Meet the HexGaming Ultimate, a PlayStation 5 controller that gives you the best of both worlds.
It contains the guts of a real PlayStation 5 DualSense controller but thanks to mappable paddles and interchangeable thumbsticks, it’s also a pro controller that can give you an edge in solo or online shooters. Sound familiar? It should, because the HexGaming Rival, which I gave a thumbs up to when I got my hands on it earlier this year, sports similar features.
The main difference is that the HexGaming Ultimate sports four reprogrammable mappable paddles, compared to the Rival’s two. That doesn’t sound like a lot but in the right game, and with the right functions mapped to each paddle, those extra two “shortcuts” can make one hell of a difference.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. One of the biggest changes HexGaming has made has nothing to do with the controller. Instead, it relates to its website’s create-your-own controller feature. The ability to customise your own controller’s look was kind of cool when I took the Rival for a spin but the company has at least doubled the controller patterns on offer.
The cannabis leaf pattern is still there, but there’s a wealth of other designs, which’ll cost you extra. But given that the controller, which is firmly aimed at the pro market, costs a minimum of $199.99 anyway, it could well be worth splashing a bit more to make the controller “yours”. Predictably, I’ll admit, I went for the zombie design, and it’s exceptionally eye-catching.
You can buy the trigger kits, shells and so on individually from HexGaming (who is itself an Extreme Rate brand) but based on my experience with those kits, you’ll need a very, very steady hand to successfully install them. Given the risk of turning your DualSense into a paperweight, I’d rather a professional install them. Putting two extra paddles on a controller would be a trial; the prospect of adding four, with wires the width of spider silk, just makes my brain hurt.
So, with HexGaming/ExtremeRate doing the work (for a price), how does the Ultimate controller hold up? Like the Rival before it, very, very well. The fact that the controller is built around the internals of an actual DualSense means you’re getting a quality PlayStation 5 pad from the get-go. The interchangeable thumbsticks are a welcome step up from the official DualSense sticks, and swapping them out with the provided concave sticks is a piece of cake. That said, after putting them through their paces, I found the standard ones by far the most comfortable.
However, I do take issue with the fact that, while the Ultimate (like the Rival) comes with six thumbsticks, there are only two pairs. Confused? I don’t blame you. Here’s what you get with the Ultimate, including the two already fitted:
- 2 x standard length textured concave thumbsticks
- 2 x standard length smooth convex thumbsticks
- 1 x long textured concave thumbstick
- 1 x long smooth convex thumbstick
So if you just buy one controller and like the feel of the longer thumbsticks you’ll have to mix the concave and convex ones. I’m not privy to HexGaming’s manufacturing costs but throwing in two more thumbsticks, to allow you to make a pair of long concave or long convex sticks seems like such a little thing.
But that’s the worst thing I have to say about the Ultimate. I opted for the hair trigger feature this time around, which makes the triggers super, super sensitive due to the tiny travel distance. The trade-off is that you can’t make use of the triggers’ adaptive feature, but most game should give you an option to meddle with that. I’m sure the quicker reaction time saved my life a few times in Fortnite.
Fortnite? Yes, Fortnite. That was the Ultimate’s chief testing ground. I put its through its paces with some other titles – Deathloop and Returnal – but Fortnite was where this controller came into its own. Why? Because, thanks to the four paddle buttons I was able to assign each d-pad direction to a paddle. Without lifting my fingers from the triggers, I could switch weapons and even edit.
Sure, moving your figures to the d-pad takes maybe half a second, if that, but if you’re in a serious firefight, that half second can count. And that’s who the HexGaming is aimed at: serious gamers, in particular serious FPS players. There’s nothing to say you can’t use this to smack Hulk Hogan with a chair, and you can assign any single button function to each of the four paddles, but it’s at its best in multiplayer first-person shooters.
So, if you’re a serious gamer, the HexGaming Ultimate is absolutely worth the serious money it costs. It feels great in your hands, has a genuine Sony DualSense at its core and is capable of giving you an edge over the competition. However, Scuf have recently launched its own range of similarly priced pro PlayStation 5 controllers so HexGaming could be in for some competition. Let the controller wars commence.
The HexGaming Ultimate controller is available to purchase from HexGaming’s website. A controller was provided by HexGaming for the purpose of this review.