When it comes to VR controllers over the years I have had the opportunity to try almost all of the mainstream devices. Below I am going to briefly cover the top 3 VR controllers I’ve used to date.
When I first tried the HTC Vive controllers, they felt so intuitive with the trigger and thumbpad combo, but first-person shooters that required more complex actions made these controllers difficult to use for navigating and intricate actions. I find the weight helps keep the controllers in your hand, but due to their bulkiness makes it difficult to do actions where the controllers need to be close together (stacking blocks, reloading weapons, etc). As these controllers date back to 2016 they were first movers in the Tethered-PC space so we will hope for improvements in the near future. Overall I would give these controllers a 6/10
The Oculus Quest/Rift S controllers (a lightly upgraded version from the Rift controllers) provide good ways to navigate in-game due to their joystick on each controller. Also, having both back and side triggers allow for different finger positions when interacting with objects in-game. Lightweight makes them easy to use as well. One consideration with these controllers is they do require batteries so ensure to have rechargeable batteries to keep the gaming going! One criticism about the controllers is once the controller becomes sweaty, the battery covers are known to slide off in your hands during intense movements. In past experiences without wearing wrist straps during Beat Saber (I know, dumb idea), I’ve sent controllers flying across the room while I stand there holding the battery cover. Overall score on these is 8/10, I would love to see them lose the battery replacement concept
Last, but definitely not least, are the Valve Index controllers. Sometimes referred to as “the knuckles” these controllers in my opinion top all the rest in terms of comfort, easy to use, and allow for complex actions/interactions. The valve controllers use the joysticks similar to the oculus and also contain a small thumbpad like the Vive controllers. I find this very useful, as game devs can now decide to use either the joystick, thumbpad, or a combination of both (Half-life: Alyx does this) for navigation. Also, instead of side/back triggers, there is an integrated touch bar that is lined with sensors that react to the hand gesture you are looking for. Instead of wrist straps, they use hand straps to keep your hand snug to the controller, which I find the most comfortable and secure out of any controller. All these factors allow for the most interactive and realistic VR experiences I have ever played. Hands down, Vive Knuckles by far the best, getting a 10/10 in my books!