Standard console controllers can often be a bit of a letdown. Especially for enthusiasts who are keen players of highly competitive games that require precise controls and customisation options.
The usual piece of kit isn’t going to fit everyone’s needs, and that’s exactly where Nacon come in. They make officially licensed controllers, and this offering for the PS4 appears to be a holistic solution for gamers demanding a little more than the norm out of their peripherals. But does it live up to its price tag? I’ve been testing the Revolution Unlimited to find out.
Personally, I’ve always found Sony’s standard DualShock 4 to be fairly ugly. Aesthetics-wise, it looks a lot less rounded and tool-like than both the DualShock 3 and its competition, the Xbox One controller. It’s always felt like a toy, and my hands have gravitated quite naturally to Microsoft’s offerings, especially when playing an intense game where every prompt counts, like a From Software title.
I’m pleased to tell you that Nacon has managed to forge a delightful middle ground between the design principles of Microsoft and Sony’s controllers. The Revolution Unlimited has the hallmarks of a DualShock 4 with its big touch pad and lower-middle PS button, but it swaps the position of the left thumbsticks and the D-Pad to make it feel more like an Xbox controller. This is perhaps the most revolutionary part of the package.
This changes everything, but if you’re used to swapping between the two consoles to play different exclusives, you should handle it with ease. Holding it in your hands is a delight too. It has a smooth outer shell that feels soft to the touch, with grips around where the controller sits in your palms and lower fingers to make sure you’re comfortable, even after hours of play.
The trigger buttons have a remarkable heft to them which gives you a satisfying level of control in shooters, especially when sniping. They offer a lot of resistance and spring back up with vigour, even when you’re really going for it, which keeps my mind at ease for the longevity of this controller. It feels like it could survive a few drops. The right and left bumper buttons on the Revolution Unlimited offer similar delights. They feel spring and offer a comforting click, the likes of which never seen on a standard DualShock 4. This is Nacon taking another bit of inspiration from the Xbox One controller, which is very welcome.
Unfortunately, the face buttons, touch pad and d-pad are a bit of a letdown. Whilst the rest of the controller feels designed with care and fine-tuned to feel great when you’re playing, these two areas are a stumble in quality. The buttons don’t feel rounded enough and I get the feeling they will stick eventually, and the d-pad just doesn’t offer any feedback for your prompts. It doesn’t respond to you when you press it like the tactile bumper buttons do, and it’s noticeable when I’m forced to use it in-game. Instead of sprinting back when I press it, it feels sticky, and as if I’m pushing all of it in at once, regardless of which direction I’m tapping. The touchpad isn’t really that important in the grand scheme of things.
You click it and it works, but it just doesn’t feel right compared to the DualShock 4’s design. It feels similarly sticky, like the d-pad, and it feels like this is where corners have had to be cut to improve design elsewhere. Fair enough, it’s not the most important part of the package so I can understand, but it’s a departure from the rest of the clever design, and doesn’t give the haptic response you want when clicking it.
This is a crying shame given the quality of the rest of the controller. I can mostly forgive the face buttons and touch pad, as they’re pretty much on par if not slightly superior to the DualShock 4, but the d-pad is a real drop in design quality, which is upsetting, especially if you play games that demand heavy use of that controller component.
Back on form, the thumbsticks are seriously impressive. Instead of the dogs-nose style of the DualShock range, Nacon offer up the thumb pocket style seen on the Xbox One controller. Your thumbs will rest in little divest and each movement feels like a glide. Like I mentioned earlier in the review, the thumbsticks positioning is revolutionary, and so are the components themselves. There is a satisfying click to them when you push them in any direction and meet the end of its range, and the distance between your thumbs feels perfect when you have to use them both at once.
For mini-games where you’re trying to make shapes and movements with both sticks, I’ve never used any controller quite like it. The precision is unmatched. The shortcut buttons on the controller are well-placed, and the headphone jack also feels sturdy compared to the competition. There are controls on the back for volume too, which are a little hard to reach but it’s still miles better than separating them from the controller itself.
There are four profiles baked into the controller which you can switch between as you see fit, as well as space for the player to customise sensitivity, vibration intensity and lighting. This is the Swiss Army knife of controllers, make no mistake. For hardcore players at the peak of their game, perhaps looking into competitive play, you will delight in the Revolution Unlimited. In the box you get a set of customisable weights and metal shafts to fine-tune how the Revolution Unlimited feels in your hands, as well as convex & concave thumbsticks to suit any disposition. It’s a bit daunting at first, but once you read the manual and figure out how to work it you can really make your gameplay unique.
Connectivity-wise the Revolution Unlimited is a breeze to set up. Plug-and-play with the USB cable or wireless via a little hub you plug into your PC or PS4. It’s painless and sets up in a pinch. A shame if you’re already filling up most of the PS4’s ports with other peripherals, but this shouldn’t be a problem unless you’ve got multiple controllers in dire need of a port. The PC Companion App is super useful too if you’re a keen tinkerer who wants to adjust deadbands and make everything feel just right. We can’t forget the hard-case and cleaning cloth too which are very welcome.
It didn’t really matter what I played, from FIFA to Apex to Psychonauts VR, the Revolution Unlimited really stood out as an improvement to the standard form. I don’t think I can go back to my DualShock now having used this holistic bit of kit. Alas, there is the price tag. The controller will run you a cool £149.99 at most retailers, which is fairly bank-breaking, especially if you’re not playing competitively. Therefore it’s purely down to how much the consumer desires the ergonomics of the Revolution Unlimited in spite of its hefty price.
It is a conclusive improvement on the DualShock 4, but if you’re not trying to become the next eSports star, it might not be worth all of its clever customisation options. The interesting factor for me is that it’s not really just appealing to the competitive scene either. I’m no star shooter, but the Nacon Revolution Unlimited has won me over purely from an ergonomic perspective, given my gripes with the DualShock 4. If you are of a similar disposition, it’s worth dropping the cash.
If your main console is your PS4 and you want to feel as good as humanly possible whilst you play, perhaps the investment wouldn’t be so shocking. It’s even quite easy to recommend for PC players, though you won’t be getting as painless a plug-and-play experience as you would if you were using one of Microsoft’s Xbox offerings.
To wrap this up, an ultimatum: Do you want to improve your chances in competitive games, and are you willing to pay up for that edge? Well, the Nacon Revolution Unlimited is for you. Do you just want to improve the ergonomics of your daily driver and make your hands more comfortable? Same answer.
For any other use case, there’s going to be a lot of umming and arring over whether this expensive piece of kit is worth it. Regardless, the Revolution Unlimited is the best licensed third-party controller I’ve ever used, in spite of its minor drawbacks. It’s an intuitive and well-designed peripheral that demands your attention. Especially if you have your gripes, this one is well worth the money if you’re serious about your peripherals.
Review unit provided by NACON, pick it up at GAME.