The DualShock 4 might be the most streamlined Sony joypad in history… but it isn’t perfect.
Those twin sticks are impeccable for first person shooters, but you can’t keep your thumbs on them and hit the D-Pad or face buttons at the same time. Not great when you’re only one frag away from topping the online leaderboard.
Until now, you had to splash out on a custom controller if you wanted to stay one step ahead, but now there’s an official alternative - kind of.
The Revolution Pro might have been given the nod by Sony, but it’s actually the first PS4 controller from relatively new-to-the-scene Nacon. It’s not the only “pro” pad on the scene, either. And seeing how the other comes from gaming mega-brand Razer, it’s got to work hard to impress.
So, does it manage to make a good impression?
GET A GRIP
First things first - the Revolution doesn’t look all that much like a PS4 pad. It borrows more from Microsoft’s Xbox One controller, with a similar overall shape. That means it’s chunky.
The larger grips, angular triggers and oversized buttons might be easier to hit than the standard pad, but I struggled to find a comfortable way to hold the thing and have my fingers cover all the usual buttons.
Even the familiar X, O, Triangle and Square face buttons are a little on the large side, but they have a lot more travel than the Razer Raiju’s near-instant clicky buttons.
You do still get a headphone jack at the bottom of the controller, which will come in handy when playing online, but there are no quick toggles for controlling volume or mute - you’ll need to dive into the menus and away from the action to make any changes.
This might be an official controller, but it’s still bound to Sony’s rules on third party kit. That means you can’t power on your PS4 by holding in the PlayStation button on the front - you’ve got to get up and press the console instead.
It’s wired, too - going wireless would mean adding lag, not something you want from a pro-grade controller. The cable is plenty long enough for most living room gamers, but it’s something else to tidy away when you’re done playing.
STICK IT TO ME
In case you hadn’t noticed already, Nacon has swapped around the joysticks and D-pad. Rather than stick with Sony’s standard setup, the Revolution sides with Microsoft’s layout instead. That is definitely going to divide opinions.
I didn’t find it too hard to make the switch, but anyone that’s dead set on Sony’s preferred layout will either have to stick with their DualShock, or make the jump to Razer’s Raiju.
That’s not the only sticking point, either. The left stick has a convex shape, but the right one offers a bulging, concave one. It’s supposed to help with precision when you’re aiming in an FPS, but it took me a while to get used to it.
The right stick has a lot more travel than a DualShock 4, so you can pull off more precise movements, but, again, you’ve got to retrain your thumbs before it’ll click and your online scores will start seeing an improvement.
This is where the Nacon stands apart from Razer’s Raiju. Plug it into a PC and you’ll be able to tweak it using software - changing all kinds of things like trigger actuation points and stick sensitivity. You could slow down responsiveness for small nudges, then boost it to the max at full tilt, or have a smooth response across the whole range of movement. It's really up to you.
It can make all the difference in racing games - it’s like taking an entire turn of steering wheel lock away with a few button presses. You can’t swap out the physical hardware like you can on an Xbox One Elite controller, and PC software isn’t as convenient as being able to program on the fly, but there’s no doubt this is as fine-grain flexible as PS4 controllers get.
FINGER ON THE TRIGGER
And that’s before you see the four extra buttons on the back - it’s these that are supposed to make all the difference to FPS fans. They let you keep both thumbs on the sticks, but use D-Pad or face buttons at the same time.
The PC software lets you set any button, combination, or macro to the four buttons. That could mean having one button to pull of a Street Fighter special move, or to switch weapons instantly in Call of Duty. It’ll definitely give you an edge, if you take the time to set it up.
Unfortunately, the software isn’t all that intuitive, and it takes times to plug it in, make your changes, and swap back to your console to test them. At least you can toggle between four distinct profiles on the fly, using buttons on the back of the controller.
The triggers aren’t in the best location, either. They’re a little too shallow for your ring fingers, but if you use your middle fingers then you’ve got to juggle the L1/R1 and L2/R2 buttons with your index fingers. Razer’s Raiju handles this a bit better.
You’ve got to take the time to set them up, and how useful they are will vary from game to game, but they definitely help lift the Revolution Pro above your typical DualShock 4.
Nacon Revolution Pro verdict
The Revolution Pro isn’t without a few flaws. The displaced analogue sticks won’t make serious Sony fans happy, and the D-Pad is a little imprecise for fighting game addicts.
It doesn’t work as a PC controller, either - so you won’t be able to play PC games with it when the TV is being used, or use it with Sony’s Remote Play service either.
It’s built like a tank, though, with metal analog sticks and much firmer rubber grips that should hold up to hundreds of hours of gaming. Sony’s own pads are notorious for wearing away, but that shouldn’t happen here.
Whether it fits your hands or not, it’s certainly customisable - and undercuts Razer’s Raiju by a significant amount. If your favourite games would benefit from a few macros or multi-button combos, the Revolution Pro definitely has appeal, but the Razer is probably the better all-rounder.