I don't remember when I first saw an advertisement for Scuf controllers, but I do remember the excitement I felt as I rushed over to their site and clicked all of the options I wanted for a custom controller. It was like the first time I went to a Las Vegas buffet, rows of rows of food all for the eating. But unlike the buffet, my parents weren't picking up the tab. Inevitably in my excitement of clicking all the boxes to get all the options led to a very high price for a PS4 controller. When the dust settled the quoted price was over $200. I'm pretty sure Scuf would have thrown in a custom engraving of "I'm the idiot who paid over $200 for a custom controller" had I asked them too. But there was a problem, there was no way that this idiot was going to try and convince his wife to spend that much on a controller, no matter what it does. That would have made me even more... idiot-er... idiot-y? Anyway, after the tears and finding out you can't sell your kids on e-bay, I had to go back to my normal old PS4 controller. I even had to learn "bumper jumper" control (like an animal). While I was wallowing in sorrow and unintentionally using supers in Destiny, a small Canadian company released the Strikepack Dominator for the PS4, for only $39.99. I took hope that perhaps some of the coolness Scuf and other custom controllers was now within reach. Again, there was a problem. They were completely, totally out of stock at both Amazon and Gamestop, the only two places in the United States where you can buy them. However, fate smiled upon me recently when I found that a local Gamestop had one in stock. By local, I mean a store in the next county over and less than an hour drive one-way, in good traffic. So this review is literally months in the making. Let's dive in.
What is it?
The Strikepack Dominator is an attachment to a standard PS4 controller. In essence, it mimics the Scufs patented paddle control system. But rather than have straight paddle switches, the people at Collective minds opted for a curved paddle that follows the contour of the PS4's hand grips.
In theory it means a shorter distance between your finger and the paddle and I've found that is true in practice as well. It's just that I don't have a Scuf to do a proper comparison. But the paddle's movement is more of a squeeze to the hand grip than an up and down motion. There's another interesting feature of the Strikepack that I totally discovered on accident. The paddles are not actually attached to the Dominator. They're actually held in place by magnets. I pulled one off when I was unboxing the unit from its very tight plastic molding and was very happy and relieved to find it magnetically snapped back into place. It's a very clever solution that should prevent the accidental drop or the intentional rage throw from destroying it.
Are there any issues?
There are tradeoffs to using the Strikepack. First, it transforms your wireless PS4 controller into a wired controller. The folks at Collectiveminds say that this was done to eliminate the miniscule bluetooth lag between the controller and console and hence, gives you an extra edge. Knowing that his might be an issue, the cable they provide is ten feet long. But if your console to couch distance is more than ten feet, then your rear end is going to have problems. Also, and this is a big one, the USB cable they provide has an unusually narrow end that connects it to the attachment base. What this means is that if that cable breaks or your cat chews it to bits, then your Dominator is now a Strikepack F.P.S Paperweight. Normal USB cables won't fit. The other tradeoff is that the Strikepack F.P.S Dominator also doubles as a chat device. If you have a USB headset, you have to take extra steps in connecting them to your console so your PS4 knows which chat/audio device to use. The process is covered in the 20 page instruction booklet. It's a minor annoyance, but if you forget, no one else will be able to hear you.
As with most electronic devices these days, the Strikepack F.P.S Dominator has firmware that can be upgraded to fix issues and add features. You will need a Windows computer in order to perform a firmware upgrade. Mac users and the rarely seen in the wild Linux desktop user are out of luck. Should you be able to buy one, I highly recommend upgrading the firmware, especially if you play Overwatch. My first night with the Strikepack F.P.S almost turned into my last. While playing Overwatch the Dominator would work for a while then it would completely glitch out and stop responding to all controller input. All I could do was watch helplessly as my hero would very slowly move in very large circle, sometimes off the map, sometimes into a wall, and none of the time helping take or defend the point. I feared the device was faulty. However, once I updated to the latest firmware, I haven't had any problems on Overwatch or any other game for that matter. Also, the newest firmware has some additional features and special settings for the latest Call of Duty series and even Destiny. Bottom line, upgrade the firmware.
So how does it work?
The Strikepack Dominator has two modes, tournament and mod mode. Tournament mode will allow you to use the Dominator in tournaments as it doesn't do anything special other than mapping buttons to paddles. Every button, including the PS button, touchpad, and L3 and R3 stick buttons can be mapped. The triggers cannot be mapped as they're analog controls rather than an on/off button. Also, you can map two button presses to a single paddle. I've found this to be extremely useful while playing Warframe, the game that keeps on adding content with no need for a sequel. Warframes have a couple of really useful special moves, crouch-jumps and sliding. Both of these movements require pressing two buttons. By mapping them to the Strikepack F.P.S paddles, movement in Warframe becomes even faster and more fluid.
This simple feature can completely change how you play. Can't quite get the hang of bumper jumper? Now you don't have to. Want to reload without taking your fingers off from the sticks? Not a problem. Once you get the hang of using the paddles, the only real problem is not having enough of them. Mapping buttons to paddles can be done at any time, in game or out. With Overwatch, you can remap buttons to paddles as you change heroes to maximize your abilities with each hero's special abilities. Using tournamemt mode is so simple that there is only a single paragraph in the manual on how to do it.
The second mode is called mod mode. Using this mode takes up over half of the instruction manual. Needles to say, it can do a lot. Mod mode on the other hand will get you thrown out of any tournament should you choose to compete in one and I can't help but wonder if mod mode will could possibly get you banned in certain online games. Mod mode has a series of "mods" as they call them that do certain controls for you. There is a rapid fire mod that simulates pulling the R2 trigger rapidly, faster than you are able to. There's a separate rapid fire mod that you can adjust to get the rate of fire just right. There's another one for pulse style weapons. There is an anti recoil mod that will try and compensate for weapon recoil by sending L3 stick movement for you (and is adjustable). There's an auto sprint mode. Turbo melee. Quick scope mod that I think is self explanatory as well as a hair trigger mod that will fire the triggers at the slightest amount of pressure. You can also use the sixaxis motion controls to trigger a weapon reload. There is also a Battlefield specific mod called auto spot that does something to help you target enemies. I've never played Battlefield so I don't know how, or if, it works. Most of the mods in mod mode are designed to be used in Call of Duty: Black Ops III, although the latest firmware expands that to Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, and Destiny. Other games could also be used with Mod mode too. Those mods may very well be useful, but I think you can see why using Mod mode may be considered cheating as they are designed to give a player an unfair advantage based on the Strikepack F.P.S Dominator sending input on the player's behalf that no other player could physically do. Still, if you got "rekt" in your last game and are out for revenge, this might be your best bet, although I cannot be sure what would happen if you got reported.
Another thing to consider is hand size and hand placement. If you look at this picture showing the bottom of a Scuf controller you'll notice their suggested holding position.
To hold it their way you have to use the paddles with your ring fingers. I suppose that is okay except that ring fingers are the weakest of all your fingers. Ring fingers have the least grip strength and dexterity. Also, moving your ring fingers also moves your index and pinky fingers too. Trusting your ring fingers to get that jump, melee, or whatever you have mapped to the paddles exacly right is like trusting a red shirt in Star Trek is going to live to the next episode. What I've found with the Strikepack F.P.S Dominator is that I can easily map the L1 and R1 bumpers to the paddles. This lets me shift my hand position such that my forefingers are on the triggers with my index fingers on the paddles. I've tried to use my ring fingers with the Strikepack F.P.S, but it causes my index fingers to sometimes hit the trigger buttons too. You might have better dexterity than I do, or bigger hands, but I found shifting things down was the most comfortable position and the most useful. Scuf controllers probably have this same issue.
It should be said there is a whole lot more to customize on a Scuf controller than just the paddles. So you would get more for your $200+ if you bought one. To me, the paddles are the most innovative feature of any custom controller and so that is where my focus has been. I've been using the Strikepack F.P.S Dominator for about a month now. Once I updated the firmware, and figured out the connectivity issues with my headset, I've very much enjoyed it. I cannot say that it has improved my game though. For instance, I used the Strikepack F.P.S Dominator through Destiny's Iron Banner competition and had some spectacular wins and some spectacular losses. In other words, just like all the rest of the Iron Banners I've ever participated in. The same could be said with Overwatch. I win some and lose some. Hopefully I'm winning more than I'm losing. Did the Strikepack F.P.S Dominator play a role in any of those victories? I have no idea. I do know that I like it, especially for the multiple button mapping. The other thing I know is they're hard to find. As of this writing, Amazon has an estimated shipping time of 2 to 4 weeks, although Gamestop claims a 24 hour shipping time. I say claim since Gamestop promised to hold one of these at a store much closer to me than the one I purchased from, but that store was out of stock in spite of what the website said. If you do want one and are impatient, be sure to call ahead and verify. Bottom line, it's been a great product, if you can find one.