There are several options. Lot of video game controllers. There are good ones and bad ones, naturally. A controller can be held by almost anyone who can instantly tell you if it feels good. But why is this so? What makes a controller useful?

In my opinion, and this is a very unprofessional one, there are three essential elements that make a controller worthwhile to use: build quality, button layout, and bells and whistles. The ideal modern controller incorporates all three elements.

Building quality is a complicated conversation. Every controller is sturdy until it breaks, so it’s hard to say which ones are actually well-built. The Nintendo Switch Joy-Con, however, is a terrible modern controller. The two-split controllers designed primarily for use in the console’s handheld mode look nice, but in five years, I’ve cycled through more than I can count. They keep falling apart. Drop them a couple of times, play too rough with them, squint at them too hard… anything out of the ordinary will obliterate the Joy-Con. 

Nintendo is losing the battle for build quality. Its competitors are all much more competent. The Xbox Series X|S controller. I’ve been using one on my PC for months, and it’s become a staple of my backpack. It’s been dropped and mishandled, I admit, but it’s stood up to the abuse shockingly well.

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The layout of the buttons is up to you. The PlayStation 5 DualSense is my choice. Sony got it right in the ‘90s and every PlayStation controller since has been laid out more or less identically. My fingers feel perfectly aligned on the joysticks. The X-button is distracting to my Nintendo-addled brain. However, using symbols for the rest of buttons feels natural. This all comes down to the individual.

To a normal person, bells and whistles are the least important part a controller. They’re the icing on the cake. I think like an eight-year old, and I lick the icing from my cake. This is my most important category. For a long time, I figured you couldn’t get sillier than a pair of Joy-Con. It’s a controller split down the middle with motion controls and “HD rumble,”This is what really matters in one terrible party game (1-2 Switch). In 2017, it was the platonic ideal of bells and whistles, a striking response to Xbox’s long-time “make sure it works” philosophy. But now, Sony’s DualSense has a rumble system to rival Nintendo’s, a touchpad that’s entirely useless and triggers that can literally resist a player’s touch. Necessary? No. But these are all fundamentally toys, and from that perspective, it’s tough to get better than the DualSense.

DualSense is my favorite controller. It feels good in the hand, it’s full of silly features, and it looks damn good. A video game controller can be likened to a Starbucks order: I love mine but others might find it offensive. Everybody has their own tastes, so finding the right controller is about knowing what you want.

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Sorrel Krüger-Jung is a sophomore studying virtuality game development at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions expressed by the columnist are not necessarily those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Sorrel via Twitter: @sorrelkj.


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