Thumbs-On Review: Improve Your Game With KontrolFreek Black Ops 4 Performance Thumbsticks
I basically can’t game without some kind of thumbstick extender or cover on my DualShock 4. What started out as a way to cover up the rubber that would deteriorate on the early DualShock 4s turned into a need to have longer thumbsticks with better grips. KontrolFreek has sent me a number of performance thumbsticks over the years, but the ones I’ve latched onto the most are the Destiny 2 Ghost thumbsticks. I find they offer an optimum level of comfort, grip, and control. When KontrolFreek issued a combat directive to take their new Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 performance thumbsticks into the firefight, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to go thumbs-on with their latest.
Where my favorite Ghost thumbsticks are mid-height (8.6mm), the Black Ops 4 ones are high-rise (11.8 mm). By simple laws of physics, this means that it’s easier to precisely aim, particularly at long distances, using the Black Ops 4 performance thu. After being used to the shorter thumbsticks, moving to a taller extender was a jarring experience, and continues to be each time I pick up the controller. As a traditionally “get right in the fray and mess some stuff up” kind of player, toying around with precision aiming has allowed me to explore other play styles I may not have otherwise. I’m not quite a master sniper yet, but my aim has definitely improved at range in various games (I usually use Destiny/Destiny 2 as my benchmark for first-person aiming and shooting).
KontrolFreeks are always interesting to use because each pair has their own unique grip patterns, often affiliated with a game. These ones feature the Black Ops 4 hash marks logo. Due to the etched design, they actually have the best grip of any performance thumbstick I’ve used. If you want your thumbs to stay firmly in place while playing a game, these will do the trick.
Because of their height, these thumbsticks start to trend into specialty accessory territory, rather than being acceptable for every-game use. You can definitely use them while playing Ni no Kuni 2 or Yoku’s Island Express if you want, but I was always keenly aware that I was playing with longer thumbsticks than normal. These are designed to give you an edge in shooters where precision aiming is key. If you have multiple DualShock 4s, these might have to go on a dedicated shooter controller, or you might be switching them out depending on what you are playing.
The Left Stick Dilemma
I’m not quite sure why you’d ever want a longer thumbstick on the left side of the controller. The left stick controls movement in most every first-person shooter, and a shorter stick actually provides a faster response. In addition, the longer thumbstick makes it much more difficult to consistently click the L3 button when held at an angle. Cicking L3 usually makes the character run, so while you might have improved aiming on the right stick, movement suffers with an extender on the left side, particularly with specialty performance thumbsticks that are as long as these are.
KontrolFreek is aware of this problem and offers multiple thumbstick packs that come with a shorter left stick for better grip and faster control response, and a longer right stick for precision aiming at range. To solve this problem myself, I divided and conquered across multiple controllers and using the KontrolFreek Call of Duty 4 performance thumbsticks only on the right stick on two of my controllers (actually, I have one and my wife uses one for playing Overwatch).
I also have a somewhat petty complaint about the color, as orange is not my top preference. The Destiny 2 Ghost thumbsticks win this category for me due to their more low-key and classy design. Fortunately the orange is reserved to the clip-on portion of extender and ends up being more of an accent color. I’m able to use these on a couple of DualShock 4s that have busy controller skins so I don’t notice the color too much. Compared to some of the more gaudy KontrolFreek designs (those Fortnite ones), the Black Ops 4 thumbsticks are pretty tame in their design.
These KontrolFreek Black Ops 4 performance thumbsticks will undoubtedly improve your game, but they fall into a specialty category where I can’t justify their use in everyday gaming. They won’t be replacing my Destiny 2 Ghost thumbsticks as my favorites (until my cat finally ends up stealing and losing them. Seriously, it’s a problem in my house), though I’ll definitely keep them in play to help my performance every time the Iron Banner PvP event rolls around in Destiny 2.
KontrolFreek Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 performance thumbsticks provided by KontrolFreek for review. For more information, please see our Review Policy.