With the PlayStation 4 not receiving any third party controllers worth mentioning until the end of this year at the earliest, right now we can only set up a list of the top Xbox controllers out there. Like our post compiling the best headsets for GTA Online, this list is more or less applicable to gaming in general as well.
While the stock Xbox One controller is a great and versatile piece of hardware and using it won't put you at any significant disadvantage, there is always room for improvement. And while many special or third party controllers have a reputation for being worse than the stock pad, there are a number of options out there which improve on the stock model in different ways.
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Budget Option: HORIPAD for Xbox One - $39.99
The Horipad is basically just a cheaper version of the stock Xbox One controller. Buying this pad will save you 20 bucks while offering more or less the same quality as the default controller. While the look and feel of the Horipad allude to it's cheaper price point, in terms of durability and performance you won't be suffering for the discount in any meaningful way.
The only drawback on this pad is that the triggers are a bit finicky. Some users find them too stiff, some find them too loose, while others describe them as 'squishy'. Now, you might be asking why we're featuring a controller that's potentially worse than the default pad - the answer is that because we wanted to represent different price ranges. This is a great product at its price point, and anything cheaper than this will likely handle like crap anyway. You really shouldn't go lower.
Lower-Mid Range: PDP Afterglow Prismatic Wired Controller - $49.99
Still a good 10 bucks cheaper than the stock pad, Afterglow's controller is a step up already. At a lower price point, you get the same sturdiness and quality offered by Microsoft's official controller, except the thing has a neat see-through cover and it glows. Gamers love shit that glows, right?
In all seriousness, the Afterglow Prismatic is a great choice from many standpoints. Getting the same measure of quality for less cash is already reason enough to buy the pad, and honestly, this is one of the more elegant ways of incorporating a light-up feature into a peripheral. You can go a lot cheesier than this. The main selling point, however, is the two additional multifunction wheels on the bottom of the pad that can be configured to function as any of the existing buttons on the controller, potentially increasing your reaction time or comfort while playing.
Mid-Upper Range: Razer Wildcat - $99.99
Don't listen to the people hating on Razer - they only do it because that's trendy on the internet or something. The Wildcat is a prime pad for players, as not only does it pack extra functionality, it's also significantly more comfortable and just as durable as the stock controller.
The Wildcat has pretty much the best D-pad and Xbox controller has ever seen, the rubber additions to the analog sticks are a godsend to anyone with sweaty fingers, the extra 4 buttons will boost your performance while also making long gaming sessions more comfortable, and the removable padding on the sides of the pad once again add to the comfort factor.
Plus, you know, it looks really damn good.
Premium: Microsoft Xbox One Elite Controller - $148.83
This is the cream of the crop. It's fitting that the best controller on this list isn't even a third party pad, but rather Microsoft's own premium controller designed for the Xbox One. The Elite is everything the stock controller should be but can't fit into the default price range.
The name of the game here is customization. You can add up to 4 additional paddles to which you can assign various keys. You can select from 6 interchangeable sets of analog sticks and two different D-pads to forge the perfect controller for your own needs. The Elite controller is made of premium materials, meaning it won't be going out of commission anytime soon. The grip is rubberised, preventing accidental slips, and the triggers have special locks that decrease the travel distance allowing for quicker reactions.
Which controller do you use for GTA Online?