The Best Fighting-Game Controllers for PS4, Xbox One and PC
Fighting games have seen a huge resurgence this console generation. Since the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One, we've seen returns to classic fighting franchises, like Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition and Tekken 7, as well as exciting new franchises, such as Dragon Ball FighterZ. And there's more to come, from long-awaited sequels such as Soul Calibur VI to cool indie fighters like Punch Planet.
But if you're tired of watching the pros play on Twitch and actually want to start competing seriously, we recommend acquiring a good fight stick or controller. And with so many options on the market, it can seem overwhelming for any newcomer. Here's a rundown of some of the best controllers for throwing out hadoukens like a master.
What to consider
Buying a fight stick will not make you the King of Fighters. Quite the contrary. Learning how to use a fight stick takes time, and depending on your familiarity with using one, your experience can vary greatly. Luckily, many companies are starting to understand that many younger gamers have grown up with D-pads, dual analog sticks and keyboards, and thus now give players more options.
Credit: Bandai Namco
Pad Warrior: Hori Fighting Commander (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Average Amazon review: 4 stars
For gamers who grew up on PlayStation and Xbox controllers, any fightstick, even a stickless box, might be a bit too foreign. Luckily, Hori has a pad option optimized for fighting games. In lieu of a thumbstick is a standard D-pad, and instead of the standard four face buttons are six, all there for a quick smacking of the thumb. It's easily the best fight pad on the market. Granted, there really isn't much competition.
The Default: Standard PS4 or Xbox One Controller
Average Amazon rating: 4.5 stars
More top players are opting to use a traditional game controller as opposed to a fancy stick or stickless box. Games like Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition are more tuned for pad players, and Dragon Ball FighterZ works surprisingly well on a standard controller. The newer PS4 controllers, which have a small strip of light on the touchpad, have less latency when connected via USB as well.
Old-School Cool: Original PlayStation Controller + Brook PS2/PS1 Adapter (PlayStation 4)
There are still a few fighting-game players who prefer to use the original PlayStation controller. No, not the dual-shock with its analog sticks, like the first PlayStation controller. At this point, it's more of a novelty to show up at tournament with a PS1 controller, but a player did win Evolution 2014 in Ultra Street Fighter IV using the old gray pad. And thanks to the popular Brook converter (which comes in a variety of flavors for just about any controller), you can make that happen.
The Stick-Curious: Hori Fighting Stick Mini 4 (PS4, PS3, PC)
Average Amazon rating: 4 stars
Top-tier fight sticks can easily jump past $200. But if you just want to ease yourself into the world of fight sticks, Hori's Fighting Mini 4 is a great jumping-off point. At $50, it doesn't have the fanciest buttons or the smoothest gate, but it gets the job done. It's light and portable, but its size is also. one of the biggest knocks against it: It's far too small for many fighting-game players. Having a wide area is really important to many players, as it gives buttons adequate spacing and ample room for wrists to sit on. So, only jump on this if you don't want to drop a lot of cash.
The Porsche: Razer Panthera (PS4, PS3, PC)
Average Amazon rating: 4.5 stars
If you want some serious hardware, look no further than the Razer Panthera. This is a popular stick among many fighting-game pros, mainly for the smoothness of its gate, ample room, use of Sanwa Denshi buttons and an easy-to-open board. And, of course, it's fully customizable. The PCB (printed circuit board) is also flashable, meaning that Razer can push out updates that you can download, and make the stick even better. The only downside is a purely cosmetic one: It's very difficult to change the art. Many fighting-game players love to update the art on their fight sticks, making it their own. While it is possible on the Panthera, it's a lot of work. Razer also has a slightly more expensive Xbox One version called the Atrox.
The Ferrari: Qanba Dragon (PS4, PS3, PC)
Average Amazon rating: 4.5 stars
There are plenty of high-quality fight sticks that cost less than the Qanba Dragon, but very few look quite as good. The Dragon is a 10-pound aluminum beast. It's incredibly sturdy and will not squeak or creak after hundreds of hours of play. Of course, it uses a Sanwa Denshi stick and buttons and is fully customizable.
The Stickless Newcomer: Hit Box (PS4, PS3, Xbox One, PC)
Many gamers who were born in the '90s never really got a chance to see the heyday of the arcades. For them, using a stick can be daunting. Luckily, there's the Hit Box, a stickless arcade box. The three buttons where the stick should be are left, down and right. That means that, for example, doing a half-circle motion would simply require hitting all three buttons in succession. You use the larger button on the bottom to jump. It's a shared button that can easily be hit with either thumb, kind of like a spacebar on a keyboard. The rest of the Hit Box is fairly standard compared to other fightsticks. The PS4 version of the Hit Box tends to sell out, so jump on it fast.
Credit: Hit Box
Via Hit Box Arcade
Arrow-Key King: Mixbox (PS4, PS3, PC)
The Mixbox brings a unique spin to the standard fight stick. Instead of using a stick, it uses mechanical Cherry MX key switches for movement, like the ones found on mechanical keyboards. The rest of the box is standard Sanwa Denshi button fare. The Mixbox is best for gamers who grew up playing fighters on a keyboard, but it has the added convenience of having a standard fighting-game button layout.
Via Mixbox Arcade
The Typist: Mechanical keyboard + Brook Sniper Converter: (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
This might seem like an odd choice, but there are a few players who got their start playing fighting games on PC and have stuck with it. While playing Street Fighter V on PC is no problem, it's at console-based tournaments where keyboard players run into trouble. While the PS4 does support keyboard, it doesn't work as well in-game. That's where the Brook Sniper Converter comes in. Using an app, it can map the keyboard buttons to something a PS4 can read.