Bottom line: The best part about the Hex Rival is that it's essentially a DualSense clone, and the DualSense is excellent. That said, it feels like a cheap money grab that's anything but affordable for people looking to buy a controller. If any random person off the street took a DualSense and glued on a back attachment, it would be this.
- Easy button remapping
- Haptic feedback
- Two extra rear paddles
- It's just a modded DualSense
- Insanely overpriced
- Hair triggers negate adaptive trigger features
The DualSense controller is one of the best parts of the PS5 and is frequently brought up when anyone talks about "next-gen" technology. Unfortunately, most of the best PS5 controllers on the market right now are older PS4 models that happen to be compatible. If you want to get the most out of your PS5 games that support haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, you need a DualSense controller. Other companies haven't really made third-party controllers specifically for the PS5 yet... until now.
Well, sort of. HexGaming's Hex Rival PS5 controller is effectively a DualSense in every way, shape, and form. The biggest difference is a back attachment that adds two remappable paddles. In a sense, it's almost as if HexGaming modeled this after the back button attachment for the DualShock 4 controller, and honestly, that's what it looks like. It's a modded DualSense. That works in its favor in some ways because the DualSense is already an outstanding controller, but people should expect a lot more if they're going to spend nearly $300 on a glorified copy.
Hex Rival PS5 controller: Price and availability
HexGaming released the Hex Rival in June 2021 for $290, and it's currently only available on Amazon and through HexGaming's own website. There are about 18 designs you can choose from, all of which come at the same cost. These designs range from plain color swaps like white, black, yellow, red, and silver, while others are more unique, featuring different patterns like the great wave, nebula galaxy, and magic space.
Hex Rival PS5 controller: What I liked
As I mentioned in the previous section, the Hex Rival controller comes in about 18 different designs. Some of them are downright ugly, in my opinion, but I was lucky enough to receive the best-looking one to review, the great wave. If it weren't for the glossy textures of the faceplate, which make it more difficult to hold for longer periods of time — sweaty hands are a thing — it'd make for a near-perfect design. It looks incredible; it just isn't great for long gaming sessions.
Having the same exact shell as a DualSense controller also works in its favor. Sony already nailed the form factor, and as the adage goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Part of me is inclined to wish that HexGaming had put a little more effort into making a unique controller, but I can't fault them for using a tried and true design.
The bread and butter of the Hex Rival is the back attachment that sports two extra paddles. These can be mapped to 15 buttons (X, O, Triangle, Square, Up, Down, Left, Right, L1, L2, R1, R2, L3, R3, Touchpad) and are easy to remap. All you need to do is press and hold the small button on the back for a few seconds before the LED indicator glows red. Once it's red, just hold the button you wish to remap and the rear paddle simultaneously. Press the small button on the back of the attachment again, and you'll have saved your settings. Without a supported app, I appreciate how simple everything is.
The Hex Rival controller comes with six-in-one interchangeable thumbsticks at 3 different heights, with concave and convex designs, and they're easy to swap out at any time. Having interchangeable thumbsticks is always a plus in my book because it allows more players to find the perfect fit for themselves. As nice as the standard thumbsticks on the DualSense are, one size does not fit all.
Hex Rival PS5 controller: What I didn't like
The remappable back paddles are a net positive in my book, but they aren't perfect. I found that they tend to be too sensitive, so much so that I'd be constantly pressing them on accident when I was holding the controller in my natural grip — and mind you, this would happen if the side of my finger lightly brushed against the button. The slightest amount of pressure, and it clicks. That's a problem for obvious reasons. No one wants to inadvertently press buttons in the middle of a game, especially on a controller dubbed the "ultimate esports controller."
When it comes to the DualSense's signature adaptive triggers, the Hex Rival takes them out of the equation by adding a hair-trigger response, decreasing the distance it takes to register a press to just 2mm. While it does "save valuable time in competitive games," as HexGaming puts it — which I know some will appreciate — it's also not something that you can turn off or deactivate. You're stuck with those hair triggers, which means you won't feel the tension of the adaptive triggers.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention its price. At $290, it's insanely expensive for what you're buying. If it were maybe around $100, I could see it being a decent purchase, but not at the price it's currently offered.
Hex Rival PS5 controller: Competition
The Hex Rival's biggest competition is what Sony already offers, the standard DualSense controller. Not only is it much better, in my opinion, but it's also a fraction of the cost at $70. It may not have the extra back buttons, but I think that's a fair trade-off for its working adaptive triggers.
There are also premium controllers that are compatible with PS5, even if they weren't specifically designed for it: the Astro C40 TR, Scuf Vantage 2, and Razer Raiju. While they also won't support adaptive triggers or haptic feedback in the same way that the DualSense does, they're some of the best PlayStation controllers ever made.
Hex Rival PS5 controller: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You absolutely must have extra back paddles
- You really want any of the designs they offer
- You have almost $300 to throw around
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You don't want to spend a ton of money
- A standard DualSense is good enough for you
3 out of 5
I can appreciate that elements of this controller, like its hair triggers, were designed for esports and competitive gaming — it's not built for casual players. But when they remove some of the best features of the DualSense to make it an "esports controller," I don't think the sacrifices are worth it. What would have made it nicer is if the controller had a manual toggle to activate/deactivate its hair-trigger responses, much like the Astro C40 TR.
And even when it comes to competitive players, I have a hard time recommending this knowing that companies like Razer, Astro, Scuf, and more are likely working to build their own high-end PS5 controllers in the coming months. As the past has proven, each of those companies makes excellent products that are more than simple cash grabs. For $290, this is hard to recommend to anyone at the moment.
Hex Rival PS5 Controller
Bottom line: The Hex Rival somehow took a winning design and made it inferior with some odd choices. Lack of adaptive triggers and a glorified back button attachment made it hard to recommend, even if the foundation of the DualSense is solid.
Jennifer Locke is Android Central's Games Editor and has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.
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