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Review DF - DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment review: small but perfectly formed

~Fake

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Dec 20, 2018
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Microsoft's Elite Series 2 controller has been divisive. To its fans, the Elite is responsive, powerful and premium, the ultimate first-party controller, but its detractors can point to its high price and quality control issues to paint a different picture. That makes Sony's approach, almost diametrically opposite that of its rival, so refreshing. Rather than making an £160/$180 controller that only its most wealthy players can justify purchasing, Sony has created the £26/$30 Back Button Attachment, a snap-on device that adds the single most important feature of premium controllers - programmable rear buttons - to any standard DualShock 4 controller at an affordable price.

We've been testing it for the past week ahead of its launch on February 14th, and we think Sony's approach has considerable merit.
Before we get into how this add-on performs, let's tackle the central thesis of the Back Button Attachment: that these buttons are genuinely useful and worth the extra cost and weight. The idea here is to keep the most important controls under your fingers at all times, even the ones that are normally bound to inconvenient buttons like the d-pad, share/options or L3/R3.
Let's look at the physical side of things first. The Attachment's twin paddles are attached to a circular centre section, which contains an OLED screen, a 3.5mm passthrough port on the bottom and 3.5mm and data plugs on the opposite side. These plugs are mounted on a swivel, allowing the unit lock into place like a limpet on the bottom of the DualShock 4. Installing the Back Button Attachment takes a bit of doing the first time, but once you get the knack of inserting the tip of the 3.5mm plug and then pushing up to secure the unit, it takes only a couple of seconds to accomplish.
Programming comes next, and here the Back Button Attachment also excels. Flip the controller over, and you'll see that small circular OLED screen we mentioned earlier. Press and hold the screen to enter programming mode; you'll see the current profile (one to three) in the centre and the current bindings for each paddle on their respective sides. Each time you press the paddle with the screen engaged, it moves on to the next button assignment, looping through all possible options.


Will Judd
Senior Staff Writer, Digital Foundry
We have to conclude that Sony's Back Button Attachment is a worthy upgrade for DualShock 4 owners, whether you're playing on PlayStation, PC or elsewhere. The idea of providing the single most essential piece of a premium controller at a relatively low cost is a great one, and the sheer utility this adds to a wide range of games across multiple platforms is hard to overstate.
Our only major complaint is that the Back Button Attachment comes so late in the life cycle of the PlayStation 4, on the eve of the PlayStation 5. Of course, that in turn raises the exciting possibility that Sony will include similar functionality in its next-gen console.
 
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Shmunter

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Aug 25, 2018
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Was excited to have the option. After spending a couple of days with it, it turned out to not be for me. After decades of muscle memory it got in the way and hampered my reflexes.
 

Matt_Fox

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Jul 24, 2019
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Are the buttons just clones of the other buttons or can they be mapped to new commands like hot keys on a PC?

If they're genuinely new then that would be fantastic, imagine being able to hot key health potions to them in Skyrim or being able to play Red Dead 2 without constantly having to break immersion by going into the menu screen. It would be a game changer for enabling more complexity in console gaming.
 

Al3x1s

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Nov 24, 2018
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Still ridiculous and superfluous to have a(n oled) screen on the back, better without it and an even better price, I dunno how anyone can call that good design. Also pointless when it's just clones, granted most games wouldn't bother updating to take advantage of new possible inputs but still. Hopefully DS5 has this by default, as new inputs. Having been using Oculus' Touch controllers for a while now for VR it's certainly proved to be a fairly convenient place for a trigger, I wonder why it wasn't done before (again, not as clones but just the normal placement of some inputs).
 
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DonF

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Jul 10, 2017
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After decades of muscle memory it got in the way and hampered my reflexes.
Interesting. I want to get one but this was one of my fears.

But then sometimes I get used to wildly different things right away, like Evolved setup in Titanfall, where you jump with L1.

I'll give it a shot if I can, after all it's just $30
 

Shmunter

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Aug 25, 2018
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Interesting. I want to get one but this was one of my fears.

But then sometimes I get used to wildly different things right away, like Evolved setup in Titanfall, where you jump with L1.

I'll give it a shot if I can, after all it's just $30
Worth a try for sure. Many people rate it highly.
 

SLoWMoTIoN

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Feb 2, 2018
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While having a back button mapped as a run button for shooters sounds great. I can't justify spending 30 bucks on this. Plus it only comes in black.
 
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~Fake

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Button wise? Or DS4 color wise? I want a purple/transparent back button.
I mean, about being 30 bucks. Dualshock 5 will be expensive , maybe not that expensive, but high too. Nintendo still don't make those back button either.

Don't care much about color, but indeed Sony should release at least for match the dualshock color.
 

stickkidsam

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Jan 7, 2018
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Kinda want to try this out. The only game I can think to use it for atm though is Sekiro.

Now that I'm used to my grapple and Dodge being on the thumbstick however it might not be worth it.
 

Breakage

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Mar 3, 2014
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Those pictures demonstrate how aesthetic superiority of the Xbox controller. It's hard to believe the DS4 is an official Sony product. I've said it from the beginning: the DS4 looks like a controller still stuck in its prototype phase. The back button only adds to the controller's ugliness. I mean just look at the way it bulges out between the handgrips. It looks like a prolapsed haemorrhoid.
 
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Sw0pDiller

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Jan 8, 2018
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Really want to try this. Need an extra hand when using the dpad while fighting bosses in sekiro. The only game that makes me hold the controller in a wierd way. Plus what the other guy said: using the r3 (stick press) for running in shooters could become a thing of the past. Great price also
 

Hawks Eclipse

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Nov 15, 2019
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Was excited to have the option. After spending a couple of days with it, it turned out to not be for me. After decades of muscle memory it got in the way and hampered my reflexes.
Keep at it for a bit.

I'd reckon 1-2 weeks is necessary to completely develop the muscle memory and have it feel like second nature, assuming you are using the new layout daily.
 
Jan 10, 2018
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As soon as I got it I regretted it, it kinda messed up my hand when I use it and gets uncomfortable. I could probably get used to it but it's legit making my hand cramp.
 

Shmunter

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Keep at it for a bit.

I'd reckon 1-2 weeks is necessary to completely develop the muscle memory and have it feel like second nature, assuming you are using the new layout daily.
Can’t do it bro, just can’t do it. Playing MW and everyone must think I’m special, special olympics kinda special.

If PS5 controllers launch with it stock I’ll revisit the matter.
 

Hawks Eclipse

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Nov 15, 2019
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Can’t do it bro, just can’t do it. Playing MW and everyone must think I’m special, special olympics kinda special.

If PS5 controllers launch with it stock I’ll revisit the matter.
I know the feel, whenever I remapped my controller binds in Fortnite (more than 5 times at least) it takes at least a week or more just to get back up to speed. During that time I'm also quite special haha.

In this case, it ultimately depends on how much you value the advantage of keeping your thumbs on the sticks more.
 

kiphalfton

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Dec 27, 2018
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Those pictures demonstrate how aesthetic superiority of the Xbox controller. It's hard to believe the DS4 is an official Sony product. I've said it from the beginning: the DS4 looks like a controller still stuck in its prototype phase. The back button only adds to the controller's ugliness. I mean just look at the way it bulges out between the handgrips. It looks like a prolapsed haemorrhoid.
Well Sony products can win in every category.
 

LegendOfKage

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Mar 6, 2018
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Can’t do it bro, just can’t do it. Playing MW and everyone must think I’m special, special olympics kinda special.

If PS5 controllers launch with it stock I’ll revisit the matter.
Playing online when you're getting used to a change like that isn't the way to go. Play the campaign of a game where you jump a lot. If you picked up Titanfall 2 a few months ago, that would work nicely. Something like Mirror's Edge or Spider-Man would also work. Just jump constantly, and slide / reload / dodge / whatever with the other paddle. You'll feel comfortable with things in maybe two or three hours. The more you use the button, the easier it is to learn.
 

Iorv3th

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Jan 16, 2013
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I bought one yesterday and it's really hard to get used to it. Decades of muscle memory must be reprogrammed, lol. But it's a great attachment.
It won't take long. Although I already used the steam controller and a modded xbox one controller with back buttons.