Optimal Controller Layout for Competitive PvP

Now, you may be saying, Mercules, why are you breaking down control schemes now, near the end of year 2? Hasn’t everybody already decided what scheme to play on?

Well, yes, most people have already picked a scheme and stuck with it, but the advent of Private Matches may change that.

The competitive Destiny scene is about to explode, and I think it might pull in some new people who possibly haven’t thought about playing Destiny in that way before. In addition, some people who shied away from PvP may be more interested in playing now that they can match up against their own friends, and not just random people online. Plus, if I had to guess, the vast majority of you are probably still playing with the default control scheme, right? In PvE, that’s not such a hindrance, but in PvP, it can mean the difference between getting a kill, or getting killed.

Anyways, let’s get down to business. On the standard Xbox One and PS4 controllers, there are two thumbsticks, which control looking and moving, 2 triggers and 2 bumpers, and 4 letter or shape buttons on the right hand side (which I’ll refer to as face buttons). Each of the sticks also has the ability to click in, which registers as another button. Everybody knows this, so why am I talking about it?

In PvP, you want to keep your fingers on the thumbsticks as much as possible. Every time you take your finger off the thumbstick to jump, crouch, reload your weapon, etc, you open yourself up to a brief moment of vulnerability while you can’t aim. I mention this now because I’ve been recommending Icarus as a tier-1 perk for HCs, but many people have been commenting to tell me they thought it was a garbage option. I was confused as to why so many people assumed this, until I realized that the majority of control schemes require you to take your finger off of the right stick to jump, which throws off the ability to aim, and thus makes jumping and shooting very difficult.


For me, I’ve always played Jumper, so this was not an issue. After watching my friend play on Default, I decided it would be best to talk about the positives of leaving the Default settings behind.

First and foremost, there are 6 buttons that you can press while keeping both thumbs on the sticks: both triggers, both bumpers, and both stick clicks. This gives you six options that require no movement off of the right stick, and thus you can safely do them in combat without your aim suffering. However, for 4 of the 6 possible control schemes, Player Highlight is occupying one of those 6 slots.

In PvP, when would you ever need to highlight a player in the middle of combat? The answer is never. You will never use that button, and it’s wasting a spot that could be better used for either jumping, or crouching, depending on your base scheme.


Default has jump set to X for PS4, and A for Xbox One. It has crouch set to O or B, and it has Player Highlight as the right stick click. If you want to jump, you’ll have to briefly stop aiming, and if you want to slide or evade, you have to do the same, which makes it a weak choice for competitive PvP.


Green Thumb is an equally weak control setting, this one has right stick click and right bumper/R1 swapped, so that you melee with the right stick click and highlight with the bumper/R1. Jump and crouch are still off on the face buttons.


Cold Shoulder

With Cold Shoulder, Grenade now goes to right bumper/R1, melee to right stick click, and Player Highlight goes to left bumper/L1. Jump and crouch are still on the face buttons as X,A and O,B.



Mirror switches the ADS and shoot triggers, the melee and grenade buttons, and the player highlight and sprint stick clicks. All those which were on the right are now on the left, and vice versa. Again, jump and crouch remain on the face buttons.

So basically, you would never want to use any of these four in competitive games. Every time you slide or jump, you leave yourself vulnerable for the split second it takes you to reacquire your aim.



Jumper is my preferred choice, because of things like this:

[gfycat data_id=”IndolentTeemingAlbertosaurus”]

Grenade switches from left to right bumper, jump to left bumper, and melee comes down to the right stick click. Activate Super goes from LB+RB,L1+R1 to A,X, and the bumper combo is now used to Player Highlight. I love this scheme, as it let’s me jump to my heart’s content without ever having to remove my finger from the stick. The only reason it’s not completely perfect is that you still have to move a finger to crouch.

Activating your super with this layout is no issue for the majority of classes. Nightstalker is the only subclass that I feel like doesn’t perform well with Jumper. You have to move your finger off the aiming stick to activate the bow, and it can make it difficult to acquire moving targets. On top of that, it’s not always optimal to Shadestep without being able to aim. However, for every other class, I highly recommend Jumper.



Puppeteer is slightly less popular to me, because it still lacks the ability to jump without having to remove your thumb from the stick, but it’s better than the first four by far, simply because it switches Player Highlight from right stick click to B,O, and allows you to crouch with the right stick click. Everything else remains the same as Default, but that one change can make a significant difference, especially for Twilight Garrison Titan’s, slide-shotgunning players, and Shadestep Nightstalkers.


What’s Best?

If you’re looking to try a different control scheme, pick either Jumper or Puppeteer. It’ll take a week or two to really get used to the new button or buttons, but when you do it will be like night and day. You’ll be faster at movement, and find yourself engaging and winning in situations that would be much harder with the default controls.

Choose whether you want to focus your abilities on jumping, or crouching, and then pick either Jumper, or Puppeteer, respectively.

Other Options

If you have a PS4, you can reassign whatever buttons you like. I see a very popular option is taking Puppeteer, and switching Grenade and Jump, but you can mess around with a bunch of different options.

You can buy a custom controller, from companies like Scuf, or even an Xbox One Elite controller, if you have $150 laying around. The paddles or buttons on the back of these custom controllers allow you to set what you’d like, and ignore the face buttons entirely if you choose.

Or, you could learn to play with the Claw grip.



Please, if you’re still playing on Default and want to get into or improve at PvP, switch to the Jumper or Puppeteer control schemes. As a general rule of thumb, Jumper is best for jumping, Puppeteer is best for evading and sliding. I recommend Puppeteer for Nightstalkers using Shadestep, evading Titans, and anyone who likes to slide-shotgun.

I recommend Jumper for everyone else. It’ll take you a week or two to get used to it, and then you’ll wonder how you ever played before.

For more controller tips, check out this video: