People are prepared to pay vastly different amounts for quality. For some, $80 for a standard Xbox or PlayStation controller is enough, while the $200 for an Elite is pushing it. Others might be happy to pay $300 or $400 on headphones, but would never spend more than $100 on a gaming mouse.
It's a tricky business, peripherals. And that's the problem facing the SCUF Infinity1 and Infinity4PS, controllers that start at $220 and go up to a staggering $320.
What Is It?
While Xbox fans and PC players have been able to enjoy the luscious, rubberised grips and magnetic thumbsticks of the Elite controller for a while now, Sony has shown no desire to start manufacturing higher-end pads.
And while you can get other controllers going with the PS4, that introduces another set of problems. There's nothing more annoying than having your controller drop out or start spinning around mid-fight because your precious dongle suddenly lost connection.
So SCUF has a solution: its professional-grade competitive controllers, complete with customisable thumbsticks, extended triggers with a key for adjusting the tension (on certain models), a magnet for button mapping, and customisable hand grips. The Infinity4PS is SCUF's PS4 controller, while the Infinity1 pad is for the Xbox One. You can use both with the PC, as they connect via standard Micro USB, and both are wireless.
The level of customisation you get, however, depends on how much you spend. The basic SCUF controllers start at $220 and come with back paddles (2 for the PS4, 4 for the Xbox One), removable thumbstick rings, batteries and thumbsticks. (If you get the cheapest SCUF controller for Xbox One, it only has standard Xbox One thumbsticks instead of the domed ones SCUF produces.)
If you want a basic SCUF controller in a different colour, you'll have to pay between $260-270. Want a SCUF controller that lets you remap the paddles and adjust the tension of the triggers? Those cost $270 or $280 depending on the platform. And if you want a less boring version of those in red, camo green or something else, it'll cost up to $320.
Other accessories are available, but they don't come cheap. Adjustable trigger and pro grips for the Xbox One controller? $44.95. Different thumbsticks for SCUF's PS4 pad, including ones closer to those you get on the standard DualShock 4, will set you back $34.95. None of the controllers come packaged with a carrying case - that's an extra $30. And 10ft braided Micro-USB charging cables will set you back $30 as well.
What's It Good At?
Having paddles is, by default, an immediate upgrade over the standard PS4 controller. The paddles are bound to X and O, however, and they can't be rebound without the special magnet that comes with the more expensive Pro controller. That's not a problem in games with in-built key remapping, or multiple configurations like Halo and Call of Duty.
The expensive custom Pro controller ships with the aforementioned magnet. But provided you avoid any accidents, it's actually a much faster process than rebinding controls through an app (like you do with the Xbox Elite controller).
All you have to do, at any time, is simply place the magnet on the dedicated spot on the back of the controller until it latches. After that you press the paddle you want to rebind, and then you press the key that you want it bound to. You then release the key and the paddle and put the magnet away. That's it. It's not as exhaustive as the remapping available on the Elite controller, but it's a much faster process that can be done in the middle of a game if necessary.
Replacing the thumbsticks and adjusting the hair triggers is simple enough. All of the controllers ship with a ring lock to remove the thumbsticks, and from there it's just a matter of dropping in the sticks you want and removing the ones you don't.
The paddles are well placed, at least on the PS4 model. Rather than going across, they run vertically on either side of the battery pack on the back of the controller. It explains why the Infinity4PS only has two paddles, compared to the Infinity1's four. The extra two paddles make the Infinity1 feel fairly cramped and uncomfortable to hold, so less is definitely more in this instance. You can unclip the paddles if you like, though.
It's handy to have something that feels like a standard DualShock 4, but comes with extra functionality. There's a practical reason for wanting a native PS4 controller too: the sensitivity curves and acceleration on the Xbox One/Elite controllers is different to that of the DualShock 4, and consequently the Infinity4PS. That's not a distinction that most people will care about, but it matters if you have years of baked in experience playing a particular game (like Call of Duty) and you don't want to lose your edge.
The sticks on both the Infinity1 and the Infinity4PS are a little looser than you may be used to. It allows for finer adjustments once you become accustomed to it. The convex domes that come standard on the SCUF sticks are quite comfortable too; I thought they'd be a little tricky to handle compared to regular PS4 and Xbox One controllers, but I stopped noticing them after a couple of days.
It's something worth considering: if you want a tournament-grade control pad for the PS4, the Infinity4PS is actually the cheapest option. It might only cost $200 or so to get an Elite to your door, but you'll have to pay another $100 or more to get the CronusMAX/Titan One/XIM4 offerings so you can use it with the PS4. That doesn't apply if you're just looking for an all-purpose pad to use across your PC and consoles, but if you're a console-only player it's worth considering.
What's It Not Good At?
Let's not beat around the bush - regardless of what SCUF controller you buy, you're paying a lot. Even the most basic model costs more than the Elite. Even the REVOLUTION Pro Controller has adjustable weights, four back buttons and a storage pouch - all for $180, less than the Elite, and a lot less than the $270-280 black Infinity1/Infinity4PS Pro models.
The majority of the SCUF controllers, regardless of platform, are made out of military-grade plastic. It's sturdy enough, but it doesn't feel anywhere near as nice in the hand as the rubberised grip on the back of the Elite controller, or the new Xbox One S pad.
It also feels a little too DIY. Take the back grips. They're removed and replaced through a plastic paddle that wedges between the grip and the side of the controller, until you leverage it off. It's a pretty low-rent option for a controller that costs as much as it does, and you have to wonder why SCUF couldn't manufacture a more elegant solution.
In that sense, the Elite controller wipes the floor with the Infinity1. It's better engineered and has far more customsiations that matter. It doesn't make sense, for instance, for the back paddles to default to X and O when the majority of shooters use L3 and R3 to sprint, melee or other options. And in games that don't have remappable buttons, or limited preset configs, it's effectively a waste.
If you're interested in the Infinity1 or Infinity4PS controllers, you have to spend $260 at a minimum. And even then you might take issue with a few things: the length of the modified triggers, for instance, could be uncomfortable for gamers with smaller hands. The paddles take a little getting used to as well, requiring more force to press than those on the Elite.
The SCUF's target market, then, will be the highly charged world of esports. And competitive players are more than happy to fork out for better quality, but there's little about the Infinity1 or Infinity4PS that fits that bill.
Should You Buy It?
The answer to this is two-fold. First: if you're primarily an Xbox One player or looking for a control pad to use across all platforms, there's no reason to consider the Infinity1. Given that a universal controller doesn't exist anyway, you might as well buy the best bang for buck on the market - and that's still the Elite controller.
If you're after the best controller to use with your PS4, it's still the Elite. But if you want to eliminate the cost and potential frustration of failing middleman hardware, you might be better off waiting to try Nacon's REVOLUTION Pro controller instead. The REVOLUTION Pro's main drawback is that it's wired and the thumbsticks are offset, but it's also only $180.
If that doesn't work for you, and you need a native controller that will work regardless, and you're a heavy tournament player - then you should start to consider the Infinity4PS Pro (not the basic).
My main gripe is that, while it's an improvement and a perfectly fine pad on its own, neither the SCUF Infinity4PS or Infinity1 feels like good value. One of the most crucial features costs an extra $40 to $50, because of an absurd decision to bind the paddles to two of the most used face buttons on a control pad. Other accessories that come standard with other controllers, like a case or additional sticks, are sold at $30 or more.
Customers deserve better. But if you can't tolerate offset thumbsticks and you absolutely, positively must have something that is as close as possible to the DualShock 4 but better - then there, quite literally, is no other reasonable competitor to the Infinity4PS Pro controller. But that market is exceedingly narrow. Seasoned gamers who baulked at the price of the Elite will find it even harder to justify SCUF's offerings, and those who can afford them would be well advised to shop around.
This story originally appeared on Kotaku