One minute review
The Scuf Impact is an exemplary PS4 controller with only one problem: the price. As with all “Pro” controllers, this is a significant investment – starting at £ 134.99 (about $ 188) – about as much as you could pay for a used PS4 console. With a pad.
You probably wouldn’t buy a Scuf Impact on a whim, but we can’t help but like it.
In the “Impact” series, Scuf moves a little further away from the blueprint for PS4 DualShock and Xbox Pad. The outline is larger than both, but the rear paddle controls feel as natural as if gamepads have had paddles as standard since 2001.
All buttons are of high quality. The analog sticks do not stick (in our experience), the triggers have a short click action for a faster reaction. And while the D-Pad doesn’t feel specifically designed for Street Fighter tournaments, Scuf sells a Control Disc accessory designed to enhance the feel of those special rolling gestures.
In contrast to the controller itself, a control disc costs only a few dollars.
There are no latency issues, the number of Scuf Impact permutations is staggering thanks to all the customization options when you buy it. This isn’t an overly modular pad so you need to make these decisions fairly carefully. However, you can remove and reattach the analog embroidery caps with a small tool included in the scope of delivery.
The Scuf Impact is a brilliant third-party gamepad that offers a quality at least equal to that of a first-party pad, but with enough changes to make it appear as an evolution of the DualShock 4.
We cannot go so far as to describe the Scuf Impact as great deal, but that’s part of the territory of an avid gamepad.
DualShock 4 and more
Some high-end pads are asking you to accept a difficult reality that you are paying more for first-party suppliers and still getting fewer features. That is not the case here.
The Scuf Impact mirrors practically everything in a DualShock 4 and then adds a few extras. There are two vibration motors, the touch bar and the light bar on the back. The Scuf Impact has a built-in speaker, headset jack and motion controls.
This is also a wireless pad, making it a controller that matches that of the first party at every point.
Stroke shape and paddle
The shape and paddles are two main reasons to buy a Scuf Impact instead of saving $ 100 and buying a DualShock 4.
Scuf makes pads that emulate the style of the PS4 DualShock and Xbox pad. These are the Infinity and Prestige lines.
The impact expands the width of the pad and changes the angle of the handles a little. You could say it fits larger hands or is made for a more secure grip. These are valid observations, but our take away is the shape chosen with the use of the trigger in mind.
The Scuf Impact has four triggers on the back, which doubles the ability to press the pad’s face buttons. These feel great when there is enough space to allow the plastic paddles to curve outward rather than cramped in a limited space between the contours of the handles.
The paddles are removable. They are simple pieces of plastic that you can twist out after pushing them up from their locked position. However, the spaciousness of the Impact Pad design means that even if we use the face buttons instead, we don’t feel like we need to.
A paddle press also requires adequate pressure from the side of your middle finger so that you don’t accidentally activate it. The paddles press into tiny micro buttons on the back of the Scuf Impact.
After switching from a DualShock 4, our first two impressions were that a) the Scuf Impact’s paddles feel great and b) your hands seem further apart. If you want a small controller, you don’t want an impact.
Grip and adjustment
Scuf isn’t out to offer a small, petite controller with the Impact. And you can make it a much more grippy pad than the DualShock 4 or DualSense by choosing the “High Performance” handle when you buy it.
The Impact comes with a standard textured hard plastic surface on the back. However, the high performance option replaces this with a layer of embossed rubber.
It is probably a good addition if you play a lot of competitive games.
There are tons of other improvements too. With Scuf you can choose from 62 faceplates. The one shown here is called an energon.
You can get concave or convex analog embroidery caps. There are short and long sticks that come in seven colors. Even the mounting rings around the sticks can be a completely different shade if you’d like. And the buttons are available in 18 colors.
Obviously, we don’t think this Frankenstein monster is as important as the quality of the Impact Controller itself, but what you see here is just one of the many, many faces on the series.
Important adjustments: EMR
There are two options that you need to think a little more about. The first is EMR. This allows you to remap the paddles to emulate different face buttons.
You attach the tiny EMR magnets on the back, hold down one of the triggers and press a face button. This includes the directional pad instructions and the L3 / R3 inputs, which you can get by pressing an analog stick.
Our Scuf Impact has no EMR, so our triggers are locked to mimic the four standard buttons.
Shutter and sticks
Trigger style is one of the other impact elements to consider. Scuf offers three types. There’s a standard trigger setup, an adjustable hair trigger – which is probably the best all-round option – and what we have here is Scuf’s Digital Tap Trigger.
This makes your triggers and bumpers feel more like mouse clickers than traditional trigger buttons. The “clink” of a trigger is replaced by a much easier “click”. This is great for fast-responsive FPS games because you can hit that thing a lot faster.
After about an hour we didn’t miss the darker feel of a normal shutter either. These things feel good, but are ultimately far more limited as there are no tiered inputs. If you’re looking to play a racing or flight simulation game that has the trigger acting as the throttle, it’s 0 or 100 – all fine grain controls are removed.
When you buy a digital trigger impact controller, it becomes a pad that is best for FPS tracks only.
There are also “short” and “long” analog sticks. This is something that you choose when purchasing because you don’t have two sets in the box.
Buy a replacement kit separately and it’s pretty easy to swap out. With a small tool supplied, you can remove the locking ring on the outside and then pull off the caps.
In contrast to the Trustmatser eSwap Pro, however, this is not a really modular system. They replace the caps, not the inner workings.
We’re not sure how well the Scuf Sticks will perform after a year of regular use as their rubbery top cover is quite rubbery. That feels pretty good, and offers a lot of drag and a surface that’s softer than most of the others. However, you can feel a slight movement in this rubber during the heat of the action, suggesting it will wear out faster than a DualShock 4 stick. This seems to be a fairly common complaint.
D-pad and buttons
The Scuf Impact is a great all-rounder and FPS game controller. But what about fighting games?
The D-Pad uses the same style as a DualShock 4. The four buttons are separate islands in the pad surround. Their corners are rounded, which makes 180-degree gestures over them more convenient than on an Xbox Series X pad, for example.
And maybe our time-tested DualShock 4 buttons have gotten a little fancier over the years, but the same movements feel smoother here than they would on a first-party pad, too.
However, we are not convinced that this is a world class D-pad. The actuation behavior of the “Down” key is greater than that of the “Up” key. Even so, it’s one of the better non-specialized lone warrior pads we’ve used. And Scuf offers a Control Disc accessory that increases the area of the D-Pad and turns its surface into a rubber plate.
However, this is the only criticism we have of the button feel of the SCUF Impact. The face buttons, the analog stick hit the clickers and the triggers all feel great.
Battery life and connections
The SCUF Impact is a wireless controller. Similar to a DualShock 4, you can use it with phones and PCs as well as the PS4. And it has a micro-USB port for wired use, one with a plastic border to avoid damaging the socket.
The battery lasts around 7 to 8 hours without a charge in our experience, although that number will drop if you play titles with lots of rumble effects.
With the SCUF Impact in 2021, it seems time for Scuf to switch to USB-C. But hey, it’s a PS4 controller, not a PS5 controller.
We didn’t have a PS5 to test the pad with. However, it should also work with the newer console, but without the additional functions of a DualSense pad, making it unsuitable for PS5-specific games.
We also tried plugging it into an Xbox Series X and unsurprisingly it didn’t work. It’s charging, but that’s it.
Should I buy the Scuf Impact?
Buy it when …
You want a reputable pad for FPS gaming
FPS players are likely the top SCUF impact demographics. This pad has great paddle control and the option of ultra-fast digital triggers. The shape of the Impact is comfortable for longer sessions.
You want to make a pad your own
Scuf offers a number of customization options when purchasing an Impact. These not only affect the look, but also the feel of the triggers and sticks. So we’ve only checked one of the many iterations of the Impact line.
Don’t buy if …
You are price conscious
We’re not sure if a Scuf Impact is the best buy when money is tight. The startup cost is high enough, but add color, handles, or advanced triggers and the price goes up even more. Spending that much money on a pad for a last-generation console is likely to be a challenge for many.
You want a pad for PS5
We do not recommend buying a Scuf Impact for a PS5 instead of a PS4. While it’s connected and working for PS4 games, you’ll need DualSense for PS5 games as it has a number of features that aren’t in an Impact pad.
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