Sony’s announcement of the back button attachment was fairly surprising. With only months left in the generation, and similar licensed products existing on the market for years (as well as the Xbox Elite Controller), it’s not clear why Sony waited so long to introduce such a product, but it works well, and I’m now incredibly hopeful that this is our first glimpse at the DualShock 5. I’ve already had a bunch of people ask what this accessory does and fairly simply, it is designed to add two extra buttons to your controller that can be used in any game.
Pulling the Back Button Attachment out of the box, it’s incredibly tiny. It slips onto the bottom of your controller via that tiny port on the bottom (that has gone unused for all of these years) and also into the 3.5mm audio jack. This is in order to provide audio out through the attachment. It’s easy enough to get on and off, whilst still remaining sturdy on the controller (without ever feeling loose or that it’s going to fall off).
There’s two buttons on the back of the attachment, that end up sitting exactly where your ring fingers are. My hand positioning on the controller did require a little bit of an adjustment, and the controller does feel noticeable bulkier (thanks to the OLED screen on the attachment), particularly around the PlayStation button, but for the most part, it seamlessly fits into your existing DualShock 4 experience that you’ve known for the last six or so years.
The buttons can only be pressed on the outer sides, which means that it’s almost impossible to hit them accidentally. This means that you do have to get your finger positioning right, which does take a little getting used to, but it’s a better solution than having the whole physical button acting as the trigger. The buttons feel really tactile, and give off a satisfying click, so you’re never wondering if you’ve actually hit the buttons.
The attachment has three different profiles by default, and you can set each button to be programmed to a variety of 16 different uses (Triangle, Square, Cross, Circle, D-Pad Left, Up, Right, Down, L1, L2, L3, R1, R2, R3, Options, Nothing Set).
This may surprised you, but the attachment has an OLED screen that is used to change profiles and set profiles. Double tapping the screen will change between the three profiles and a long press of the screen will allow you to hold down either button to cycle through the 16 available presets. It is a bit over the top, but it does work well and means you don’t have to use any external software in order to set your button presets. It also only stays on for a few seconds, which means that it doesn’t drain the battery more than required.
Something worth mentioning is that because the button charging port is taken up, you won’t be able to use the official DualShock 4 charging dock (which launched alongside the console) or any other charging dock that uses the bottom port. You will need to use the Micro-USB port that is on top of the controller to charge it.
Over the weekend I spent a good amount of time playing Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare with the Back Button Attachment and once I got used to it, it definitely helped my gameplay. I was able to keep my two thumbs on the analogue sticks, my index finger and middle finger on the four triggers and use my ring fingers on the back buttons to reload and change weapons. This meant that my thumbs never had to leave the analogue sticks.
I was finding myself going back to pressing the regular button, as obviously the DualShock has had largely the same buttons for 20 years, so it’s definitely an adjustment to change your muscle memory, but once I did, I found that my gameplay was significantly improved.
Now, the Back Button Attachment is $50 and obviously this is a pretty decent amount of money, but I’d definitely suggest it’s worth the price of upgrading if you play games that require you to have your fingers on a decent amount of buttons at any given time. I’d think that this is a way of making the DualShock 4 more forwards compatible as well, so hopefully this won’t be redundant when next-gen rolls around.
The DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment is a solid add-on at a fairly reasonable price. It's incredibly easy to use and will allow you to get a competitive edge without breaking the bank or needing to be a technical expert. If this is a glimpse at the DualShock 5, it's an incredibly promising one.