Best Nintendo Controllers To Play Zelda: Tears Of the Kingdom

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The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is an outstanding game for both TV and handheld play. While many players use Nintendo’s Switch Pro controller or Joy-Con controllers, neither provide the optimal gaming experience for Tears of the Kingdom. To enhance convenience and comfort, it is recommended to play the game with a controller equipped with remappable back buttons.

Like many players, you may have encountered frequent button mispresses due to the game’s numerous inputs. Even if you manage to press the correct buttons, the controls can still be bothersome. You often need to remove your thumbs from the sticks to perform actions such as cycling through weapons, jumping, swimming, or even running. Additionally, the A button is heavily used to collect the abundant resources and gear scattered throughout Hyrule. Over time, these demanding controls can become genuinely uncomfortable, particularly during extended gaming sessions, which are easily possible with Tears of the Kingdom.

Fortunately, several Nintendo Switch controllers can significantly enhance your gameplay experience by minimizing thumb movements. I have personally tested and reviewed all the controllers listed below, including options for both handheld and docked modes. In addition to official Switch controllers, there are also some exceptional third-party alternatives that offer excellent performance, despite not being specifically designed for the Switch. Please note that Amiibo scanning is not possible with any of these controllers, and features like rumble and motion controls may vary.

To delve deeper into Tears of the Kingdom, explore our comprehensive guides hub featuring tips, tricks, and walkthroughs. And if you’re looking to express your passion for the game with Zelda-themed merchandise, don’t miss our curated selection of The Legend of Zelda products.

Hori Split Pad Pro  Split Pad Compact

Hori Split Pad Pro / Split Pad Compact

Hori’s Split Pad line has long been the top choice for handheld gaming on the Nintendo Switch. Its popularity stems from the much-needed ergonomic support it provides, with traditional handles that greatly enhance comfort during gameplay. The Split Pad Pro boasts larger sticks, buttons, triggers, and even includes a pair of remappable back buttons that are conveniently placed and offer a solid feel.

For those with smaller hands or a preference for a more compact design, the Split Pad Compact is an excellent alternative. It retains all the features of its larger counterpart but comes in a smaller form factor, featuring appropriately scaled buttons, triggers, and sticks. The Split Pad Compact’s contoured design ensures excellent ergonomics.

However, one drawback of the Split Pad controllers, including the Tears of the Kingdom edition, is that the back buttons are only functional for the corresponding side they are located on. In other words, you cannot map two face buttons to the back buttons simultaneously. As a workaround, it is recommended to assign a face button function to the right back button and use the left side for a different command. For example, mapping Link’s ability wheel to the left back button proves to be a popular choice among users.

It’s important to note that the Split Pad series lacks rumble functionality, NFC support for Amiibo, and gyro controls. While Hori is set to release a Tears of the Kingdom-themed edition of the Split Pad Pro, it is unfortunate that it will not be available until August 31. However, interested customers can pre-order it now to secure their copy.

NexiGo Gripcon

NexiGo Gripcon

The NexiGo Gripcon is a handheld Switch controller featuring ergonomic handles, traditional joysticks, and larger buttons. While its controls may not match the Split Pad’s quality, the Gripcon excels in the realm of back buttons. With four customizable back buttons, the Gripcon offers greater flexibility in control customization compared to the Split Pad. Notably, each back button can be mapped to any input, regardless of side, allowing for a significant transformation in your Tears of the Kingdom gameplay. For instance, one effective layout involves assigning all four face buttons to the back buttons.

Similar to the Split Pad series, the Gripcon is compatible with both the Nintendo Switch OLED and the regular Switch. It includes gyro motion controls and rumble functionality (without HD rumble), although it lacks NFC support for Amiibo integration.

8BitDo Ultimate

8BitDo Ultimate / Pro 2 Controller

In docked mode, the 8BitDo Ultimate and 8BitDo Pro 2 are excellent alternatives to the Switch Pro controller. 8BitDo is a top-tier third-party controller manufacturer for the Switch, known for producing high-performing and affordable controllers. These two options stand out due to their built-in back buttons, which are conveniently located and provide a more natural feel compared to other controllers with back buttons.

While both controllers are impressive, there are some differences between the Ultimate and Pro 2. The Ultimate retains the offset joystick layout similar to Nintendo’s Pro controller, while the Pro 2 features aligned, PlayStation-style sticks. Additionally, the Ultimate utilizes Hall Effect sensors for its joysticks, which effectively prevents stick drift. There is also a price disparity: the Ultimate comes bundled with a charging dock and is priced at $70, whereas the Pro 2 is sold separately for $50.

Besides the back buttons, these 8BitDo controllers offer other customizable features that are beneficial for Tears of the Kingdom (and other Switch games). Through the 8BitDo Ultimate software, available on mobile, PC, and Mac, you can recalibrate stick and trigger sensitivity, adjust rumble strength, and even create macros. Both controllers can store up to three unique controller profiles. With the Ultimate software, you can also easily modify the default control layout by remapping any button as desired.

Both the Ultimate and Pro 2 include gyro motion controls and rumble functionality. However, it’s worth noting that neither controller supports scanning Amiibo.

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