With the release of so many next generation VR headsets in the past year, it’s no wonder that the VR controller market is starting to pickup. Many users are looking to enhance their VR experience with a better controller by going with a separate or enhanced controller setup. Below we have listed the best VR controllers of all shapes and sizes along with their compatible VR headsets for your review.
1. Valve Index Controller
The Valve index controller is widely lauded as the most forward thinking VR controller on the market and is an integral part of the huge success of the Valve Index VR headset. Features of the index include more natural hand interactions and advanced tracking that allows for far more intricate tasks than competing VR controllers.
To give you an idea of what this means, you can reach out and actually grab objects with your hand the same way you would in real life. Opening your hand will drop the object that you have just picked up. This kind of amazing gesture recognition is made possible by over 87 different sensors than track the positon of your hands and fingers while in use.
This includes mechanics like throwing objects, where the motion sensors detect the way the object is thrown in order to provide a realistic trajectory and velocity for the throw. In Valve’s words this creates for “an intuitive and natural-feeling throw”.
Pretty neat, huh? Let’s not forget that this hand of technology will also allow you to play rock, paper scissors with your friends in VR for hours on end!
Compatible Headsets: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Primax
2. VIVE Controller
The VIVE Controller is the original HTC Vive controller that was released all the way back in 2016 and is the primary controller for the HTC Vive and many subsequent headsets. At the time of release, it was hands down the best VR controller on the market thanks to advanced features that allowed more in-depth interaction.
Unlike the Valve Index, the VIVE controller mainly uses good old fashioned buttons and touchpads to allow you to interact with VR worlds, though with motion tracking included so you can point and interact with objects using the buttons and touchpads. This may sound boring compared to the features of the Valve Index above, but the VIVE controller makes up for its lack of cutting edge features with a very attractive price tag. Despite it’s age, it’s still firm bestseller in the VR space and a crowd favorite online.
It is also compatible with the latest VIVE Cosmos Elite headset in case you want to purchase the headset stand-alone without the standard Cosmos controllers or have one lying around from your previous VR headset.
Compatible Headsets: HTC VIVE, VIVE Pro Series, VIVE Pro Eye Series, VIVE Cosmos Elite
3. Occulus Touch Controller
Although we have only delved into the Valve and VIVE end of the VR controller spectrum thus far, this list would not be complete without a VR controller from the much hyped and hugely successful Occulus Rift line of headsets. To make things more complicated, there a few versions of the Occulus Touch controls to cover all with the same name.
The original Occulus Touch works very similarly to the VIVE Controller using motion tracking combined with traditional analog buttons and joysticks. That said, it does have a few improvements that some reviewers noted including a more lightweight fee and more thorough (if not more accurate) finger tracking. It also doesn’t include any touchpads, though the additional sensors allow for better hand gestures.
The main area where the Occulus Touch thrives is its comfort factor – the ergonomics have a noticable edge over the VIVE controller according to most reviewers, allowing for a more comfortable VR experience, especially for longer gaming and VR sessions. Unfortunately, unlike the original VIVE Controller, the Occulus Touch controllers don’t seem to be forward compatible and have been replaced by the Occulus Touch controllers above. This original Occulus Touch controllers will only work with the Occulus Rift.
Compatible Headsets: Occulus Rift
Note: The original Occulus Touch controllers are discontinued and are not forward compatible with future Occulus devices.
A second iteration of the Occulus Touch controllers was released in 2019 and to be included with the Oculus Rift S and the Oculus Quest VR headsets. This version had some minor design changes including changing the positions of the IR rings to the upper part of the device. Aside from these changes, Occulus Touch version two still maintained its great comfort factor and, more than that, also provided users with a much better price, giving it a large advantage over the VIVE controller in the budget department.
The third version of the Occulus Touch was released for the Occulus Quest 2 and features a new white design and improved battery life along with better gesture tracking. Unfortunately, the Occulus Touch V3.0 controllers have received some flak from prominent reviewers having worse tracking accuracy than previous generations, though many reviewers were also unperturbed and didn’t pick up on any problems with accuracy off the bat.
4. VIVE Cosmos Controller
Getting back on the VIVE train, the VIVE cosmos controller was recently released along side the VIVE Cosmos in 2019 and had some marked improvements over the original VIVE controller, including a more ergonomic design more in-line with the Occulus Touch controller and also improved finger tracking thanks to 6 in-built tracking cameras. On the downside, the Cosmos controllers are still quite a bit heavier than the Occulus Touch controllers despite their improved form factor.
One area where it’s clear the VIVE Cosmos stands out is its design. It’s clear HTC were going for a next generation style that can match the Cosmos’s hefty price tag. The patterns on the controllers also light up while active for extra effect.
Overall the VIVE Cosmos controllers have some nifty new features, though unfortunately they are not backwards compatible with any of VIVEs previous headsets.
Compatible Headsets: Vive Cosmos
5. Samsung Gear Controller
If you are a Samsung user and aren’t just ready to whip out a small fortune on a VR ready laptop or PC, then the Samsung Gear headset is probably your best bet. Luckily, it also has a very well received mini VR controller.
Similiar to other popular PC based VR controllers, the Gear Controller has a directional pointer combined with buttons and a touchpad and motion trackers to track movement. Keep in mind, however, that the Gear Controller is a bit-sized version of those found alongside larger PC VR headsets so don’t expect the same controls of its larger counterparts.
Despite its small size, the Gear Controller performs well and has received good reviews from most critics for its comfortable design and reliable motion tracking.
6. Playstation Move Controller
If you’re a PlayStation owner, then you’re in luck – the Playstation Move is a VR controller that can be used as a normal motion-sensor controller or with the PlayStation VR headset as a full VR controller. It received some praiseworthy reviews for its accurate and responsive sensors, though reviewers were quick to point out that its hefty price tag and also reported it can be uncomfortable to use for extended periods of time.
That hasn’t stopped the Move from securing a spot as a must-have accessory for the PlayStation VR headset and garnering excellent reviews across the web as well as contributing to the success of PlayStation VR by bringing similar VR control capabilities as leading PC based VR headsets to the PlayStation.