller I chose three games; The Last of Us Remastered, H1Z1 and Pinball FX3. First off, I can tell you that there was a noticable difference in the game-play. While playing both The Last of Us and H1Z1 I noticed the retical would “assist” my shot. No thank you SCUF. I have established a muscle memory with my drag shot aimed down sites shots. It might not be perfect but it works 65% of the time, all of the time. I clearly missed my mark on a shot but the controller seemed to snap to the desired headshot allowing me to get a down in The Last of Us. This didn’t sit well with me because I felt I just robbed my opponent of a down for his team, imagine that, a player that tries to play fair.
I also noticed that the game seemed to run slower. What I suspect is that it had to do with the Blue Tooth connectivity from the SCUF Vantage controller to the PS4. Yes, I was playing wireless and when I plugged into the USB the delay ceased to exist. I’m sorry but this shouldn’t happen, it doesn’t happen with my PS4 Controllers.
Other noticable differences in gameplay is that the hit boxes appeared to be bigger, possible because of the built-in aim assist on the SCUF Vantage. I was able to mark opponents that were in no way visible. And the ability to hit a pabble and change weapons without changing your point of view, while an advantage, is a huge disadvantage to the opponents.
When I played Pinball FX3 the flippers were more responsive on the tables, which is a positive that can be attributed to the quality build of the SCUF Vantage. But I believe the aim assist of the controller allowed the table’s flippers to catch more balls going down center table. It felt like the flippers had more grab than they typically do.
The build quality is a surprise, the SCUF Vantage looks like it’s made of cheap plastic, but it’s sturdy. By accident my controller dropped from a height of around two feet, I had place it in my lap while talking to my daughter and she was excited and made a sweeping hand gesture that knocked the controller out of my lap. The controller hit the floor, the magnetic face plate flew off and vibration motors popped out. I put everything back together and it was as if nothing happened. SCUF gets major points for their surprising build quality.
Another positive that stood out was the rubberized grip. I simply loved this feature. It made the controller feel comfortable and snug in my hands, I couldn’t tell if I was holding the SCUF Vantage controller or if it was holding me.
Other positives include the ability to customize the length of the R2 and L2 Triggers, the height of the thumb sticks and the option to change out the Directional Pad for a Directional Disc.
And this is where my list of positives on the SCUF Vantage controller stop. The ability to customize is great, even better for someone who loves gaming but has difficulty using a standard controller because of some type of physical disability or limitation. Now if that was SCUF’s sole purpose, to help Gamers with disabilities, they would have my full support. But alas, it is only a small part of their business. They are in the business to make money, and business is and has been good, especially with their presence in professional gaming.
SCOFF AT SCUF
Now as I stated in the introductory paragraphs, I have an established bias with SCUF controllers, I despise them. I also stated that I would try to remove that bias by focusing on two key points: 1) is it a good product? and 2) is it a necessity? So far I think I’ve been fair, the SCUF Vantage has some solid strengths; it’s well-built, it creates options for Gamers, but that’s where their products strengths stop.
If you were to head on over to SCUF’s website (no, I will not link that site here) you will see that SCUF touts the Vantage controller as “The purest connection between you and the game.” I’m sorry but, NO! Flat out NO. The purest connection between me and the game is the standard equipment that the manufacturer provides. Sure, the standard equipment might limit you to the constraints of what is programmed but isn’t that the point? To work through a problem, over come obstacles with the most basic of gaming needs? I think it is. That’s how I grew up gaming. You do what you can with what is provided. And when you beat a game or kill another player in a Multiplayer match you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. You won within the constraints of the game, there was no assistance, no modified adVANTAGE.
After I logged around 4 hours playing with the SCUF Vantage controller I immediately switched back to the PS4 standard controller and played another hour or so of multiplayer matches in The Last of Us Remastered. I could feel the difference. I could also tell when I was going up against a player that had a SCUF or modified controller. If anything, me using the SCUF Vantage allowed me the experience to verify my initial thoughts, “This person is using a modified controller.” For that I’m grateful to SCUF.
Is the SCUF Vantage a necessity? No absolutely not. There is no valid reason for anyone that loves video games to purchase a SCUF Vantage controller. (Unless you have a disability and the SCUF controller allows you to enjoy your hobby.) There is no reason to spend $199.99 on a controller that makes gaming easier for you, because that’s what this does, makes gaming easier. It makes you lazy. I’ve spent countless hours fine tuning muscle memory and twitch reflexes and that experience helps in other aspects of life. The SCUF Vantage controller takes that away from you.
If you have $200 to spend towards gaming, you’re better off buying anywhere from three to five video games. Or, if you need a new controller, go buy up to four (depending on whether or not they’re on sale) standard PS4 Controllers. Heck, I might even be so inclined to suggest the SCUF Infinity 4PS Pro controller as it costs less ($139.95) and uses the PS4 Controller body. For the cost of the SCUF Vantage you can buy the SCUF Infinity 4PS Pro controller and that new game you want.
Shame on you SCUF and Sony for pushing this product as the “purest connection between you and the game.” It is not the purest connection, it is a costly connection that the average gamer can live without. The purest connection is with the standard default equipment.
If Professional Gamers swear by SCUF controllers, and the use of these products are allowed and encouraged in professional gaming, than the Professional Athletes that swear by performance enhancing drugs should be allowed to use (and abuse), maybe it gives them the “purest connection between themselves and their game.”