Last updated: April 2018
The stock gamepad is pretty great for most Xbox and Playstation games, but for fighting games like the upcoming Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite you really want an arcade-style fight stick. Not only do you get the requisite number of buttons to mash, in the correct form factor, but they can take a lot of punishment and give you more precision than the standard, hand-held controller that came with your console. Quick movements and rapid button presses are what fighting sticks are made for, and who doesn't love a good old joystick?
Big box stores and your favorite online retailers are swimming with options, so it can be tough to know where to start. If you need a little guidance, here are the best fighting sticks to get you started.
If you want an affordable controller that that works across all platforms, the Mayflash F300 Fighting Stick is an excellent choice at just $60. It has a sturdy base and eight buttons that are designed for smashing. The Mayflash F300 is compatible with the current and previous generation consoles, so if you have an Xbox One, 360, PS4, or PS3 then you’re all set. The only caveat is you’re required to have a standard controller connected to your console while using it.
This model was built by gaming powerhouse Razer for Xbox One and PCs that install the Xbox app. It gets high marks from reviewers for its aesthetics and premium-quality Sanwa components. The buttons are denoted by different colored icons, so it’s easy to get a quick feel for where everything is. The Atrox is also made to be customized, as the hardware opens up so you can tinker with the internal components.
This is a solid and highly-rated choice thanks to its excellent design, sturdy buttons and excellent joystick ergonomics. It's available in red, white, and blue and features the company's acclaimed Hayabusa buttons and joystick for excellent control and a real arcade feel. A hidden side panel allows you to customize the controls to your liking as well. for The Hori Real Arcade Pro 4 is officially licensed by Sony, and is compatible with PCs and the PS4 and PS3.
The Mad Catz Street Fighter V Arcade has a swanky Street Fighter logo but works with any fighting game, natch. The buttons are placed in a slight curving pattern that makes them easy to access, and there’s also a touch pad so you can use gestures, presses, or swipes for certain options. Additionally, there’s a three-way button that allows you to use the joystick as a left or right analog. It's made with durable Sanwa Denshi parts, and the chassis opens via hinges for easy modifications.
If you’re partial to Razer quality but you have a PlayStation, then this is the arcade stick for you. It’s quite similar to the Atrox model above, though with specific PlayStation buttons. PS4 gamers are used to having a touchpad for their titles, and this device includes one as well. Razer even throws in a screwdriver for any of your modding needs, such as customizing the joystick or any of the ten buttons. Its wide dimensions and subtle heft allow it to rest comfortably in your lap for hours.