Discussions around console controllers typically lead to an interesting conversation. It’s rare for a third party effort to match that of official controllers and given the recent proprietary features built into the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 pads, it’s become even rarer. However, given the surprising success of the Xbox One Elite controller despite its $150 price tag (which was initially thought to be far too high), third party companies are beginning to offer more high end options to consumers. Specifically for the PlayStation 4, there are two new options arriving on the market in the Razer Raiju and Nacon Revolution Pro. Today, I’ll be giving you a detailed look at the Nacon Revolution Pro.
Let me preface this review with a few notable pieces of information. First, the controller is not available in the US officially as of this moment. I’ve reached out to Nacon to inquire as to when it will be available in the US but as of now, there is no release date. Be aware however, it is available for order from overseas outlets and is 100% compatible (I’m in the US). (EDIT: It is now available in the US. You can find it via Amazon here. )As for reviewing the controller itself, I selected three games I believed would test all aspects of the Revolution Pro. Thus, I’ve spent considerable time playing Nioh (high skill, fast inputs with thumbsticks and triggers), Rogue Legacy (fast inputs with dpad and face buttons), and Uncharted 4 multiplayer (fast camera and player movements while aiming) to put the Nacon through its paces.
The Revolution Pro certainly presents itself well upon first opening the package. While the controller is front and center, you will also find the 10 foot braided cable with securing cap, a key with 6 small weights, a travel bag and cleaning cloth, instructions on the PC software for custom coding the Nacon, and a sheet of Nacon stickers. It certainly gives a positive first impression with regard to being a high-end product.
Upon first holding the Revolution Pro, I liked what I felt. The material used for the controller is smooth and feels to be of a higher quality than the plain, glossy plastic of cheaper controllers or even the standard PS4 gamepad. The thumbsticks have a greater range of motion than the standard PS4 controller and have a very smooth, precise action which is immediately noticeable. The triggers feel extremely well molded as do the shoulder buttons which respond with a very satisfying click when pressed. The face buttons demonstrate a similar level of improvement, with a more substantial engagement and solid feel to them than the standard controller. While the Revolution Pro initially feels light likely due to the lack of an internal battery, you have the option of weighting it as you desire with the enclosed weights which is a nice option. Overall, the components used feel very well made and durable out of the gate.
Thumbsticks can make or break a controller especially for those who tend to play more competitive games. Personally, I’ve never cared for the symmetrical layout and convex design of the PS4’s thumbsticks which is why I was so anxious to get my hands on the Revolution Pro. With those complaints in mind, the Nacon doesn’t disappoint. The thumbsticks are well positioned and have a much more precise movement due to the combination of the smoother action and the degree/angle at which they move (being taller gives a greater range of motion). In particular, I greatly prefer the concave design of the left thumbstick for character movement though I do question why Nacon chose to go concave on the left but remain convex on the right. However, while I would have preferred concave on both, the smoother movement and greater angle is still a significant improvement on the right thumbstick as well. The differences in a game like Nioh where a few boss fights required sudden and precise movements of the camera highlighted this well. While I would have preferred a softer material on sticks themselves, I haven’t had any problems with my thumbs slipping during play and I imagine the material was chosen for longevity’s sake.
The triggers, buttons, dpad, and even the macro triggers on the bottom of the Nacon all feel extremely well designed as well. Commenting on a gamepad’s ergonomics is challenging as they can vary greatly by individual. However, the Revolution Pro is larger than the PS4 controller and for me personally, is formed well. While I would have preferred a slightly different angle for the triggers, I have had no issue activating them while playing. And frankly, that’s my largest complaint as the rest of the design impresses greatly. The shoulder buttons are angled far better than the standard PS4 controller and as noted, respond with a satisfying click. The face buttons are slightly larger and closer together than the PS4 pad yet also feel more responsive. Pressing a button gives an active, heavier response compared to the looser, lighter feel of the standard PS4 controller. Combined with the dpad that’s significantly better suited to eight way movement, playing a 2D platformer like Rogue Legacy feels much more natural. I haven’t experimented with it myself, but I would also imagine the Revolution Pro being better suited for fighting games given the improved dpad and face buttons.
One of the most appealing features of these more expensive controller options is the ability to customize individual aspects to suit specific games you play regularly. In this vein, I found the Nacon to be very similar to other options on the market. Once you download the software on your PC from the Nacon site, you simply plug the Revolution Pro in via USB to configure it. You have the ability to create multiple profiles, four of which can be stored on the controller at any given time. All of the options for customization you expect are here including thumbstick movement and dead zone adjustments, trigger responsiveness, vibration strength, and custom button mapping. However, Nacon takes it one step further for the truly hardcore in allowing programmable macros that can be stored on the four paddle like buttons that are built into the underside of the controller. If you simply want to remap a single button to them you can, but allowing custom coding could prove quite powerful in the right situation. As an example, imagine there is a combo in Injustice 2 that requires six button presses. With the Revolution Pro, you could program that entire combo into a single click of the paddle. Whether or not that’s a good thing is debatable, but having the option is impressive. Overall, the software is simple to use yet extensive which Nacon deserves credit for. My only complaint is that it can’t be used directly on the PS4 but that’s minor in the grand scheme of things.
Overall, I’m quite impressed with the Revolution Pro. Whether I was playing Rogue Legacy, Nioh, or Uncharted 4, I felt the experience was improved in some regard. With Rogue Legacy, the dpad made a substantial positive difference and as someone who likes to play a lot of retro and indie 2D games, that’s a large plus. Meanwhile in games like Nioh and Uncharted 4, and most modern games for that matter, camera control and precise aiming are imperative. Again, the Revolution Pro impressed with its more accurate and precise thumbstick travel, improved shoulder and face buttons, and overall more ergonomic design. It feels very solid in your hands and even after a few hours of continuous play, the material deals with heat and sweat more comfortably. It feels extremely similar to the Xbox Elite controller in that regard as you can hold it for extended periods of time without feeling like it’s going to slide out of your hands. Ideally for me, the controller would have been slightly smaller and I would have liked the thumbsticks to be replaceable to combat the inevitable wear. But, overall it was mostly positives.
As someone who’s owned a plethora of third party controllers over the years, including the Xbox Elite which I use near daily, I have plenty of experiences with which to compare the Revolution Pro. As of right now, the Xbox Elite continues to be my favorite current controller as I find it more ergonomically pleasing and the ability to modify the thumbsticks individually is a huge plus. However, the Revolution Pro closed the gap considerably and I would recommend the purchase for those looking for a more serious PS4 controller or simply one with improved, offset thumbsticks.
Lastly, due to the sizable investment these new high-end controllers require, one of their most important aspects is longevity and naturally, I can’t comment on that just yet. It’s worth noting that the Xbox Elite controller has seen issues with longevity and warranty concerns for some users which is problematic given the price tag. To that end, I am curious to see how the Revolution holds up over time and I will edit this review later this year to provide an update.
Recommended : A quality third party option for those looking for enhanced customization options or merely a more serious PS4 gamepad.
EDIT : March 25th 2017 : Wanted to a provide an update after using the controller regularly for the past month. I’ve been playing a ton of Horizon Zero Dawn (excellent game!) and am about to acquire the Platinum trophy. Using the Nacon has been fantastic and it shows zero signs of wear. The sticks in particular look and feel like new. Even more surprising is there being a total lack of residue under the thumbsticks which can be found on both the X1 and PS4 standard controllers. It also has been very enjoyable to use in extended sessions with no hand cramping or comfort issues at all. With this in mind, I stand behind my prior recommendation of the Revolution Pro.
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