Although we've seen plenty of luxurious alternatives to the standard DualShock 4 controller, Sony, surprisingly we might add, never followed in the footsteps of Microsoft and never released an Elite controller variant. We have to say, we have long-wished that Sony had done just that. Instead, extra functionality for those who want it comes from brands such as Scuf, Razer and Astro, and even though that's great, there's nothing quite as special as when the platform holder itself innovates with new hardware.
That made it even more surprising when Sony unveiled the so-called DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment out of the blue. The gadget is supposed to add Elite-like functionality to the standard DualShock 4 controller by adding extra input options. It's a bizarre and half-hearted move in the right direction, to say the least, but at the low price of £29.99, is it worth the money?
Officially, the Back Button Attachment is an extension, an extra module that uses the bottom ports on the standard DualShock 4, i.e. the port you'd normally use to charge the controller via a stand or connect to a headset. Connecting the attachment is a bit trickier than one might think, and when we first took it out of its box we had a hard time understanding exactly how it would fit the controller despite its simple functionality. This may sound like a weak complaint, but as it's supposed to appeal to all PlayStation gamers wanting a fast and easy variant of a premium controller, from the Call of Duty enthusiast to the Fortnite pro, it's frustrating that we had to twist the plastic chassis of the controller to make the attachment fit into place.
The design feels a bit clumsy as well. Sure, it fits the curves of the DualShock 4, but the middle part of the module sticks out quite a bit, so if the user has big hands then the module makes it hard to fit those hands around the controller. The two extra programmable buttons on the back don't make the attachment feel any better either as the prominent paddle-substitutes end up sitting right where your ring-fingers usually rest during play.
The attachment doesn't offer any additional practicality, that's for sure, but the functionality is quite cool. The module requires no interaction with an application and instead works solely via a small panel in between the two 'paddles'. By holding your finger on the panel, you can easily choose which button the two paddles should duplicate, meaning you can program them to act as anything from Options to R3. You can also make strings of certain commands, i.e. macros. In third-person games, for example, it lets you recharge without losing control of the camera or your movement. Basically, the attachment gives the user a solid new way of controlling and giving commands, and at a cost of just £29.99, you'll get a great deal of functionality for your buck.
In addition, the buttons feel quite comfortable to press, and even though the controller becomes a bit uncomfortable to hold, it remains quite robust, even with the module plugged in. There's a reason that we brought up Microsoft's Elite controller earlier, as the Back Button Attachment feels like a pseudo-solution to a very real problem. When creating the gadget, comfort has been sacrificed to a great extent, so why not just design a controller that has the technology built into it? It all feels like half a step in the right direction and when compared to what its competitors are doing at the upper end of the scale, it simply isn't on-par.
However, what we can say, is that a standard DualShock 4 - a controller that you most likely already own if you're reading this - and the module combined cost a lot less than an Astro C40, for example. Thus, offering the amount of functionality that it does is more than acceptable for the price. We'd still like to ask Sony to get started on manufacturing an actual Elite controller, though. Thanks.