FPS games are big these days, so it’s unsurprising that we’re also seeing the rise of performance-boosting accessories designed to bump you to the top of the leaderboard charts. These range from modified controllers to improved grips that keep your sweaty, Cheeto-stained fingers from sliding out of control. Today we’re going to look at KontrolFreek Thumbsticks; are they FPS Viagra or will they leave your precision limp and flaccid?
KontrolFreeks are, essentially, rubbery clip-on tops for your analog sticks. Fake nails for your controller, I guess. Clip them on and get to playing. They extend from the top of each stick, theoretically improving precision and grip. It’s a cute idea, really. Some of them actually do look pretty good, and you can feel the difference from the second you start using them.
Whether or not you appreciate this difference really depends on you and on the game you’re playing. When I first tried a set of KontrolFreeks out it was while I was playing Bloodborne and I didn’t find they improved my game at all. Instead, they made the controller feel larger than it was, making it awkward to get where I was going; worse, they made it more difficult to push L3 and R3, the former of which is vital in Bloodborne. It wasn’t long before I took them off.
When I tried later with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, however, I fared a little better. Games like this are really what these stick-clip-things are designed for, after all, and it definitely shows. Once I cranked the analog stick sensitivity up a bit, my aim improved, though I wouldn’t say it’d make or break my score in multiplayer. It’s a nice bonus but nothing necessary. I did better after playing with them for awhile, but whether that was due to the sticks or due to increasing familiarity with the game and getting “into the zone” it’s hard to say.
I’ve seen other reviewers say that these are better for gamers with large hands and that does seem accurate. My significant other immediately despised them and she rapidly requested that I take them off, complaining that the degree to which they extended from the actual top of the sticks made the controller painful to hold.
I was sent several models to try and each caused the sticks to extend to varying degrees; the largest were painful even for me. My favorites ended up being the branded COD: Black Ops III and purple Freek Galaxy models – I used the single “mid-rise” stick from both packs and they combination ended up feeling pretty good, though in theory you’re meant to use a mid-rise stick on your movement and a high-rise stick on your aiming.
KontrolFreek Thumbsticks aren’t very expensive accessories, which is good as opinions about their usefulness will vary from player to player – and game to game. As someone who focuses primarily on RPGs and adventure games I don’t think they’re necessary or especially helpful, but I’ve seen other gamers, especially avid FPS fans, swear by them. With that in mind, I can only suggest trying them for yourself! If you’d like to give a set of KontrolFreeks a shot, they’ll run you around $15-20 and come in a variety of models and colors; check out the company’s site for the easiest way of getting a set.