PDP Official Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1 Wired Controller Review
War. What is it good for? Video games, apparently. And when these EA stablemates somewhat controversially went head to head in a crowded autumn release window, they were both winners. Critically, Titanfall 2 has the edge, but it was close. Less close has been the battle for sales, where by all accounts Titanfall 2 took an undeserved beating from Battlefield 1.
So this battle of the controllers takes on a little extra frisson – who will win in this rematch?
Actually, that’s a bit misleading. Both the PDP Official Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 Wired Controllers are functionally identical – so ultimately which one you choose comes down to looks. And we’ll come to that a bit later.
First, though, other than a fancy paint job, what distinguishes these controllers from the official ones? Well, there are a few things.
Retailing for US$59.99 – ten bucks more than a standard wireless controller and in the same ball park as some of the special editions – these offerings from PDP are wired only, but offer a couple of intriguing extra functions.
First – and as with the official controllers – there’s a 3.5mm audio jack built in. More interestingly, though, there’s on-board audio control. Holding down a small triangular button just under the right thumb stick allows you to control the audio using the D-pad; up and down raises and lowers the volume, whilst left and right adjusts the balance between game and chat audio. All this is helpfully signposted by embossed icons on the D-pad. We love on-board audio controls – though here you have to let go of both analogue sticks to make the adjustments, so this is maybe a between-round feature, rather than mid-game. Still, it’s a nice feature to have.
Flip the controller over and you’ll see some weird buttons and dials on the underside. The button in the centre allows the two multi-function-wheels to be programmed to replicate any of the other commands. The multi-function-wheels each rotate up and down a few degrees, and can be pressed in. That’s a total of six extra functions that can be programmed – so two more than on an Elite Controller, for example. Programming is simple and can be done on the fly. Simply press the program button in the centre, activate the function of the multi-function-wheel we want to programme (up, down or ‘in’) and then press the action (D-pad direction, face button, trigger, shoulder button or analogue click) you want to map onto the multi-function-wheel.
The usefulness of such versatility is now well documented – remapping awkward thumb stick clicks, or enabling actions to be carried out without taking your thumbs off the sticks – can give you an edge, particularly in the FPS arena. If you have used an Elite controller you’ll know just how easy to use the underside paddles are. But how do PDP’s multi-function-wheels compare?
It’s fair to say they take a little getting used to – but so did the paddles the first time we tried them out. In practice, rotating the multi-function-wheels up or down is fast and intuitive, once you train your fingers and develop that muscle memory. It never felt quite as fast as a paddle-press, but close enough. Less useful was pushing in the wheel to access that third function – there feels like there’s just a little too much travel required. In the end, though, it wasn’t too much of a problem – our small brains can just about cope with four relocated buttons, but six? In truth, we struggled to think of more than four functions to usefully remap.
The multi-function-wheels are placed in the right spot to sit comfortably beneath your middle fingers. In fact, many will feel the wheels are a lot less obtrusive than the Elite paddles – and consequently you’re less likely to hit them accidentally (and leap out of cover to your bullet-riddled death).
The rest of the controller feels nice in the hand. Being wired – and with no need for batteries or a battery pack – the PDP controller is much lighter than a standard wireless, and correspondingly featherweight compared to the Elite. Analogue sticks are generally smooth and have the same length of travel as the official pad. The thumbstick click felt a little two-stage to us – there was a very small amount of travel under light pressure before hitting the ‘top’ of the click itself, which then needed about the same amount of pressure to achieve the click as on a standard controller. The rotation of the stick was smooth, though we did feel a couple of tiny points on the circumference of each stick that was less smooth.
These are wired controllers – the supplied 10-foot long braided micro USB cable is sturdy and slots neatly into the recessed USB port on the front of the controller. The design of the cable and the recessed port helps reduce stress at the connection point, and should hopefully preserve the life of the port – an area we’ve always had concerns about on standard controllers. Be warned, though – the two are designed to function as one, which means some heavy-duty third-party cables may not plug into the controller simply because they may not fit into the recess. We think that’s a small price to pay, though, for increased toughness in this fragile area, while the length of the cable should minimise any cable worries you may have.
Overall, the controller’s pleasant to hold – although the lightness takes a little bit of getting used to, but build quality feels rock solid. A combined 60+ hours of testing has yet to result in a single creak from either controller. A few uninterrupted hours of gaming can elicit some sweaty palms, but both controllers stayed put in the heat of battle.
Aesthetically, the Battlefield 1 controller is very pretty. Designed to pay homage to the machinery of the Great War, the controller has a wood and steel design that’s clean and precise. The handles of the controller are finished in a grippy, soft-feel plastic that’s printed with wood grain (suddenly, we thought about high end controllers carved out of gorgeous, natural cherry wood) whilst the main body of the controller is finished in steel grey, with the Battlefield 1 logo picked out in silver. The wood effect wraps around and covers most of the underside of the controller, giving the whole thing a pleasingly grippy exterior. The internal curve – where the audio jack is, and where your gripping fingers rest – is a smooth gloss black.
The Titanfall 2 controller is, if anything, even more detailed – and while we love the familiar markings we’d have loved separate IMC and Militia-themed alternatives. The controller, though, is a perfect match for the PDP Titanfall 2 Wired Headsets – available in full stereo and chat audio formats.
Both controllers are boxed nicely, too – a gatefold window box that offers an ideal way to display your controller for the inevitable shelfies.
These PDP controllers make a convincing argument to replace your standard wireless controller, if you don’t need wireless. We love the on-board audio and are really pleased there’s been some thought from PDP on beefing up the controller/cable interface. The multi-function wheels are a little bit harder to get used to than paddles, but if you’re not an Elite user then these PDP offerings deliver similar levels of functionality for half the price.
The PDP Official Titanfall2 and Battlefield 1 Wired Controllers are available direct from PDP for $59.99 each. As with the Talon Media Remote, they’re a bit more difficult to find outside the US and Canada. Argos, however stocks both the Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1 controllers – and they’re both 20% off right now – just £39.99 each.
PDP supplied one controller of each design for the purposes of this review. The controllers were tested for over 30 hours each on a variety of titles, including Destiny, Mantis Burn Racing, Tennis in the Face, and – unsurprisingly – Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2.
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