In amongst the whole host of thumbsticks that KontrolFreek offer all gamers on numerous formats, the Alpha thumbsticks are quite possibly the ones that scream…entry level.
But is that to say they are not worth your time?
I have to admit to never initially understanding the hype over thumbsticks. I was always happy with how my controllers felt, pointing to the fact that the Xbox One controller in particular was of such a quality that it needed very little modding. But this time last year, I was treated to my first experience using a third party thumbstick and you know what? I quite enjoyed it.
Now though, I’m more than happy to take a look at any new stick amendment that is thrown my way and the Alpha feels great to touch with its softer than the norm feel and is lovely to use. The solid black colour obviously goes extremely well with the standard Xbox One controller too, with the understated look being something of a theme for this version. The dimples are well placed but are a world away from the more complex designs that other KF products hold. If you’re looking for the simple look however, they do the job.
A ‘low-rise’ stick, the Alphas compliment the Xbox One controller impressively, grabbing both the left and right sticks well. No matter whether you’re fighting it out on Halo 5 or pounding it round the tracks in Forza 6, after an initial couple of minutes in which things will feel a little strange, the rise of less than 3mm will soon become second nature and feel ‘normal’, almost to the point where you wouldn’t know you were using them.
The width of them works well too. With a reported 53% surface increase over the standard Xbox One controller sticks, they are neither too large nor too small to cause issues and the very slight concaved bowl effect allows your thumbs to stick pretty damn well no matter how long you use them for.
In fact, due to their size, I feel that in comparison to other thumbsticks that I’ve used recently, including a ton of other KontrolFreek styles, the Alphas come in more as a thumbstick ‘covering’ as opposed to a stick enhancer. Not that that’s a bad thing as they certainly keep your original thumbsticks from wearing out, but for the price I’m not entirely sure of their place on the market.
I must however point at a slight issue I have with the one that has been planted firmly on my left stick. Granted this is the one that gets the most use, but after only a couple of weeks of use, I’ve found it to be wearing ever so slightly around the rim. Not that it is disintegrating so much that it can’t be used – far from that in fact, but I’m not sure how much longer it will last without a noticeable decrease in the aesthetics. I’d hazard a guess at a couple of months or so down the line before you’ll be looking to replace them.
Can I recommend the KontrolFreek Alpha thumbsticks? Well, if you’re looking for something that will play a part in your gaming sessions without changing things up too much and have $14 sitting around doing nothing, then they are more than worth a shot. I can however see the vast majority of users ‘moving on’ to a different style pretty soon after.
Especially if they don’t hold up under the stress of a hardcore session.
You can buy the KontrolFreek Alpha thumbsticks direct from KontrolFreek right now.