The new Xbox One Afterglow Prismatic Controller by PDP offers more than just bells and whistles — it might just give Microsoft’s official option a run for its money.
At first glance, you would be forgiven for thinking that PDP’s Afterglow Prismatic Controller for the Xbox One might be more of a novelty item than a serious peripheral. Compared to the flat black aesthetic of Microsoft’s standard controller, it’s an undoubtedly gaudy piece of kit.
Indeed, the first thing that came to mind when I saw its unusual outward appearance were the dreaded ‘spare controllers’ I encountered at friends houses when I would head round to play video games. Many of these non-official controllers seemed to use an arresting visual design to make up for their other failings.
The Official Xbox One controller is a tremendous piece of hardware, as most owners of the system would agree. To me, any third-party replacement that used colorful lights as a selling point was probably going to fall short of the high bar set by Microsoft — but I’m pleased to say that my initial doubts were soon put to rest.
While the Afterglow Prismatic Controller falls short of outdoing its official counterpart in terms of hand-feel and playability, it’s only by a whisker. Its sticks, its buttons and its triggers are all comparably responsive and comfortable, and at no point while using the controller have I longed for Microsoft’s proprietary alternative.
In fact, the biggest downside to PDP’s effort is the fact that it’s wired — which is obviously a necessary part of its colorful capabilities. Still, wired controllers don’t tend to have the reassuring weight of their wireless brothers and sisters, and my personal preference lies with a heavier pad.
That being said, the detachable USB cable supplied with the Afterglow Prismatic Controller does give it one distinct advantage over the official wireless option: my PC recognized the peripheral immediately when I plugged it in. There was no messing with drivers or configuration options, I just opened up Shovel Knight and everything worked perfectly.
The pad also outdoes the stock controller by way of the multi-function wheels present on its reverse. These inputs are a little fiddly to use — not quite as agreeable as the paddles on the back of Microsoft’s Elite Controller — but can certainly be put to good use.
There’s a free app for the Xbox One that makes it easy to edit the way these wheels are configured, and set up different profiles for different games. This utility also offers up tools to tweak how the controller looks while its lights are activated.
It’s quick and easy to set up, and the results are quite pleasant to look at — if a little distracting. Not everyone is going to be enthused about the idea of a lambent pad, but anyone that’s looking for that functionality in a controller will be well-served by PDP‘s offering.
While the lights might not line up with my personal tastes, I did really appreciate the effect of the controller’s clear casing. Seeing the way that the pad’s motors deliver its vibration effect and the complex array of components on its reverse impressed me more than the glow — even though the setting where the pad cycles through its color palette is neat.
All in all, PDP has made a great controller. Anyone who’s looking for an ostentatious pad will be satisfied by its cosmetic options, but those features don’t come at the cost of its practical purpose — this is a robust peripheral that feels almost as precise and responsive as Microsoft’s official version.
The Afterglow Prismatic Controller for Xbox One is available now.