Best eSwap Pro Controller Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020:
Long focused on entry-level and mid-range game controllers, Thrustmaster is entering the increasingly competitive market of high-end gamepads designed for competition. For this, he is banking on the modularity of his eSwap Pro Controller.
Very present in the world of flight simulators ( joysticks, hotas, rudders … ) and racing ( steering wheels, pedals, gear levers … ). Increasingly targeting the high end, Thrustmaster remained until then quite discreet with its joysticks. Having finally stopped in the Xbox 360 generation or targeting only the entry level and the PC. A situation that ends with the arrival of the eSwap Pro Controller, a gamepad officially licensed PlayStation. 4, also compatible PC and appearing at the very high price of 169.99 €, almost 7 times more expensive than its last PC controller to date (GP XID Pro)!
So what does this new modular controller designed for competition really bring? Does it justify its price 3 times higher than that of an official DualShock 4 controller? We tested it for several hours, in all possible configurations and with different types of games.
Best eSwap Pro Controller Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020
Construction and ergonomics
Impressive, but comfortable for large hands
Nothing like to radically move away from the design of the DualShock 4 to motivate a player not necessarily satisfied with the official controller to change the gamepad. In this, the eSwap Pro Controller is clearly distinguished with its imposing size (160 x 120 x 60 mm) which would almost pass the official gamepads of PS4 and Xbox One for controllers for children. One thing is certain, large hands will appreciate having room to spread their fingers under the long handles.
With its 309 grams, 90 g more than the DualShock 4 V2 despite a purely wired operation. Therefore the absence of battery, the eSwap Pro Controller is also a heavyweight. It’s even more than Razer’s first wired Raiju (287 g) which already seemed very heavy. But still less than a wireless Raiju in Ultimate version (351 g) or Tournament Edition (321 g).
The good distribution of the masses nevertheless makes it possible not to tire excessively. Especially as the distribution is done on all the palm of the hand. We also appreciate the slices covered with a textured elastomer which ensure good grip on the palms. Magnetized, they hold in place and are easily interchangeable if you prefer the smoother textures or the look of the two other types of slices sold in the optional kits (eSwap Fighting Pack and eSwap Color Pack). This also allows them to be changed in the event of wear on the coating.
Customization and configuration
The power of the magnet
But let’s come to what interests us more particularly with this controller: its modularity! Because what distinguishes the eSwap Pro Controller from other “pro” gamepads is the possibility of removing its three modules, even when hot. An ingenious magnetic system allows them to be removed and put in place in a jiffy. Nothing to unscrew, you will simply have to use the small tool provided in the box to catch the other modules than those of the sticks.
We can thus reverse the left analog stick and the directional cross to adopt either a configuration of Xbox. One (symmetrical sticks) or PS4 (asymmetrical sticks). As such, we would have liked Thrustmaster to go a little further by offering a fourth module at the button level. The latter could thus have been reversed with the right analog stick, to find an arrangement similar to what the Wii U Pro controller offered, for example. This would also have ensured a longer life for the controller, although its buttons are supposed to support more than 5 million activations, according to the manufacturer.
Buttons instead of a stick
Thrustmaster would also have been able to offer a real 6-button area that would have taken the place of 2 modules, rather than simply adding a module with two buttons instead of the right stick. Indeed, this module integrated into the optional eSwap Pro Controller is interesting for transforming the controller into a fightpad. But the two additional buttons are positioned offset from the other 4. The difference between the 6 buttons is not the same, the risk of handling error is greater. Especially as the buttons remain quite small (10 mm in diameter, as on the DualShock 4). The technological challenge was perhaps too great.
Another element of the Fighting Pack that we received: a directional disc module that can replace the cross to perform more fluid actions and less painful for the thumb in fighting games. We would have liked directions more easily identifiable, the disc looking really smooth under the thumb. That of the Xbox Elite 2 controller seems to us more precise, although a little less gentle on the finger.
Modularity that has its limits
What is unfortunate, however, is not being able to change either the caps or the axes of analog sticks of the modules supplied as standard with the controller, even though most competing controllers offer this at no additional cost. The caps here are concave and ultimately quite basic, although quite pleasant to use. Strangely, while the controller is very large, and therefore a priori rather intended for large hands, their diameter is only 16.5 mm (the same as that of the official Xbox One controller sticks), or 1.5 mm lower than that of the sticks of the DualShock 4. Users with large thumbs would no doubt have liked to be able to replace them with larger ones.
However, Thrustmaster only offers a kind of alternative cap, so to speak, of convex shape but of the same diameter. To get them, there is no other choice than to buy a Color Pack (€ 29.99), the original caps cannot even be removed. A little mean for such an expensive controller that deserved to be supplied automatically with modules with removable caps and a few different caps. The same goes for analog triggers, Thrustmaster only providing one size. The purchase of a pack is compulsory for the moment if one wishes to take advantage of longer triggers.
Precision and responsiveness
Responsive buttons, but too small on the back
In terms of responsiveness, we take advantage of buttons with “tact switches” with frank activation and producing an audible click. Switches also used at the level of the trigger buttons L1 and R1, but also on the directions of the D-pad. Thrustmaster thus joined Razer on this technical choice.
“Pro” controller requires, there are also 4 additional buttons on the back of the eSwap Pro Controller. They are unfortunately small and are only activated at the end of the middle finger. Little fingers will have trouble reaching them. The eSwap Pro Controller also ignores an adjustment of the stroke of the analog triggers, which is unfortunate as it can be useful in some shooting games.
Speed and accuracy at play
In play, the speed of the buttons is appreciable when you need to strafe on the go, their rebound being better than that of the buttons of the DualShock 4. We also appreciate being able to easily actuate the trigger buttons L1 and R1 with the second phalanx of the index finger. Thus avoiding to take off the fingers of the triggers L2 and R2.
The adjustment of the sensitivity curves of the analog sticks provides appreciable control, in particular for aiming in shooting games. Since it is thus easier to control micromovements by lowering the sensitivity at the start of the race, for example. Each player will adjust this setting as desired.
By focusing on modularity, the eSwap Pro Controller succeeds in distinguishing itself from the competition by offering an easy-to-use system and offering fairly advanced customization. It is however regrettable that it is necessary to buy at least one pack of modules in addition to really customize your controller, even though it already costs 3 times the price of a DualShock 4. The eSwap Pro Controller fortunately presents the essentials functions. That we are entitled to expect from a high-end joystick aimed at competition. Although it lacks a few elements to truly equal the competition.
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