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A Very Good All-Round Game Controller, With One Major Flaw (for Me)

A quick review of the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller

The controller in question, in black and in its charging cradle. It’s standing in front of my Nintendo Switch, and next to an Apple TV with an Anbernic RG35XX on top.

I mostly play boring strategy 🖇️ games that are just as good to play with a trackpad as anything else.

But every so often, I’ll play something that’s best played with a controller. That’s usually on my Switch, where I’ve used the joy-cons with a charging grip — but that’s never been great. Also, my joy-cons have started to drift…

So I wanted to buy a single controller that could fit all my use-cases, and my choice fell on the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller 🖇️. And it’s a great controller, with many smart features. But did you know that a controller can support 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth, Switch, PC, Steam Deck, Android, iOS and iPadOS, but not support macOS?? Well, I didn’t.

You can find a better alternative for almost every use-case

When I got the controller, I compared it to the official Switch Pro Controller, the Xbox One Controller, and the 8BitDo Pro 2 Controller 🖇️, and here are my findings:

  • When playing on the Switch, the official Pro controlled has better rumble, and ergonomics I slightly prefer. Also, it’s nicer that the official controller doesn’t have analog shoulder buttons, as the console doesn’t support that anyway.
    • However, you can configure the 8BitDo controller so that the Z buttons fire immediately while connected to a Switch!
  • I also prefer the ergonomics of the Xbox One controller (and probably the newer ones as well, but I haven’t tried those).
  • The D-pad on the 8BitDo Pro 2 is in a nicer spot for games that emphasise that over the left analog stick.

The 8BitDo Pro 2 has both analog sticks on the inside, and the D-pad under the natural left thumb position.

The Pro 2 is also a great (perhaps even better) alternative, depending on your layout preferences.

However, it’s a great all-rounder

  • It looks great, seems well-made, and has a pretty fair price.
  • The charging dock also looks great, and works well. It also hides the 2.4Ghz dongle in the base — and if you power the dock from your PC, the dongle is automatically connected!
  • Pretty good software, and support for profiles.
  • Also has two programable back paddle buttons.
  • Hall Effect joysticks feel good, and don’t drift.
  • Great D-pad (even better than Nintendo’s own!) and face buttons.
  • Support for many platforms. (Just not every platform! 😠)

Product photo from 8BitDo showing the paddle buttons on the backside.

What I like about it, is that every part of the experience is at least good, whether your playing Switch, PC, 2D or 3D titles.

However, why on earth did they go through all that trouble, and then just not support macOS? It’s especially annoying because the old and cheaper Pro 2 controlled does support every platform the Ultimate supports, and macOS! 1

The reasons I went for the Ultimate, and not the Pro 2, was the charging dock and that I had a theory that the Pro 2 is more worse for Zelda than the Ultimate is worse for Dead Cells. But if I had known about the lack of macOS support, I think I simply would’ve waited — as 8BitDo comes with updates pretty often.

But, if you don’t need Mac support, I can absolutely recommend the Ultimate controller - but I’d also take a look at the Pro 2. They’ve also just released a version of that with Hall Effect sticks!

  1. The issue is D-input support, and not just X-input. Not that I really know the difference… Also, the Pro 2 doesn’t support 2.4 GHz, and only Bluetooth. But I’m not sure if that’s a significant drawback. ↩︎