Xbox Turtle Beach Recon Controller – Review
If the official Xbox controller is your best mate Steve, who keeps an immaculate beard and dresses smartly, the Recon Controller is your other mate Gav, who lets his facial growth go, likes to don bulky jackets, but always fills its voluminous pockets with interesting gadgets that he likes to pull out now and then to show you, even though you probably only have interest in one or two of them.
If that opening paragraph is a bit awkward, it’s because reviewing a controller is not the most exciting thing to do. Chances are, if you are reading this, that you’re either really bored at work and this popped up in your feed, or you’re already on the prowl to buy a customisable controller. I have to say up front that I am not a pro gamer. I don’t need a back button that reduces thumb-stick sensitivity to allow for more accurate sniping, nor can I think of any situation where I require assignable back paddles – but you can do those things, and more, with this controller.
So how does it feel? Straight out the box, it is lighter than an official controller and the buttons feel slightly stickier. This said I am of the opinion that the new official controllers (I’m using the one that came with my Series S) feel quite clacky, so the Recon lines up fairly well against it from a build quality standpoint. There’s extra bumpiness to the surfaces of R1/2 and L1/2 that I would imagine helps anyone who sweats a lot while gaming (I knew a guy in high school who had a diagnosed hand sweating issue).
What I do like about this is that it is wired, which reduces my need to remember to charge it. I have no trouble rolling out the strong, braided, 3M cable to play. It feels twist and break-proof. I also like the sound enhancement options of the Recon. They’re calling it Superhuman Hearing, which comes down to inbuilt EQ-adjusters that give you options to either press one button to gain an audio boost or take the time to go through pre-sets that boost bass, bass and treble or vocal. (An aside – I experienced low-level hiss when using any ear/headphones plugged in that I am more than willing to assign to a static issue in my house, but it might be worth noting if you don’t have a wireless headset).
Initially, I noticed an instant enhancement to the audio level when I pressed the Superhuman button on the controller, though over time I came to prefer the direct sound as the higher treble of the enhancement became harsh to my ears. Even so, you might want to use this to hear footsteps during PvP or if a game has generally crap sound mixing. The fact that there is also a volume button on the controller means that I can instantly increase or decrease game volume without needing to go to the dashboard and flick through to that option – which is a big tick in my book, as some games are noticeably louder than others.
Returning to the back paddles. You can assign specific buttons to them or keep the default, which lets you reduce the sensitivity of the right thumbstick by pressing in the back right paddle. I initially scoffed at this but must admit that it felt cool to use in Mass Effect 3, zooming in and slowing down my aim. It does take some getting used to, but I could see myself using it for most shooters. There are four levels of sensitivity, with the fourth one almost immovable. I stuck to the first setting and found it pleasing.
The rumble is quite good – I mean, it’s rumble *hands up*. I find the official controller to be a bit aggressive with its rumble, anyway, and I happily play my Switch with a Split Pad Pro, which doesn’t have rumble, so it’s not a feature that phases me at all. You can set up multiple control profiles if you want, with a little bit of button clicking. It doesn’t take too long to switch through the various options, and it comes with a handy reference card to show which settings do what. Overall, I’m happy to have a controller that is ready to go if my wireless one goes flat on me. I’m also keen to keep using it for shooters and to keep exploring the custom audio settings for different titles.
The audio options are what stood out for me, even if I have little need for mic muting or monitoring. If the idea of playing around with your controller for a bit before you actually play a game appeals to you, then the Recon is a good option. It may be a little bit rugged and bulky, but secretly you like Gav more than Steve anyway.