Turtle Beach’s first controller may have just beaten Microsoft
I first ventured into the world of Turtle Beach’s vast array of headsets with my Xbox 360. I recall having a dongle and a ridiculously long cord attached to the back of the system in order to get the much needed sound upgrade I craved. Worth it? For the time – absolutely. Turtle Beach is known for putting out some pretty good headsets, but with gaming becoming more popular than ever, and with Xbox’s newest controller lagging a bit behind the PS5’s innovation, Turtle Beach enters it’s first controller peripheral into the fight with the Recon Controller (arriving in stores August 1st).
I tend to play with the Microsoft Xbox Series X controller (which is excellent), so it is hard not to directly compare anything new I use against it. I’ll do some minor comparing and contrasting throughout the review. First, it should be noted that the Recon controller is wired with a USB-A to USB-C cable. The cable is plenty long at ten feet, but if you are anti-cord, this may not be the controller for you.
It works well with my PC or Xbox console setup just fine, and while I haven’t used a wired controller in some time, it is a bit of a welcome change to not have to change batteries out during a competitive game. I’ve lost plenty of Rocket League games due to inconvenient battery change timing. Similar to Microsoft’s Elite series of controllers, the Turtle Beach controller has mappable rear buttons (only two though). It also has a 3.5mm input jack and audio console on the controller itself. Turtle Beach brags (and I can confirm) the in controller console adds their trademark featured Superhuman Hearing to any headset along with additional audio EQ presets. I truly enjoy these features and it prevents me from having to dive into settings to make changes or reach up and press buttons on a headset that I cannot see.
How if feels
Simply put – it feels better than the Xbox One controllers and comparable to the Xbox Series S/X controller. It is noticeably lighter than the Series X controller, and I’m guessing that is simply due to the fact that batteries are not needed. I’ve noticed my kids have migrated from the Xbox One controller and have started using this without any prompting from me. Turtle Beach added textured grips that are designed to whisk away sweat, and also added texture on the trigger, shoulder, and the two new mappable buttons on the back side of the controller. They feel great and should help some players have a slight edge particularly in FPS games.
How it performs
I love the Microsoft Series S/X controller. It has been my go to since the release of the console. I was initially skeptical when I took the Recon controller out of the box. I was concerned it would feel too light and “cheap” during gameplay. My expectations were wrong though. The controller performs admirably, and I actually prefer it’s textured grips more than the Microsoft controller. I wish it had a tad more weight to it, but I don’t notice this unless I’m being critical. On a few occasions I found myself bumping a setting in the upper audio controls that would throw my game off – I did have to mess with the settings to determine I must have been toggling the Pro Aim Focus mode as my thumbstick sensitivity would change – great for FPS games – bad for Rocket League. Once I figured it out the problem was solved and I didn’t make the mistake again. Now I love the controller, and I don’t have to worry about batteries dying.
I also love the audio features it enables. Microsoft should really take a page from Turtle Beach in this department. I have a separate dongle for Xbox controllers that allows me to adjust in-game volume chat settings and audio levels. Turtle Beach built these right in with some great extras. I still love toggling Superhuman Hearing mode on when I need to hear details in certain games, and it works flawlessly. Turtle Beach’s innovation continues to impress.
Overall this is a phenomenal wired controller. Is it better than the Series S/X controller? Yes and no. I like the weightiness of the Xbox Controllers, but I love the features and handling on the Recon controller. The D-pad on the Xbox controller feels better, but I never use the D-pad for gaming, and the Recon one is adequate. Audio controls built in are a game changer for sure, and I use them constantly. Add two mappable buttons on the back and this controller is a true winner. The downside? It’s wired and it costs roughly the same price as Microsoft’s controllers. The wire may not be optimal for some gaming setups. It would be awesome to see this controller go wireless and still allow for its great features. You can pick up the Recon Controller for $59.95, and if you can handle a wire, you shouldn’t have any complaints.