There are few things worse than finding yourself with just one opponent left. A deathly tango ensues as you both pepper each other with lead, only to have to take your finger off the analogue stick at a crucial moment to reload. In this brief moment, as you race your thumb back to the stick to get them in your sights again, it's too late, you've been dominated, and no one ever remembers who came in second place.
For several years now, those lucky enough to own one of the expensive specialty pro controllers have had a slight edge over the rest, with their access to extra programmable buttons. The price of entry has always been too high for some, so Sony has introduced an option that negates the need to buy a fancy new controller. With the introduction of the DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment, everyone (provided you are willing to fork out $69.99) can enjoy the benefits of remappable buttons.
As far as usability goes, the DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment plugs into the existing headphone jack and EXT port. It can feel a bit tricky to get it in the right position at times, as you need to line it up and push it in at the right angle. A fair bit of finesse is required to get it in. It's only a minor issue as once you've attached it, it's highly unlikely you'll ever remove it.
When it comes to the feel of the DS4, no other controller feels more at home in my seasoned hands, and the Back Button Attachment doesn't change the ergonomic feel too drastically. You may have to play around a bit with your hand and finger positioning to get it just right, but it quickly became second nature for me. It's reasonably light also at 25 grams, so won't give you any grief during those epic ten-hour gaming sessions.
Where it does lag slightly behind the competition is in the actual mapping of buttons. To change the layout, you'll need to hold down the big circle button on the back. Doing so reveals an OLED screen, in which you cycle between the sixteen potential mappable buttons. It can be a bit tedious when you accidentally go past the button you were after, forcing you to press the button further sixteen times to go back through all of the options. Other pro controllers have this feature nailed and handle it much more simply, but those same controllers can set you back a few hundred dollars, so it's a trade-off I am willing to take.
Thankfully, once you've figured out your desired mapping configuration, you can save the combination in one of the three available profiles. It would have been great to get a few more profiles, as it can be a slight annoyance jumping between a bunch of games and having to start the process over again. To change profiles, it's as easy as pressing the OLED button twice.
When in use, the Back Button Attachment is a real game-changer. It feels sturdy and excellently made, with the button presses requiring far less travel than the standard face buttons and triggers. This makes mapping melee attacks or jumps pure bliss when playing. It makes a serious difference to how fast you can react and respond and has you keeping those important aiming and moving thumbs where they are needed all of the time. Playing games like Titanfall or Call of Duty with the attachment almost feels like cheating at times. It almost immediately feels like you game better as you can keep aiming while jumping and lobbing grenades, without sacrificing precious seconds of aim-time. I play a lot of The Division 2 and couldn't be happier with being able to map my specials which are typically allocated to the d-pad, to the back buttons. It always frustrated me that I would have to take my thumb off the movement stick during intense fights, but that problem is now a thing of the past.
Another aspect of the modified controller I was not expecting but am thrilled about is the reduced amount of wrist and finger pain. More often than not in the past, I've struggled with some games that require a lot of thumb presses and generally get sore hands within about an hour of playing. While it hasn't wholly alleviated it, I can now game for a fair while longer than before, now that my thumb isn't having to jump from the analogue sticks to the face buttons constantly.
When it comes to value for money, the DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment is superb. While it doesn't quite offer the full suite of features seen on professional controllers, it provides a tangible upgrade to your existing controller. It feels excellent to use and will have you pulling off some of your best gaming moments. Build quality is equally phenomenal and the extra buttons feel and function amazingly. At only $69.99, I can't recommend it highly enough.
Whether you suffer from hand/finger/wrist fatigue or pain, or just want to enjoy the benefits of programmable buttons, you can't go wrong. Here's hoping this comes standard with the DualShock 5 as I can't ever see myself willingly going back to the standard controller layout. For this review, I was provided a loan unit, and after sending it back I promptly went and purchased my own. If you've been toying with the idea of buying one of the $300 plus custom pro-controls, I'd highly recommend trying out the DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment before hand, as it works incredibly and is significantly less harsh on the wallet.
+ Improves your game regardless of skill level.
+ Sleek design.
+ Feels great in-hand.
+ Doesn't effect battery life too much.
+ Excellent build-quality.
+Snappy button travel distance.