As the granddaddy of performance controllers, it’s no surprise that many have played catch-up to Scuf for the better part of a decade as it has continued to iterate on and improve its controller designs with the goal of creating the ultimate experience for players who strive to be the best. The team’s latest controller, the Scuf Instinct Pro, is the pinnacle of more than ten years of research and development to create a gamepad that’s not only extremely comfortable thanks to its stellar ergonomics, but one which pushes the bar even higher for what a controller should be.
Scuf Instinct Pro
Scuf Instinct Pro – Design and Features
At first glance, you might mistake the Scuf Instinct Pro for Microsoft’s very own Xbox Wireless Controller, as the two are nearly identical in shape and size. Modeled after the updated Xbox Series X|S controller, the Instinct Pro features a slightly smaller body, as well as the new Share button. What sets the two apart, however, is the attention to detail given to just about every aspect of the controller – from paddle placement to materials used.
The best controllers are those that don’t require you to think too much while using them. So many “pro”-level controllers add extra buttons, paddles, and switches to various locations around the controller that – while helpful for providing additional inputs – don’t ever feel natural during use. The Scuf Instinct Pro’s four customizable paddles, on the other hand, are effortless to use, allowing you to hold the controller as you normally would, while being able to press each one with ease.
The four paddles are located on the rear of the controller just along the base. The two primary paddles are integrated right into the grips and are slightly raised so your middle fingers can easily find them as you hold the controller. The other two paddles are wedge-shaped, and adjacent to the primary paddles. Together these act as a natural resting point for your middle finger – the pad on one paddle and the side of the tip on the other – letting you activate either with ease.
The primary paddles are designed with a bit of resistance, which avoids any accidental button presses during gameplay. The secondary paddles have a bit more give, compensating for how you press them diagonally with the outer portion of your middle finger. The difference in tension makes all four paddles feel equally good to press without adding any additional fatigue during gameplay.
Aside from the redesigned paddles, the rear triggers have been given an overhaul, as well. Gone are the days of adding stops to the back of your controller or fine-tuning with a key to limit the amount of travel in each trigger. Instead, there’s a simple toggle just above each set of paddles that can easily be flipped on or off to activate the instant triggers. These require almost no actuation when active, as opposed to the normal travel you’d expect from analog triggers, and have a snappy click that feels nearly identical to that of a mouse on PC. The result is a trigger that can be rapidly pressed to fire weapons with incredible speed and little effort.
The Instinct Pro comes with four interchangeable thumbsticks: two standard concave thumbsticks, a short convex one for quicker movement, and a tall convex for more precise aiming. Thumbsticks are easily installed by removing the magnetic faceplate and inserting your desired configuration into each slot. All four thumbsticks are slightly angled around the edges to keep your thumbs from slipping off during gameplay, and each is wrapped in a semi-soft rubber grip that strikes the perfect balance between comfort and durability.
On the front of the controller are your standard face buttons that look and feel identical to Microsoft’s first-party offering. The Instinct Pro also comes with the new hybrid D-pad by default, although you can configure it with a directional D-pad (or order one separately to easily swap between) if you desire. At the bottom of the controller, you’ll find a 3.5mm port for wired headsets, as well as Microsoft’s proprietary expansion port. Thankfully, it’s compatible with the vast number of expansion products such as keyboard peripherals, speakers, and yes, even those that add more mappable buttons if you’re so inclined. There’s also an integrated mute button at the base of the controller that lets you quickly turn off your headset’s microphone without fumbling your controls.
Most importantly, the Instinct Pro feels fantastic in the hands. Instead of metals and other heavy materials used in similar high-end controllers to convey a “premium” feel, Scuf opted for lightweight materials to reduce fatigue during long game sessions. The end result weighs an astonishing 280 grams, making it just a tad lighter than the standard Xbox Wireless Controller, and nearly 20% lighter than the Xbox Elite Wireless Series 2 controller.
The grip on the rear of each handle is superb. It features a unique hexagonal pattern that gets thicker as it reaches the edges of the handles, providing more grip where your hands actually make contact with the controller and less friction towards the center. This hexagonal theme runs along the thumbsticks, rear triggers, and bumpers, creating a subtle, yet cohesive design throughout the controller.
As far as battery goes, you may be disappointed to find out that the Scuf Instinct Pro utilizes two AA batteries, as opposed to the built-in battery of its predecessor, the Scuf Prestige. While an integrated rechargeable battery could have easily been justified given the price point, the design decision is understandable. Most pro players will likely opt to play wired anyhow, as this provides the lowest latency experience and reduces overall weight. Thankfully, the Instinct Pro is compatible with the Xbox Play & Charge kit, so you can use your existing rechargeable battery if you wish.
Scuf Instinct Pro – Software
The Scuf Instinct Pro features three built-in customizable profiles that allow you to quickly swap your settings for specific games on the fly. Even better, buttons can easily be mapped without needing to connect to your computer or Xbox through a third-party app. Each profile is color-coded, indicated by a small light below the mute button on the face of the controller. To remap any of the buttons to one of the four rear paddles, you simply press and hold the profile button for a moment, followed by a simultaneous press of one of the paddles and any button of your choosing. The ability to quickly jump between different games without needing to reconfigure your entire controller is a fantastic addition.
As for connectivity, the Instinct Pro utilizes Bluetooth to pair to Xbox or PC wirelessly, and is also compatible with iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and Android.
Scuf Instinct Pro – Gaming
The Scuf Instinct Pro performed exceptionally in every game I threw its way – ranging from casual to competitive titles. Truthfully, I was most impressed with the triggers, especially in a competitive game like Apex Legends. When engaged, the instant triggers were snappy and extremely responsive, allowing me to get the jump on my opponent in just about every firefight. The mouse-like click felt fantastic and led to far less fatigue when shooting semi-automatic weapons that require rapidly tapping the trigger to fire.
Being able to quickly adjust the triggers mid-game in something like Warzone is fantastic as you can release the triggers while driving a vehicle, and re-engage the instant triggers before entering into a gunfight – giving you the best of both worlds – all done in the moment without having to tinker with tools or software.
The angled edge around the thumbsticks also ensured my fingers didn’t slip off while gliding, jumping, and sliding all over Kings Canyon. As a player who frequently finds himself readjusting grip during gameplay due to the nature in which I hold the thumbsticks, this was a subtle, yet welcome change. I was surprised to find that even the short convex stick held up extremely well when performing quick maneuvers. The rear grip on the controller also kept my hands comfortable and firmly in place.
Mapping the inputs to the rear paddles was a breeze, and I was able to comfortably play entire matches while keeping my fingers primarily on the thumbsticks as intended. The paddles themselves were easy to press and I never even had to think twice while using them. In fact, before too long the paddles became second nature, which is exactly what you want with these types of controllers. Every millisecond counts in competitive games, and the more effortless your controller is to use – the better.