Funny thing, hardware. Once you’ve released a device, it’s not quite like you can go back and add a button to your existing design. Or can you?
Nintendo tried it with the Circle Pad Pro, a behemoth accessory for the original Nintendo 3DS that added a second circle pad to enable “dual-analog” controls on the handheld. It was not the greatest success, and it more than doubled the thickness of the device itself.
So, colour us surprised when Sony unveiled a not-entirely-dissimilar attachment for their DualShock 4 controller at the tail end of 2019. The story changes big time from there; this thing is no Circle Pad Pro.
Called the DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment, the only thing big about this device is its name. The device straps onto the back of your existing DualShock 4 and stays out of the way when you don’t need it. But for the $29.99 USD that it costs, it can make a world of difference in everything from shooters to action games.
What looks like two paddles on the back of your controller is actually single-click buttons. No force feedback or hair-triggers here, just good, solid switches. And that’s kind of the beauty of it; the DualShock 4 has triggers, so adding two more to the back wouldn’t be all too beneficial. But these buttons–paddles, really–are best for being remapped from face buttons you would typically only be able to hit by taking your thumb off the analog sticks on the front. And in competitive play, even just among friends, that can be the difference between a solid W or a big fat L.
Perhaps the oddest thing about the attachment is that there is an OLED screen built into it. This is used for assigning and mapping buttons to each of the paddles, but it does feel a bit of an odd workaround. Since the attachment plugs into the controller and doesn’t require any driver downloads or anything else to get up and running properly, support for these buttons must be baked into the console itself. It would have made much more sense if these settings could be adjusted in the settings on the TV instead of adding a display that serves a function used one time out of a hundred.
There are a few profile slots that allow you to save settings for each trigger depending on the game you’re playing, so you can have different settings for Modern Warfare than you do for God of War, though again, OS integration would likely have made it so that when the attachment is plugged in, the console just knows which settings you want.
These minor gripes aside, the attachment is still sub-$30, and allows you to use your favourite DualShock 4 controller colour, rather than having a single option for something like Microsoft’s Xbox Elite series controller. Though, this does mean that third-party controllers are not going to benefit from the Back Button Attachment, either.
In all, if you’re looking for just the slightest edge to your games, and want to see what it would be like to invest in your gameplay a bit further, or perhaps dip your toes into the custom controller market without actually taking the plunge, the DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment is a fantastic way to do it.