After PS5 players have experienced a generation of controllers with an ever-growing range of features and options, the well has gone dry. With the lack of third-party controllers, players who desire features beyond the DualSense’s basic loadout still have one avenue worth exploring: Specialty gamepad modders, who can replace and/or add parts to create custom versions of the DualSense. Here’s a comprehensive look at the DualSense HexGaming PS5 Controller available on Amazon

HexGaming Rival

The Rival, a customizable DualSense controller offered by HexGaming, comes with replaceable thumbsticks and rear buttons, along with several optional features and a range of cosmetic options according to your specification. Even though it has been modified and reassembled, the controller has been expertly crafted. It feels like an organic extension of DualSense’s standard offerings. Because it is expensive compared to a standard controller, purchasing a custom DualSense may feel like a big investment. However, the upgrades HexGaming has made to this controller have set it apart from the crowd. 

Design and features

Although renamed, the Rival is still very much a DualSense. The new controller’s design is nearly identical to that of its predecessor. The original button layout and shape have been retained. So, you get the massive clicky pad in the center coupled with long handles. While HexGaming replaces the PlayStation logo with its round home button, you can tell the Rival is a DualSense at first sight. The Rival has a few core features that come standard with every controller. It includes replaceable analog sticks, and it comes in three different heights, which are taller than the basic DualSense model.

The HexGaming PS5 Controller’s sticks are attached magnetically. So, you can easily swap out sticks without worrying about them falling off during intense play. In addition, there is a large rear panel that rests on the Rival’s back. This panel holds two wing-like rear buttons that fit into place right under your middle fingers. It’s comfortable to use, easy to pull, and has an excellent tactile click. Depending on your grip, the large panel that accommodates the buttons may not be easy on the hands. 

Mapping and customization

With this controller, pairing is easy, albeit a little time-consuming. You must hold a button to switch to the pairing mode and then press both the rear button and the button being mapped for a few seconds before turning off pairing mode. Quick and efficient, the button mapping system is great if you want to remap buttons at the start of a new game, but doing that mid-session wouldn’t be wise. You can map pretty much any button to the rear buttons – only the PlayStation button and touchpad are restricted. 

Beyond the main “Rival” upgrades, you can customize many parts of the DualSense in various ways. With its made-to-order build, HexGaming lets you replace almost anything in this controller, including the front and rear panel, bumpers, menu and face buttons, d-pad, triggers, and touchpad. Most replacements are primarily cosmetic. For example, Sony’s original clear-on-white d-pad buttons and face can be upgraded to matte purple or chrome red. If you purchase a touchpad and/or controller face with a pattern, the printing is done on a smooth, glossy panel rather than a matte one. While they are purely aesthetic, the changes give the Hex PS5 Controllers a different feel. 

There are also a few optional modifications that can make a big difference. A black textured rear panel gives the controller a rubberized back with paint-drip pattern bumps along the handles’ backs. The most significant optional feature is “FastShots,” a low-profile trigger lock that has been installed permanently. It is meant for triggers and bumpers and significantly restricts the travel on all four buttons. Lowered travel speeds up the time it takes to push the bumpers and pull the triggers, which is what high-reflex shooters need.

The bottom line

While the pros and cons of trigger locks may be debatable, one thing’s for certain—the Rival is an excellent piece of hardware. The matte buttons and smooth plastic panels may make it feel strange for a DualSense, but the experience the controller offers is essentially the same. The controller feels durable, and the modifications don’t affect its quality. The rear buttons on the controller have a quick-pull capability, so you can make snap decisions as you play. The rear buttons are especially useful when you need to hold them down for a long time.

FastShots are an efficient and comfortable trigger lock. They drastically reduce the time and distance between each trigger pull and bumper press. The clicky tactile feedback of the bumpers and triggers make up for the lack of travel, which effectively hides the jammed feeling you get with most other lock-button controllers. You may have wished for a more pronounced grip with previous DualSense models, and, fortunately, the Rival’s rubberized grip firms up your hold on it and adds stability, even with sweaty hands. 

You can pick up the HexGaming PS5 Controller from Amazon.

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