So you’re looking to gain an edge on your opponents while blasting away enemies on Call of Duty: Ghosts or Battlefield 4. You’re looking to take that precise dribble on FIFA or make the perfect turn on Grand Theft Auto.
Regardless of what gameplay you’re looking to enhance, if you’re using the thumbsticks in their vanilla form then you already know the worn down, thin, lightly gripped default controllers simply don’t last long enough to remain competitive.
You’ve probably seen the gel pads that increase your grip, or those insane controller modifications that look like a hyperactive liquid computer cooler. You’ve also probably seen the controllers that gamers have modified and hacked to add the cutting-edge to a winning round.
What you might have missed was one of the simplest ergonomic enhancements you can add to your gameplay experience – KontrolFreek’s ergonomic thumb pads. There are thumb pads which are custom designed for every style of gameplay which is both a blessing and a curse – if you’re a diverse gamer it will require either multiple controllers, a neutral pad, or constant swapping which could potentially damage your controller. The slight elevation on the thumb pad makes you feel in control, period.
Today we’re test driving the FPS Freek Phantom – the thumb pads designed to make your K:D rise and your barrel aim more precise. Here is the product description from the KontrolFreek website:
“Phantom is this year’s nod to everybody’s favorite first-person shooter, Call of Duty, and was inspired by the theme of Infinity Ward’s latest iteration, Ghosts. The intricate white-on-white, laser-etched design is hauntingly beautiful, rugged and offers an exceptional amount of grip.”
“FPS Freek Phantom was explicitly designed to perform in medium-to-long-range combat situations typical of the Call of Duty franchise. The taller (1/2 inch), concave thumbstick adds 40% more linear motion, enhancing precision and control to improve accuracy and comfort during marathon Prestige sessions. With these benefits, you can get the most out of every weapon type and take your K/D ratio to the next level.”
So these sound like pretty bold claims. How can a pair of thumb sticks make you … better? Is it the science being ergonomics, is it because it puts you “on your game” because its different? Or is there something about the grip and concave nature that genuinely increases your aim?
We decided to break down each claim to include commentary on our experience with the thumbpads.
1) “Improved accuracy while aiming”
It would be foolish to make the claim that I played X number of games with the vanilla thumb pads, Y number of games with a gel pad, and Z number of games with KontrolFreek Phantoms because every game online is different, the opponents vary and the environments change. All that’s left is a subjective opinion of my experience with all three.
What I can state is that after playing countless hours of games with vanilla pads, gel pads, FPS Freek Infinity’s (The Halo edition non-concave Freek’s) and the FPS Freek Phantoms (The Ghost edition WITH concave grips) there is a noticeable difference in gameplay with each one.
Vanilla pads often caused my fingers to slip which led me to losing an edge (literally). The gel pads enhanced my grip but cracked and slipped after as little as one month of active gameplay. The Infinity pads enhanced my grip and the ergonomics – but it failed to help my accuracy any. With the FPS Freek Phantom’s I feel a noticeable change to my accuracy, not because it actually makes you more accurate … but because it provides a wider wingspan with which to work.
2) Range of motion increased by 40%
If the video on the KontrolFreek website accounts for anything the range of motion refers to the wider wingspan I was referring to. In short what its trying to say is that the horizontal moves on your controller will be more controlled and require a split millisecond longer to move into location. The best way I can reference it this: Imagine turning the sensitivity on your favorite shooter down while still having the speed of high sensitivity. It puts the control in the motor function of your finger and away from the technicality of the game you’re playing.
3) Concave pad for grip and comfort
The concave pad is more natural than the protruding pads provided on the DualShock controller and on many extensions or pads for the Xbox controller. Between the material and the formed grips these pads will make your gaming experience more enjoyable. The added grip makes you feel like a professional football player rather than an amateur (or instead of amateur you can insert your most hated teams quarterback here).
4) Reduce hand and thumb fatigue
After having spent countless hours since my childhood finely honing the muscles in my thumbs and hands it’s difficulty to determine whether or not the fatigue is any better or worse. I simply can’t tell. My thumbs used to get really tired after long marathon-style gameplay sessions and these thumb pads seem to be helping with that – but it could be purely psychological. I simply have no basis for this statement. Take it for what its worth, I think it helps. Even if it’s just a little bit.
5) Makes target acquisition much faster
I have no proof that I’m acquiring targets more rapidly, but I can say that movement and aiming is significantly more comfortable with these pads on. Whether or not it makes me a better gamer is entirely subjective but the grips make me feel like I have more control.
All form of controller enhancements are designed to do exactly what they state – enhance your experience. KontrolFreek has a history of designing custom thumb pads that fit every game style, every preference, and every controller you could possibly think of using.
Our time spent with the Phantom’s felt like a more comfortable gaming experience with improved stability and aim. It felt as if we had more control over the actions we wanted to perform and most importantly it felt natural and ergonomic. It also looks stunning with the white-on-white design that fits the Phantom name.
In short, it does exactly what it claims to do. It also does it for a very reasonable price.
You can learn more about the Phantom’s and the various other KontrolFreek products on their website listed below. Right now they’re on sale for $13.99 with an additional discount if you sign up for the newsletter.