Nintendo Switch PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ Audio Wired Controller Review
The best third-party controller I’ve ever used
Third party game console controllers have a bad reputation. Growing up, in my household they were reserved for guests, my cousins, or those days where I needed to remind myself how much better the official pads were. Over the history of home video games, numerous peripheral companies have taken a shot at making lower cost input devices than the console manufacturers, but they’re almost always cheap-feeling, janky, or severely compromised.
For years, I stopped even considering buying a non-official controller. That is, until PDP announced the Faceoff Deluxe+ Audio Controller for the Nintendo Switch last year. It’s available in a few different colors for $24.99 (official page here), and if you want to spend an additional $5 you can get one with PDP’s “Afterglow” LED lighting (here).
I plunked down the cash for the Blue Camo model at my local Gamestop the second they got one in, and it has been a go-to controller for my docked Switch gaming time ever since. The reason? It adds a great feature to the console: easy headphone support while docked.
When you’re playing the Switch in portable mode, you can connect wired headphones to the top of the console, or use a wireless USB solution like the Steelseries Arctis 1. That’s simple, as it should be for a gaming console.
In docked mode however, your headphone options are more limited and cumbersome. The Switch offers unofficial stereo USB audio support for certain wireless headsets and USB DACs, but users have been left to compile lists of supported devices through trial and error. Many of these devices stay on constantly too, drawing power and warming up your Switch while not in use. Your TV or receiver might have an okay headphone output, but my monitor’s output isn’t the best and is prone to noise and interference. You could also run a long cable to the top headphone jack on the Switch unit itself, but that’s awkward compared to the outputs built in to other console controllers.
The PS4 made headphone jacks standard on its controllers, and Microsoft copied this idea shortly thereafter, so it was a bummer that Nintendo didn’t follow suit with their Pro Controller. The Faceoff Deluxe+ Audio has a built-in USB DAC/Amp combo with enough power to drive nearly any gaming headset on the market today, or any reasonably sensitive headphone up to a resistance of around 80 ohms. It turns off when not in use, so it won’t draw power while your Switch is idle and cause it to heat up. It sounds clean and neutral, and has a handy built-in volume adjustment accessed by holding the multi-function button on the controller’s face and pressing up or down on the d-pad.
Aside from the wonderful headphone jack, the Faceoff Deluxe is a great controller for actually playing video games, too! It has a satisfying and ergonomic feel in the hands. The d-pad has the right amount of click. The buttons don’t feel cheap. The triggers are responsive and quick. And the analog sticks feel shockingly good. In fact, they feel a little more resistant and snappy than the sticks on the Nintendo Pro Controller, and they have a better texture and grip too.
In common with other third-party Switch pads, the Faceoff Deluxe+ supports tilt controls, but doesn’t have any included rumble or amiibo support. Fortunately, it makes up for these omissions a little bit with two extra paddle buttons on the back of the controller. These are smoothly tucked into the grips so that you can press them by lightly squeezing with your hands and middle fingers, a design that Valve’s Steam Controller also used. They feel wonderful, and you can quickly remap them on the fly using the multi-function button. These mappings save to a memory chip inside the controller and are maintained even if you unplug it.
A long permanently-attached cord and removable faceplate round out the package. If you step up to the Afterglow version, you’ll lose the faceplate support but gain PDP’s fun LED’s, but the controllers are otherwise identical. The only other negative I should quickly mention is that you can’t turn on the console with the controller, but that’s not a huge deal for me personally.
This controller packs in an impressive amount of value and functionality for its low price, and it doesn’t feel obviously cheap or stupid like so many third-party options of the past. It’s impressively comfy to use and puts out great headphone audio. I reach for it first whenever I want to play my Switch docked with headphones, and even though I’ve logged dozens of hours of play on the pad over the last several months, it still feels solid.
It’s natural to be skeptical of third-party input devices, but this PDP model really changed my mind. If you want a headphone jack for your docked Switch and don’t mind the loss of rumble, I recommend this controller without hesitation!