Nacon's Revolution Pro Controller Lacks The One Feature That Matters

Images: Kotaku/Alex Walker

Sometimes it doesn't matter how many bells and whistles a controller has. If it doesn't feel good in your hands, the rest doesn't matter.

Despite being the more popular console this generation, Xbox fans have always been able at least one thing over their PS4 brethren: the superiority of the Elite controller. And since Sony has been insistent that they won't be making a supreme DualShock 4 controller of their own, complete with back paddles and button remapping, the market has been wide open for third-parties to offer their alternatives.

I reviewed SCUF's Infinity controllers late last year, and right before the New Year hit a new alternative hit our shores: the Nacon Revolution Pro controller, an Xbox-style pad for the PS4.

What Is It?

Advertised as "the esports designed pro controller", the Nacon Pro Controller pitches itself as a customisable, more functional controller for the PS4 with echoes of the Microsoft's Elite pad. A wired-only controller, the Nacon comes with an 8-way D-pad, dual analog sticks, 4 buttons embedded into the back of the controller, a lightbar located just above a standard 3.5mm jack.

There's also separate vibration motors in the left and right handles, as well as compartments for adjustable weights. There's also third-party software for customising the deadzones of the triggers, macros, remapping for all of the buttons, bumpers, triggers and the four shortcuts on the back. Users can also customise the response curve for the right analog stick, as well as their individual deadzones. You can save settings to four separate profiles, with four tiny LEDs under the share and option buttons indicating which is currently activated.

What's It Good At?

Given that the PS4 doesn't have an Elite-level offering, Nacon deserves some credit for all the features they've crammed into their Revolution Pro Controller. It's about $20 cheaper than the Elite, but has much of the same functionality. And while Nacon won't win awards for the design of their third-party app, it's a fairly low-overhead program that lets you access everything with a fair few clicks.

It's worth shouting out some of the accessories too. The weight of a controller can make a huge difference for some gamers, and being able to customise it is a nice touch that more expensive controllers ignore.

One of the advertised features is the 46o amplitude on the analog sticks for "advanced accuracy". That jargon's fairly indecipherable to me, but from a user standpoint the sticks are light and super responsive in a way the regular DualShock 4's aren't. They're a fraction more resistant than the Xbox One/Elite controllers analogue sticks, but don't take as much force to shift as the DS4's.

For some gamers, that might not be a positive. Some prefer slightly stiffer movement, but if you do it's not difficult to play around with the right stick's deadzone and response curve. There isn't as much customisation as the Elite controller on that front - you can't fine tune the sensitivity, for example.

The Pro Controller also feels smooth to hold in the hand, and it's quite sturdy. Unlike the DualShock 4, it doesn't squeak or sound like it's viable for breakage when you try to twist it in your hands. And the whole package comes with a small cloth pouch for transport, which doubles as a very handy lens/smartphone/monitor cloth.

What's It Not Good At?

While customisations are all well and good, controllers have to feel good in the hands first. Sadly, the Revolution Pro Controller fails that test miserably.

For a start, the D-pad is one of the worst I've used on a controller in years. There's nothing to like about it: it's spongy, it's not gated, and a vastly inferior option to the offerings on the default DualShock 4. The slight inversion makes a nice resting point for your thumb, but it's just a touch too large. I never found it pleasant to use, and it's not a great option for using in fighting games either.

That's a key problem with the controller across the board too: the problems are hard-baked in. The bumpers, for one, are shallow and so recessed that it can be a little difficult to press them if you hover your fingers over the far edges (a common way to hold a controller, with the tips of your fingers hovering over the left and right triggers). The bumpers and triggers are made of hard plastic; it's not even textured plastic, which is a bit cheap for something that costs $180.

But what will frustrate most people is the design of the analog sticks. The left stick sports a concave dome, matching what you'd find on the Xbox One or DualShock 4. But the right analog stick is convex, a baffling decision to make. On top of that, the edges of the sticks are different too: the right stick has a serrated edge, a bit like what you'd find on a 10 or 20 cent piece, while the left stick's edge is completely rounded.

Given that most people are accustomed to having their sticks uniform, it's odd as to why Nacon would vary them like this. The right stick sports the company's logo, which is fair enough, but it just makes the controller feel odd and awkward to hold in the hand. Coupled with the hard plastic bumpers and triggers, and having to push inward with your fingers to use two of the four back buttons, it sours the entire experience.

The primary function of any controller is that it needs to feel comfortable; it needs to feel natural. The Nacon Revolution Pro Controller gets part of that right - if you like the Xbox layout, and the general width of a Xbox One controller, it will seem reasonable at first sight. But even after extended use my fingers never quite naturally sat on either of the thumb sticks. The left stick has little to no grip, and both sticks are also a fraction higher than a standard Xbox One controller. It's wider than the DS4 or the Xbox One pad as well, but whether that's a benefit or to its detriment is more down to personal preference.

Should You Buy It?

The Nacon Pro Controller pictured against the original Xbox One and DualShock 4 for comparison.

I really wish I could recommend the Nacon Pro Controller. There's an awful lot to like about it, and Nacon have shown - unlike the SCUF Infinity controllers I played with last year - that you can have lots of features without having to pay over $200. But the ultimate test of any controller will always be what it's like to hold, what the buttons are like to press, and what it feels like to have your fingers on the analog sticks.

And that's where the Pro Controller falls down. It's so awfully close to being a solid offering, especially for gamers with large hands that prefer the offset sticks of an Xbox controller. It's sturdy, the movement of the sticks themselves is good, and the third-party app is easy enough to use. But that isn't enough to rectify the largest issues, including the atrocious D-pad, awful bumpers, the awkward feeling in your hands or the fact that you're buying a wired-only controller in 2017.

Oh and as an added frustration: the Nacon Pro Controller doesn't register as a standard DualShock 4 pad in Windows, so you won't be able to take advantage of Steam's recently-added native support.

That's pretty much a nail in the coffin for anyone who plays across PC and PS4, although those looking for a controller for PC would be best served with the Elite or the cheaper but still superb Xbox One S pad. As for PS4 gamers looking for an Elite equivalent: you'll have to wait a little while longer, unless you want to invest in fancy dongles and USB workarounds.


The Nacon Revolution Pro Controller is available at JB Hi-Fi for $179, although the next round of stock won't be available until February.


Comments

    I'll add on, that those looking at the other bastardised offering, the Emio PS4 Elite controller - don't. The triggers in particular feel incredibly cheap, and I'm not sold on the edges of the controller on some handles.

    Very happy with Razer's Raiju if anyone's interested. Good feel, the extra triggers feel great and accessible.

    My two profiles i switch between for sports/FPS games work perfectly now - the only thing i had to get used to was how snappy and clicky everything is. In the end its much more responsive and all round a great controller you can customize enough. Only downfall is the 229 price tag and if i didnt have $200 in JB vouchers for Christmas I probably wouldnt have one either. It does feel nice and premium thoough and after a month's use I can confirm it has significantly increased my K/D ratio as well as made all online gameplay more fun and competitive for me!

      Thanks for the update. I've been researching the Sh%t out of both the Nacon and Raiju and oscillating between the 2 on what to get, if any!

        It's not as remappable as such but to me all I need is those extra triggers and shoulder buttons to simulate face buttons in fps and then change the trigger up to L1 in FIFA etc as I've always found it a pain in the arse to switch player with L1

        Biggest difference I think has changed shit on battlefield and even FIFA online is the wired controller eliminating most of the input lag brought on by Bluetooth and the hair trigger response with the trigger stops on - just takes a bit to get used to but feels pretty natural after a while

    Oh man, I've had this controller since Christmas and beyond the poor D-pad I totally disagree with you. I mainly play FPSs and this controller has improved my game significantly.

    I love the difference in analog sticks, you have this meaty right stick that is incredibly accurate while the the small left stick is easy to pound in a certain direction with no resistance and with decent accuracy. Disagree about the feel of the controller, love the matte rubber that it's made of and I love the shape (it's pretty close to an Xbone controller). The bumpers I've had no issues with. In fact I've found them super easy to hit with the inside of my finger instead of the tip.

    Also, why didn't you mention the extra M1-4 buttons? I feel like all you did was hold this controller then give a review. What was your play time and what did you play?

      I should add that I think the DS4 is a garbage fire of a controller.

      When I mentioned the back buttons, the M1-4 buttons was what I meant. I also predominately played FPS with the controller (Destiny mostly, but other games inc. Final Fantasy, Don Bradman Cricket which has some controls that are quite good for testing out analog sticks, Infinite Warfare and NBA 2k17).

      As for raw K/D and all of that, I was getting vastly superior scores with the SCUF Infinity controllers or the Xbox Elite, and slightly better scores with the regular DualShock 4. I used it for around a month; I can't give you an exact hour count because the PS4 doesn't track that, and I didn't record specifics of what I played on PC, but I can say that I played over 60 games in Crucible alone with the controller.

        Hmmm, interesting. The last paragraph of my comment comes off aggressive, for that I apologise, not my intention.

        The "feel" of a controller must be a very individualistic thing as I really enjoy the feel of the Nacon.

        I'd say the M1 and M2 buttons are hard to hit while the M3 and M4 are great. I've assigned 3 and 4 to jump and reload in most FPSs and find them really useful, 1 and 2 I assign to stuff I don't hit as often like ultimate and emotes etc.

        Ultimately I think it's a try before you buy situation. If I had the resources I'd probably go with a dongle and an elite xbone controller but considering the only controller I've used in the last couple of years is the DS4 the Nacon has made me really happy.

          Yeah. I have smaller than average sized hands, but for gamers with larger hands the extra width - because the Nacon is wider than a regular XBO pad - would be appreciated too. Oh and don't worry about that other thing, it's cool.

        I'm way late to this discussion but just wanted to add there is tons of science behind a convex right joy stick. It significantly improves accuracy and there is plenty of science behind the claims.

        It may not be for you but professional players and in turn those seeking better controller options have been using domed KontrolFreeks and other mods in order to have a convex stick for their aiming thumb.

        I think once you use a convex right stick it's difficult to ever go back to concave.

    I feel like I'm beating a dead horse as I mention it in most custom controller threads, but I seriously cannot recommend Battle Beaver Customs enough.

    I used to own a PS4 Scuf - one of the paddles broke and the analogue stick grips starting wearing off after less than a year.

    Battle Beaver are a little pricey (but less than Scuf) but the quality is great. They use a genuine PS4 controller as the base unlike Scuf, they have buttons on the back rather than paddles which I prefer, and their customisation options are great. I've built mine with convex analogue sticks, blacked out buttons, extra grip, hair triggers and two remappable back buttons.

    For what it's worth, regarding the article - the higher sticks and two different types are probably intentional. The higher sticks are very common as the extra leverage lets you be more precise. The convex/concave sticks aren't as common, but some people prefer the different shape on the aiming stick compared to the movement stick. That being said, with most custom controller places, these are options. They're not built like that by default.

      Yeah, having them by default is very strange. I've seen you mention the Battle Beaver pads before - I'm going to have to try them at some stage.

        Absolutely. The different stick heights are pretty "normal", but even so it's a very personal thing - hence why they're usually options. And the two different sticks are so niche, it's weird that they're like this by default.

        I probably sound like a broken record, but Battle Beaver really are fantastic. Certainly worth reviewing if you want to do something of a custom controller roundup.

      I would absolutely not buy anything that uses the base DS4, it is the weakest POS controller I've ever used, never since the NES days have I broken a controller, I'm on my 3rd DS4 since getting the ps4.

        Really? Damn. I've owned two, three including my Battle Beaver and I've had zero issues. Only got two because of PS4 Pro. Whereas my Scuf broke after less than a year.

          Don't get me wrong, I love the DS4 feel, but yeah just wouldn't pay the extra couple of hundred to have it modded lol

    Lucky the PS4 has remapping in the OS isn't it...

    I think the controller is pretty great feature wise and the ergonomics are good enough for me. However, right now it has a bigger problem than whether you prefer concave or domed sticks, the right stick is not well calibrated, regardless of profile or sensitivity. Diagonals are much more sensible than horizontal or vertical movement. Using a 33/33/34 setup (which is equivalent in theory to a standard DS4) you'll find that trying to make a circular motion with the crosshair is impossible, whereas there is no such problem in the standard DS4. This is something to be aware of particularly if you are a Destiny player as it's particularly debilitating in that game where aiming is all over tha place with the Nacon (due to 30 fps perhaps?) There's a discussion in reddit ( https://www.reddit.com/r/PS4/comments/5m5bvq/nacon_owners_right_analog_stick_lags/ ) along with a video showing the issue if anyone is interested. Nacon are aware and supposedly working on a fix, but whether they can actually solve it via firmware update is anyone’s guess.

    It is possible to make macro with right stick?

    After owning a Nacon Ps4 Pro Controller for a while now, I’d like to share a few WHY! Moments I’ve had that may seem insignificant at first, but will surely strike a nerve at some point down the track. If you can see past its flaws, there’s plenty of good reasons to consider the Nacon PRO controller as your new Pad.

    Firstly I’ll get some cons that leave me scratching my head out of the way.
    -You cannot turn your Ps4 “on” with the “PSN” button. That includes waking the Ps4 from “rest mode”.
    -The Nacon does not turn “off” unless you unplug it or “shutdown” the Ps4. Putting your Ps4 into “rest mode” means your Nacon will constantly illuminate either a blue or red glow.
    - I have only ever tightened the metal screw plug that ‘securely’ connects the detachable cable to the controller to a firm finger tightness and alas!eventually the screw will loosen just enough for the cable to completely disconnected from the controller. This will usually happen during insanely intense moments or very close matches leaving you helpless as you watch your game end in melodramatic fashion.

    Even with its nuisances I’ll stick it out with my Nacon, and happily continue to use it and here’s why!

    Beneath its few unfortunate flaws lies a seemingly well built controller, that so far (8 months), has withstood some serious “WTF am I doing” button mashing and severe joystick abuse. The days of cringing while watching my game pads being violently manhandled by inexperienced gamers is in the past & thoughts of adding yet another overpriced paperweight to the accessory graveyard have hardly crossed my mind. No squeaky triggers, dead/sticky/stuck buttons or dislodged trigger springs to date.

    The software required on pc for customizing your Nacon has a very basic interface, if you’ve unfamiliar with customizing game pads or unsure of what a “dead zone” even is, the interface could seem a bit vague. My advice would be to set the largest dead zones possible and save to one profile and then save the smallest dead zones possible to another profile. Switching between the two whilst playing a FPS will give you a good understanding of what the setting does. The perfect settings for a FPS could be the worst settings for a racing game. Play around with it!

    Being able to adjust the triggers so that even a tap is classed as a hard press can be game changer. Pair that with the ability to adjust the dead zone/response of the joysticks and it’s simply something that can’t be overlooked.
    Even with my delicate 35 year old small hands I’ve found the Nacons size and weight to be the most comfortable PSN control to hold I’ve owned since the Wireless Ps2 Logitech controller I had back in 2006!
    The repositioning of the D-pad took some getting used to, and for some games the D-pads location simply wasn’t practical. This was easily resolved by remapping the D-pads functions to the 4 customizable macro buttons.

    The Nacons gamepad has its pros and cons much like any other controller out there. Whether or not it’s the gamepad for you can only really be determined with a hands on approach.
    Happy Gaming!

    PSN - Snarfed101

      this controller was cool till the right stick rubs on something inside where the stick is rotating at plus now my controller doesn't play to long it will freeze and i have to unplug and replug just to play but will keep happening there should be a recall on the first controllers but I know they used a vga type plus for they scam to make money for a thunderbolt version which sucks bad cause i feel used to help a company make it to the top by selling us controllers that has a cord that would never last!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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