Customised controllers have never been so popular, we even have our own exclusive designs available over at the controllermodz.co.uk website. However it can often be quite pricey for custom designs (especially if you get them modded) and some people find it hard to part with their beloved moolah. For those who want to save money you have two options; Option 1, buy the parts you want and customise the controller yourself or Option 2, buy a silicone cover to give it a bit of personality without having to open anything up. Now the problems for Option 1 are that you’ll void any warranty the controller has and you could end up breaking it, meaning you have to fork out for a new controller and all that effort you put in would be a waste. Issues that arise with Option 2 are that some silicone covers can fit poorly and feel cheaply made so it can often be a difficult task trying find a decent looking one which is made to a high quality. Now I’m going to help some of you who fancy Option 2 by looking at the Pandaren PS4 silicone skin with straps (available from Amazon) to see if it is worth your money buying them or not.
Now I was lucky enough to be sent a few samples of these silicone skins for my PS4 controller because they come in many different colours which are Black, White, Blue, Camouflage Blue, Red and Camouflage Red. The benefit of being sent multiple skins is that as well as being able to make my controller match my outfit it also helps my review because if I was sent a defected one I wouldn’t know if it was a common issue or a one off problem. Luckily there were no manufacturing errors as far as I could see which was a good start.
Now these particular skins are specifically designed to only cover half of your controller due to the complaints some people make about full covers interfering with joysticks and buttons on the PS4 controller. This isn’t an issue I have ever had particular issues with having bought a ZedLabz skin for my Xbox One controller which works fine, but I guess it may just be a personal preference or an excuse sore losers use when things don’t go their way in a game. Anyway the skin slots around the grips for your hand and wraps around the back of the controller with openings n the skin for the L1, L2, R1 and R2 buttons as well as the light bar and the reset button (at least I think that’s what it is). Then on the right hand side you also have a little wrist strap made out of the same silicone material like the Wii remote has so you never have to worry about dropping your controller again; that’s the theory anyway.
On first use it felt a little strange having the silicone skin on the controller and I must admit it did feel a bit cheap, but I got use to it pretty quickly and I have to say it made the controller a little more comfortable to use. This was a combination of a few things I believe, the first being the material was a lot softer than the hard plastic of the controller that I was used to feeling. The second reason for t
he added comfort was due to the grip p having raised bumps which felt like it offered superior grip than the standard controller and it almost felt like it massaged my hands when they moved over the bumps. The third impressive thing was after a long gaming session where your hands begin to get sweaty, the silicone skin counters the sweat so no more slippy hands causing you issues.
Now there were a couple of issues I noticed and the first one I’ve seen before which is loose fitting of the cover on the controller. Now it wasn’t completely loose like some covers you find it was only really where the narrower piece of the material was above the light bar. This doesn’t hamper the performance in anyway and because it is at the back of the controller you can barely notice it unless you look out for it specifically. The other issue was the wrist strap, which as I mentioned acts in the same way as the Wii remote’s strap to stop you dropping it or throwing it into your TV because you’re having a bad day playing your favourite game (remember it’s not your fault, the computer just cheats sometimes). The issue is that the silicone material can become a little irritating against your wrist as it constantly rubs against it because unlike the Wii remote it isn’t adjustable, instead it’s one size fits all and just stretches over larger wrists. Whilst this isn’t all that bad, it does feel rather thin and I think if I threw my controller at my TV out of rage then it could possibly snap.
I was also a little suspicious of some of the claims that these skins make; they say they protect your controller from drops, shocks and scratches. Whilst the strap prevents drops and the shocks that would result from a drop (although don’t rely on it to stop throws), the skin only prevents scratches if it lands on the half of the controller that is covered. If it lands face down on the buttons then it can still be scratched pretty easily. It is also able to be scratched at the back where the charger cable goes in because there is a bit of a gap in the skin and well I try going in blind folded so it is now a little scuffed from all the times I have missed.
There is an added bonus though which should make up for the issues I did find and that is the fact the skin comes with two free thumb grips for the joysticks. These little things, like the hand grip, have small bumps on as well to give your fingers a little more comfort and to provide you with better hold on the joystick so your fingers don’t slip off the control. Now these are ok and come in the same colour as your skin so it all looks very nice, but I found the Thumb Treadz that I reviewed a while back were in fact a better fit for me and seemed to be of a much higher quality, but saying that the free ones from Pandaren still do the job just fine.
So are these Pandaren silicone skins worth their weight in gold? Well I’d have to say for £4.99 you’re unlikely to find much better than these when you factor in that they come with free thumb grips. The material isn’t of the highest quality (my ZedLabz skin for the Xbox One seemed to be better personally) and the wrist strap probably lets it down a little but it can be bought without one (although no change in price). The main thing is it looks ok and it makes using the PS4 controller a little more comfortable whilst offering better grip. It certainly is a viable option as a cheaper way to give your controller a new look and it can help improve your gaming skills too. Worthy of a respectable ⅘.
P.S. Don’t confuse this Pandaren with the race from World of Warcraft, pretty sure these aren’t made by Panda’s.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.