I’ve known about KontrolFreeks since they were first a thing. I’ll be honest though, I didn’t see the point. As a manager at GameStop, I did take a chance on them one day, buying the Black Ops 4 themed ones, not liking them immediately, and returning them the next day. Was it a one time thing? Was I just not adjusted to them? Are they too powerful for me to handle? Well, KontrolFreek sent us a big ‘ole box of thumbsticks (that unboxing below), covering nearly every type they have available, and I have thoughts.
First off, let me mention that I have smaller hands, so it makes sense as to my initial impression from the BO4 thumbsticks. Depending on what model you’re using, there is going to be a gap in the kind of adjustment you’re going to need. It’s confusing for your thumbs to be used to a specific position and degree of movement and have that change, so give it a moment. Otherwise, you’re like me several years back.
That said, popping these on for the first time is incredibly easy. You simply take the thumbstick out of the package, place it over the desired thumbstick (right or left), and press down until the plastic teeth get a firm grip on the outside of the original thumbstick. Voila, you’re done. The first thing I’ve noticed is that on standard controllers the attachment is perfect, with no wiggle to mess with your thumbstick movement.
Even so, it’s not permanent, with the KontrolFreeks being easily removable with a simple pull. The toughest part is keeping your original thumbstick still while you affix the KontrolFreek thumbstick. Beyond that, my only worries are the pull on the original stick during removal and the possibility of the plastic teeth ripping at the rubber cap of your original thumbstick if you’re regularly swapping them in and out. For the record, I’ve not had that happen at all in my time using them, but with a connection that tight, it can leave you uneasy.
Once these are on, it’s time to put them to work. As I mentioned before, it takes a moment to get used to them, but once things are rolling they aren’t that difficult to use. What I like the most about the different ones are the rubber caps, made intentionally to help maintain grip. They’re definitely better than what comes stock, and especially with some games having intense moments it’s nice to not be worried about your thumb slipping.
That leads into the promise of better accuracy, which is achieved by giving you more height on your existing thumbsticks. Essentially, the higher you go, the more movement you have available, giving you more control. It’s simple in theory, but the peeps at KontrolFreek have it all figured out.
This works differently depending on what sticks you have. There are low-rise (short), mid-rise (medium), and high-rise (tall). Because of that choice, you can customize to your comfort level, game type, or play style. It’s also a good way to move up gradually, allowing you to get to the point where high-rise feels more natural.
I will say, using them now felt better than I expected. The low-rise are more or less covers, and, beyond looking cool, adding color, or having sweet designs, the grip they add is absolutely worth it. Mid-rise starts to push you out of your comfort zone, and of course high-rise almost adds another stick on top of the original. But, the high-rise isn’t as tough to adjust to as you might think, especially if you play a lot of a specific game. You’ll acclimate, and these actually slow you down, with required extra effort to move your reticle on the right stick. They also allow you to center more easily, given you’re not moving your aim around nearly as much as beforehand.
The cool thing about all of these is there’s really something for everyone. In the box we showed off earlier, you’ll see a lot of different types, and they’re based on the genre of games you might play, and specific games. One thing that isn’t given enough credit as well, they look awesome. The Diablo, Destiny 2, and Modern Warfare II logos and designs are sharp, and the genre specific ones are slick as well. Some come in different colors as well, allowing you to pick your poison.
Beyond just appearance, the thumbsticks are made for specific purposes. CQC didn’t add a lot of height, but felt nice while playing Atlas Fallen given the intense platforming and movement. FPS Frenzy didn’t change my left stick much, but the aiming of the tall right stick made for tighter control when engaging in gunfights in Modern Warfare II. The Omni work well with sports mainly because you really don’t need a lot of extra precision (they’re short). But, the added texture for grip helps with longer sessions in a simulation, helping you to not lose a match because of a slip up. Can you use the FPS Frenzy NBA 2K, or the CQC with Battlefield? Sure, but the team at KontrolFreek have done their homework to set you up with the optimum fit.
Speaking of optimum fit, I don’t think I ever thought a foam ring would ever be useful in helping me aim a weapon. Precision rings aren’t going to be for everyone, but I’m surprised to say something this basic can be advantageous. I first started using them with Halo Infinite, and I could see how they might allow you to slow down a bit, but they seemed restrictive. This was without my adjusting settings at all, and in my head I imagined they might be more like a runner’s weights, but I was worried taking them off would make you lose your learned control.
Then, I watched a video of someone using them with a higher sensitivity. Suddenly, it all made sense. I kid you not, I turned my stick sensitivity in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II from 7 to 18, and with the precision ring I barely saw a difference. The fact that I had ANY control in the slightest is incredible to me. They keep you in line, allowing you to aim with precision while also giving you the option to suddenly pull a 180 with a more forceful press. It may not necessarily be the way I prefer to play, but what these unlock can change the way you play.
While David is fairly new to the KontrolFreek lifestyle and provides a fantastic entry level perspective on them, an experienced KontrolFreek user (editor Noah Rigsby here) can pass along years of knowledge from experience using their line of products. The high-rise level are must-haves for my gaming arsenal, and now controllers feel awkward without them. The stability, consistency, and comfort can be applied and utilized for all genres of gaming.
The best mindset when engaging KontrolFreeks for the first time is sticking with them. The different elevation of your thumbs will feel awkward initially, but after a few play sessions, you won’t look back. Wear and tear does happen similar to other gaming products, with the primary reason for replacements being the worn out textured grip. Similar to changing the oil in a vehicle, the more you play the more often you’ll want to replace them. I game roughly 5-10 hours a week and pick up replacement sticks every 3 months, so use that as a baseline. With most Kontrol Freeks running around fifteen to eighteen dollars, keeping yourself refreshed isn’t too hard on the wallet.
If you’re interested in picking up your own, go to this link and find the KontrolFreeks that fit your style!
David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.
KontrolFreek Action Adventure CQC Thumbsticks
I don’t know that they’re necessary, but they’re certainly beneficial. KontrolFreek thumbsticks and precision rings unlock a new dimension of your controller, and if you’re okay with an adjustment period, can improve your game. Not to mention, they’re pretty sweet looking.