Astro C40 TR Review
When it comes to elite controllers, Microsoft hit it out of the park when they launched their high end controller a few years ago. Despite the high asking price of about 179.99, the controller was incredibly hard to find upon release, and people loved the ability to swap parts, and create a control specifically for them. Microsoft proved you can release an overly expensive item, and have success in the marketplace. But that controller is specific to the Xbox One. What about the PlayStation 4? Enter Astro Gaming.
If you’ve been playing games for a long while now, the name Astro should be fairly familiar to you. No, it’s not a company that is known for controllers, but instead one that specializes in high end audio experiences. And for many years now, Astro has been at the top of the gaming headset marketplace, and for good reason: their headsets are built extremely well, and have some of the best performance available right now. While it comes at a bit of surprise that Astro would venture into the controller marketplace, they have the talent to pull it off. But did they do it right with the Astro C40 TR? Let’s take a look.
Similar to the Xbox One Elite Controller, the Astro C40 TR is presented to gamers in a great way, with a special carrying case that holds all the replaceable parts, a small screwdriver, a charge-and-play cable, and a wireless dongle. There is extra room for future accessories which I believe Astro plans to sell soon. So why buy the Astro C40 TR? Customization.
While the Xbox controller allows gamers to swap out thumb sticks and d-pads, the Astro C40 TR takes that one step further. You can also swap out those components, but you can also move the entire pod to a new location on the controller. For those familiar, PlayStation controllers have always had both thumb sticks at the bottom of the controller, with the d-pad to the top left and the buttons to the top right. Xbox controllers, on the other hand, use an offset approach, with one thumb stick in the upper left, and one thumbstick in the lower right.
One of the main reasons I was not an early adopter of the PlayStation 4 was because of the controller. As a longtime Xbox player, it was extremely hard for me to adapt to the Dual Shock 4; now I don’t have to, since I can swap the pods around to create a controller that is like an Xbox controller, but compatible with my PS4.
And swapping the pods is easier than I would have imagined. Simply remove the 4 screws on the faceplate and lift the pods out of place, moving them to a new desired location, connecting them using hand magnets and a clip and grove mechanism to make sure they are centered and connect properly. Then replace the faceplate and you are ready to go! While I thought using a small (very specific) screwdriver would be a hassle, my entire swap took less than 30 seconds.
And once it’s together, the controller performs incredibly well, thanks to a host of software options should you connect your controller to a PC. Alongside the ability to change button mapping, and even assign buttons to small triggers on the back, a host of other options can be changed as well, including how much you’ll need to pull the triggers before a shot is fired in a FPS.
The only unsatisfying thing about this controller from a buttons perspective is the d-pad, which is recessed a bit too far and doesn’t have a satisfying feel when pressed. I often wondered if I was pressing anything at all. The other slight design flaw is the oversized triggers, which can easily be pressed accidently, which sucks when trying to creep fast freakers in Days Gone!
There are a few other minor hiccups too, which you wouldn’t want to see in a $250 Canadian controller. You cannot actually turn your PS4 on and off with this device, so that will have to be done manually. It also doesn’t connect directly to the system either, which means you will play with it wired, or use a wireless dongle which removes a valuable USB port from use. The controller is also useless in PSVR titles that require a Dual Shock 4, notably Astro Bot!
Aside from that, this is a controller that is appealing to a specific audience: pro gamers. It is an incredibly durable controller, and the ability to customize the layout is a huge plus. If you plan to spend dozens of hours per week on your system, or want that Xbox controller feel on your PS4, this is a fantastic option. If you play casually, it’s probably good to pass on this product.