The Hex Rival Controller was one of the best, if not the best, pro controller for the PlayStation 5. It intelligently used the DualSense as a base and built from there, allowing users to customize it without sacrificing the unparalleled sturdy foundation of a first-party pad. However, the huge price was a huge barrier as it could cost around four or five times as much as a normal DualSense. The Hex Ultimate Controller, the next iteration of the Rival, has a lot in common with its predecessor, yet has one new feature that comes with an equal amount of pros and cons.
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The base functions and appeal of the controller are still the same. Being a DualSense under the hood means it isn’t complicated to set up nor is it going to feel like a cheap knock-off or have compatibility issues. Building from the DualSense is still a smart decision for those very reasons as other pro controllers often don’t stack up or have some unnecessary fiddly features.
HexGaming’s own inventions that made the Rival great are still here, too. If selected, the Fastshots make all four shoulder buttons into hair triggers, giving a competitive edge to those who primarily play online. R1 and L1 both click in at a half of a millimeter (as opposed to 1.2 millimeters on the regular DualSense) and the triggers activate at 2 millimeters instead of 7 millimeters. This is especially great for rapid firing semi-automatic weapons or anything that rewards faster presses.
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But these still completely nullify the DualSense’s adaptive triggers, killing some key features in select PS5 games like Far Cry 6, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and Returnal. It is still a bit annoying that Hex doesn’t have a toggle that lets players go back and forth between hair triggers and normal triggers since a way to have the best of both worlds would be ideal.
The back paddles are where the Ultimate goes above where the Rival started. It still has two programmable back paddles that can be linked to any other button. However, it also now has two extra buttons on the back in the middle between the two paddles, all of which can be mapped through a simple process that is more intuitive this time around. The extra buttons do give more options to those who want the ability to have more at their fingertips, but, in this case, less is more.
Whereas the paddles aren’t incredibly difficult to accidentally press, the same cannot be said about the buttons. Given how they are at the center where many will probably rest their middle fingers, it can be a little too easy to press them unintentionally. Pressing these two buttons on accident also seems to happen more frequently when shuffling around or when not sitting completely still. They don’t have to be mapped to anything and can be of some added utility, but are a net loss or net neutral addition in most scenarios, which is a slight problem since these buttons are the biggest new feature over the Rival.
The other newer features are more cosmetic and also now apply to the Rival. Hex has added a suite of new paint jobs, options, and materials to those who want to customize their own pad. These include some tacky and downright gaudy options (like the Joker plates) as well as some aesthetically pleasing ones, which is the range these types of build-your-own controllers should have. The rubber grip back is arguably the best and most pleasing grip now as well. However, while not a big deal, it doesn’t appear as though the Ultimate has the same amount of options for its back button, which is small in the grand scheme of all of the other overlapping choices in every other section.
The Hex Ultimate Controller still does not address the two biggest issues with the Rival: the price and the lack of a toggle for the Fastshot triggers. The price just seems more like a “necessary” evil that’s part of the package since the controller is of a high quality. But having no way to both take advantage of the useful Fastshot triggers and adaptive triggers keeps it from truly being the “ultimate” controller that its namesake implies. Even though the two extra back buttons are pros and cons of the Ultimate, the extensive customizability and strong build are still the best parts of Hex’s PS5 controllers and make this super DualSense one of the better options for those who want more and are willing to pay for it.
Disclosure: Controller provided by HexGaming.