With Street Fighter V having just been released and Tekken 7 just around the corner, more PS4 gamers than ever are looking into arcade sticks. There’s just something about the feel of that classic arcade control scheme, and many fighting gamers claim it’s hard to go back to a DualShock 4 after getting used to the precision and comfort offered by a fight pad. If you’re one of the many gamers that has decided to make the switch to an arcade stick, this article is for you- we’ll help you find the best stick for your budget so that you can get to inputting killer combos sooner rather than later.
What to Look for in an Arcade Stick
Arcade sticks come in many different shapes and sizes, as well as a variety of different price ranges. While some gamers have been known to build entire custom arcade cabinets for their current-gen fighting games, others are fine with nothing more than a DualShock 4 featuring a different button layout. That’s why many people say that the biggest determining factor when deciding between controllers is personal preference.
With that being said, though, there are a few other things to keep in mind. Portability is one- do you frequently travel to play games at LAN parties of friends’ houses? Versatility is another- do you only play PS4, or do you have PC and Xbox fighters that you enjoy as well? Finally, consider the features you need- are you okay with a joystick and eight buttons, or would you rather have a touchpad and L3/R3 buttons on your arcade stick?
Keeping these things in mind, let’s go into the best six sticks for 2016…
This stick is for the budget gamer, and while it’s a lot smaller than the other sticks on this list, it definitely gives you all of the features that you need. The only thing that sets it apart from Mad Catz’ bigger offerings is the lack of two (optional) buttons and a touchpad. Still, though, it’s sturdy and offers great feedback, making it a fantastic purchase for anyone who wants a simple stick without all of the bells and whistles.
The first thing you need to know about the Tournament Edition S+ is that it’s pricey… but as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” This stick is officially licensed for Street Fighter V, as you can see by the artwork adorning the top, which means it’s also completely optimized for the PS4- every button you have on your DualShock 4 can be found on the Tournament Edition S+, including the touchpad! A conveniently located switch even allows you to control what the joystick inputs, whether it’s the right stick, left stick or D-pad.
For about fifty bucks less than the Tournament Edition S+, you can get this stick, which does a fantastic job of controlling any fighting game you play with it. The design is a little more slim and therefore a bit more comfortable and visually appealing than many other sticks on this list, and unlike many budget options, it still feels great when you’re playing. The only downside is that Hori isn’t necessarily known for producing the most durable products, but it’s easy to switch the buttons and some other parts out if you’d like.
Speaking of modding, if you loved everything you read about the Tournament Edition S+ but wished that it was a more easily moddable pad, you’ll want to look into the TE2. It comes at a higher price than the S+, but almost everything about it can be switched out, so it’s a great buy if you’re looking to use your arcade stick well into the future.
If you like the feel of a controller but want the layout of an arcade stick, the Hori Fighting Commander 4 may be the best way to go. While there’s no analogue stick on the controller, it’s fairly easy to adjust D-pad sensitivity in order to determine how well the controller registers diagonal movements. This is definitely a unique item but nothing about it feels too gimmicky- it’s all up to what you, as the player, feel comfortable with.
If portability is a big deal to you, you can’t go wrong with the Fighting Stick Mini 4. It’s decently priced, it’s lightweight, and it’s definitely responsive, giving you everything you want in a fight stick while only really sacrificing stability and extra features. Much like the FightStick Alpha, though, if you aren’t worried about fussing around with extra buttons and lots of artwork, this is the stick for you… especially if you’re a gamer who’s always on the go.