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The premium controller market has continued to grow in recent years.
While in the past it was unthinkable to spend more on a controller than you would on a game, today the price of some controllers rival those of actual consoles.
While the leaders of the pack are clearly Microsoft and Sony – with the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 and PlayStation DualSense Edge promising premium controls with a premium price point to match – third-party peripheral makers have been getting involved too.
One such company is Nacon, which has regularly been delivering controllers that we at VGC believe to be among the best third-party offerings you can find.
At $199 / €229 / £199, the Revolution 5 Pro is easily its most expensive controller to date (arcade sticks aside), and we think this time Nacon has bitten off more than it can chew – through no fault of its own, however.
The controller’s plus points are plentiful. It comes with a storage case and a separate box containing a host of extra accessories, such as a second D-Pad (so you can swap between a plus shape and a disc), six joystick heads (two concave and four convex of varying heights) and metal joystick rings.
It also includes a selection of weights, which you can use to give your controller extra heft. You do this by sliding open little hatches in the grips and placing the weights inside there.
The controller has an asymmetric layout, which is just Nacon’s fancy way of saying it’s put the sticks where they are on an Xbox controller, instead of at the bottom like on the DualSense. This will obviously divide players based on what they’re used to, but anyone who likes the Xbox layout will welcome this move.
One of the reasons for the hefty price point is the inclusion of Hall Effect technology, which uses magnets to track the position of the sticks and the triggers. Because there’s no contact made with Hall Effect tech, there’s no wear and tear, and the risk of stick drift should be non-existent. The important thing is the sticks are comfortable to use.
Speaking of the sticks, if they don’t quite feel how you’d like them to, a PC and mobile app allows you to connect your controller and customise various aspects of it. You can set the sensitivity of the triggers, assign buttons to the four bumper buttons at the back, and tweak each stick’s response curve so its sensitivity best suits your tastes.
Though you can tweak this however you like, there are also some presents for the more popular genres. The ‘arcade fighting’ preset, for example, makes the sticks extremely responsive, meaning just moving them slightly makes the stick act like you’ve pushed it all the way to the limit.
The ‘FPS’ preset, on the other hand, does the opposite and is mainly designed for sniper rifles. Here the sensitivity is lessened, so your crosshair moves slower than usual when you move the stick a little (allowing for more accurate aiming) then faster when you push it further.
The controller can be used either wired or wireless, with the latter claiming a battery life of around 10 hours with all its features turned on. Though we didn’t necessarily sit there with a stopwatch, this claim fits with our experience with the controller – its battery life certainly seemed to last longer than the DualSense does. But there’s a reason for that.
Every feature the Revolution 5 Pro boasts is about as high quality as we’ve seen outside of Microsoft and Sony’s own controllers. It’s not what it offers that’s the problem, however, but rather what it doesn’t.
One of the downsides of a controller as unique as the DualSense is that Sony would very much like to keep it unique. As such, when a third-party company wants to make an officially licensed PS5 controller, many of the DualSense’s bespoke features aren’t on the table.
“When a third-party company wants to make an officially licensed PS5 controller, many of the DualSense’s bespoke features aren’t on the table.”
This means the Revolution 5 Pro doesn’t have adaptive triggers, so you don’t get to feel resistance when you use them. It doesn’t have haptic feedback, which means no rumble at all while playing PS5 games.
It doesn’t connect wirelessly to the console via normal means – you instead have to plug a USB dongle into the console and connect to that instead. Nacon tells us this means there’s a little more latency than the DualSense, though we didn’t really notice any difference. The issue is more that this means it always takes up a USB port on the console, whether you’re playing wired or wireless.
Speaking of the console, you know how you can turn on the PS5 with your DualSense? Sony’s made that proprietary too, so you can’t do that with the Revolution 5 Pro either. The only benefit to this is that we finally learned which button on our console was the power button, because it’s the first time since the PS5 launched that we’ve actually had to use it. Every time.
The result of all this is that for $199 you’re essentially getting half the features of the stock controller, when on paper, a price point like that should mean you’re buying the definitive, be-all and end-all controller, rather than something that can’t even properly play the Astro’s Playroom tech demo that comes with the console.
The only saving grace here is that the Revolution 5 Pro also has switches for PS4 mode and PC mode. The PS5 supports PS4 controllers (though only for PS4 games), and when in this mode you do get rumble and everything else works like it’s supposed to, other than the obvious need for the wireless dongle.
The PC mode, meanwhile, turns the Revolution 5 Pro into a standard XInput controller, and it’s actually here where it truly shines. With all the features intact (including rumble), the Xbox stick layout, the Hall Effect tech and the fact that it’s generally just exceptionally comfortable to hold, this may not quite cut it as a PS5 controller but it’s one of the very best PC controllers you can get.
Of course, Nacon makes Xbox controllers too, and these work just as well on PC (Hall Effect sticks aside) for a fraction of the price. At least, based on these previously released controllers, we know that if Nacon makes an Xbox version of the Revolution 5 Pro, it’ll be a far more convincing sell because it’ll have practically every feature, wireless aside. We’ll even be able to turn our console on with it.
As it stands with this PS5 offering, however, Nacon has been hamstrung from the outset by a Sony-controlled feature set it hasn’t been allowed to use. What’s there is absolutely first-class, and as a PS4 or PC controller it’s second to none. If you’re using it for its main selling point, however, you may be disappointed by the forced compromises.
The Revolution 5 Pro is a wonderfully made controller that's comfortable to hold and has tremendous build quality. However, Sony's insistence on keeping many of the DualSense's features proprietary means that Nacon's controller is missing a lot of functionality. As such, it's an outstanding PC controller, but an average PS5 one.
- Top-notch build quality and very comfortable
- Hall effect sticks mean no drift
- Great battery life
- PC mode makes it a superb XInput controller
- No adaptive triggers
- No haptic feedback
- No wireless without a dongle
- Can't turn the console on with it