The PlayStation 5’s DualSense gamepad is an incredible feat of engineering, with a mind-boggling array of features for a console’s stock controller, even compared to the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons. It’s also almost odd, as Sony has been less welcoming of third-party controllers than either Microsoft or Nintendo. I say almost, because there is an alternative: the Scuf Reflex series of gamepads.
Scuf offers three controllers that work with the PlayStation 5, and they’re effectively built on the same platform as the DualSense. Two of them, the $199.99 Reflex and the $229.99 Reflex Pro, have all the features of the DualSense, including adaptive triggers (the most expensive model, the $259.99 Reflex FPS , lack of adaptive triggers as well as vibration, in favor of instant triggers for better performance in first-person shooters) and programmable rear paddles. We tested the Reflex Pro, and it did indeed act like a DualSense with some welcome improvements. However, it is very expensive, especially when it has fewer customization options than the $179.99 Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, the $99.99 Victrix Gambit Dual-Core Tournament Controller, or the $99.99 8Bitdo Pro 2. $49.99. Although to be fair, none of these controllers work with the PlayStation 5.
(Photo: Will Greenwald)
Paddles on a DualSense
The Reflex Pro looks and feels almost exactly the same as the DualSense, sharing the same long, curved grips and large trapezoidal touchpad. Even the directional pad, face buttons and triggers are effectively identical to those of the DualSense, with the only visual distinction from the front being the circular home button instead of a PlayStation logo-shaped button.
You’ll get another hint of the difference between the Reflex Pro and the DualSense by pulling on the front tips of the grips. The plastic panel under the touchpad and between the outer grips detaches, allowing you to remove the convex analog sticks and replace them with the concave thumbsticks also included with the controller. Both sets of sticks are black plastic with rubber-coated tips, and while they seem very light in the box, they’re exceptionally secure when snapped into place. The tips feature pleasing two-tone textures with smooth centers and slightly ridged sides that allow you to keep your thumb angled in a given position when pushing the stick from the edge.
The back of the Reflex Pro is where the controller really stands out. A large bump near the top of the controller houses four programmable paddle buttons that extend against the inside curves of the grips. When holding the Reflex, your middle fingers naturally sit between the two paddles on either side, allowing you to easily pull four of them at any time. They are much more comfortably laid out than the four vertical paddles on the back of the Scuf Vantage.
You can physically remove any of the paddles by pulling them firmly out of their holes on the bump. The bump itself does not come off, but it is in the natural “dead zone” between where the index fingers rest on the triggers and the middle finger rests on the grips. In fact, I didn’t even notice it when I played. The paddles themselves are simple solid functional black plastic levers, but not quite the metal paddles of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller.
The handles of the Reflex Pro distinguish it from the normal Reflex. They are textured to make the controller easier to hold than the smooth grips of the Reflex. That’s the only real difference between the two controllers, though, and probably isn’t worth the extra $30 for most people.
Manual programming with few options
A button on the rear hump toggles between three control profiles, glowing blue, red or green to indicate mode. Each profile includes presets for FPS games (all face buttons), sports games (left and right d-pad, and circle and square), and racing games (all d-pad buttons), but you can manually reprogram any palette for any mode and set create your own profiles. Reprogramming palettes is a manual, but simple affair: hold down the profile button until it flashes, then press the palette you’re mapping and the button you want to activate at the same time.
(Photo: Will Greenwald)
That brings us to one of the Reflex’s biggest disappointments: there’s no customization software. Your only control settings are the rear paddle mapping, and they have to be set manually. You can’t remap other controls, adjust sensitivity curves for analog sticks or triggers, or program macros. These features aren’t available on the DualSense either, but the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller has these features, as does the 8Bitdo Pro 2 and the Victrix Gambit. A gamepad this expensive should have these options.
Besides the detachable paddles and alternate concave analog sticks (one short, one long), the Reflex only comes with a cloth-wrapped USB cable. No carrying case is included, disappointing to see in a controller over $200.
The Scuf Reflex Pro is designed for use with the PlayStation 4 and can be connected via Bluetooth to iOS devices, Macs and Windows PCs. However, it registers as a DirectInput controller rather than an XInput controller on Windows, which means you’ll have to rely on Steam’s PlayStation Compatibility Mode or separate software like DS4Windows.
The lack of software doesn’t hurt the hardware, though, and the Reflex Pro is fantastic. The textured grips and stick caps are a nice improvement on the standard DualSense, which was already an amazing controller. The rear paddles are comfortable and reliable, and ergonomically fit the middle fingers.
Play on PlayStation 5
Everything else about the Reflex Pro is identical to the DualSense, including Sony’s awesome new controller features, which I tested with Astro’s Playroom on the PlayStation 5. Adaptive triggers offer variable sensitivity and pull distance by depending on the game and the situation. , the rumble is just as subtle and precise, and the built-in speaker is as loud and clear as a speaker of this size can get.
(Photo: Will Greenwald)
I played Horizon Forbidden West with the Reflex Pro and the gamepad worked perfectly. It behaved like the DualSense, down to rumble and adaptive triggers. The game’s control layout seems complete with no rear triggers, so I removed them for testing, which made the Reflex feel almost exactly like an original DualSense.
Soul games tend to benefit from rear triggers due to in-game inputs for weapon swapping, so I also played Elden Ring with the Reflex Pro. I assigned the far left and far right rear triggers to L3 and R3 to control crouch and lock on enemies, and the left and right middle triggers to the left and right inputs on the d-pad to me switch between weapons in my right hand and between shield, bow and torch in my left hand. The controller worked as expected, allowing me to keep my thumbs on the thumbsticks while swapping gear, which I otherwise couldn’t do in-game.
An overly expensive alternative
The Scuf Reflex Pro is a nice upgrade from the original DualSense, but that’s not a big deal. Of course, Sony has already packed a surprising number of advanced features into its PlayStation 5 controller, and there might not be much more to it. The rear paddles are practical and the interchangeable thumbsticks are pleasantly textured. Otherwise, the Reflex Pro is almost indistinguishable from the DualSense. That doesn’t really justify spending more than three times as much as the DualSense, especially when the Reflex Pro doesn’t come with a case and lacks an app for further customization.
Still, there aren’t any gamepads outside of the Reflex and Reflex Pro that do all the DualSense can do, and it’s worth considering if you want a bumper upgrade. back to the standard PS5 controller. If you want to play on Xbox, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller remains one of our favorites, and the 8Bitdo Pro 2 is our pick for Nintendo Switch gamepads. The Elite has more interchangeable parts and a case, while the Pro 2 costs less than the standard DualSense. Both controllers have apps for even more tweaks and can be used on PCs without relying on driver wrappers or customization modes. The Victrix Gambit Dual Core Tournament Controller is another good choice for PC and Xbox, although it’s wired rather than wireless. For the PS5, however, your choices so far are the DualSense and the Reflex.
The Scuf Reflex Pro is one of the few fully functional alternatives to the DualSense. It does everything the stock PlayStation 5 controller does, and a bit more, but that doesn’t justify it costing three times as much.
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