If you’re in need of a new controller, Turtle Beach have got your back. 

Whether you’re looking for a top-of-the-range offering and are ready to break the bank in order to get it, want something mid-range that is capable of powering you through sessions at a time, or just want a cheap and cheerful throwaway device – one that can literally be hurled through the window as the gamer rage hits – it’s Turtle Beach that will be able to provide it.

For all the fancy name and feature set, the Turtle Beach REACT-R Controller for Xbox is one that comes in right near the bottom of the price brackets, offering up a range of features to Xbox gamers for very little money. And even though you’ll know it’s cheap, and it feels cheap, sometimes cheap is good. 

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Coming in at just £34.99 , the Turtle Beach REACT-R Controller is pretty much sold at half the price of a standard Xbox wireless controller. Granted, this one isn’t wireless, requiring the user to be within a set distance of their console at all times, but to make up for that tie, it comes packed with a host of great Turtle Beach features. Whether you’ll use them all is another matter, but at least they have seen fit to include them.

A wired controller that is Designed for Xbox, the REACT-R has been great to use. Don’t get us wrong, it’s certainly not replacing our custom Elite Series 2 DreamController, and we’d much rather the tactile feels of PowerA’s Fusion Pro 2, but there is next to nothing wrong with what has been produced here. In fact, it’s very much like Turtle Beach’s Recon Controller; just cheaper. 

Generally this should be seen as a standard wired controller (with a lengthy 2.5m USB-C to USB-A cable included in the box) that has been infused with some Turtle Beach features. All the usual Xbox buttonry is in place and well configured – thumbsticks, D-Pad, bumpers, triggers and face buttons – with the only real change in placement being that of the Nexus, Menu, Share and View buttons. They’ve all been shifted down the controller so that Turtle Beach can include their own options nearer the top, helping the REACTt-R live up to its name. 

A trio of buttons sit along the top face of the REACT-R controller, pretty much where the old apron used to sit on the first edition Xbox One controllers. These buttons work a variety of things, running – left-to-right – Turtle Beach’s now standard Superhuman Hearing, a D-Pad shift button and that of a mic mute. 

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Now, the latter needs no explanation – plug a 3.5mm jacked headset into the REACT-R and you’ll be able to mute your mic – and by definition, any outgoing audio – from the outside world. If you usually need to take your hands off your controller to flip-to-mute, you’ll find this a godsend. 

The Superhuman Hearing is great too. Usually reserved for Turtle Beach headsets, using the REACT-R and again plugging in any wired headset lets you take in the joy of Superhuman Hearing. It pretty much gives a little boost to the sound, allowing the chance to pinpoint any gaming audio down to a tee. It’s great – end of debate. 

It is however the middle button of this trio which is most interesting. See, a double tap switches on two rear mounted, programmable, quick action buttons; two buttons which sit right where your middle fingers do. Working very much like the paddles on an Elite or that Recon controller we previously spoke of, throwing a face button press or trigger knock round the back is something many rely on. Honestly, we’ve never really been huge fans of these rear mounted buttons and never use them on our Elite – something we totally blame on old school muscle memory – but they work great and will be of much use to many.

Aside from assigning fanciness to the rear of the controller, that middle button also works in conjunction with the D-Pad, a press and hold accompanied by a direction on the D-Pad changing up volume settings: up turning the volume up, down to lower matters, whilst left and right pushes amend the game/chat balance. 

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You may think that this is a bit of a gimmick, but in our weeks with the REACT-R, we’ve found ourselves using this method of volume control more times than we care to remember. It’s so useful that we’ve really missed it whenever we’ve had a different controller in hand. 

But, that initial cheap feel of the REACT-R also feeds in to that clever D-Pad and the thumbsticks. They work absolutely fine but do feel like they’ve been grabbed from the nearest bargain bucket and slapped in; again, a plastic vibe emits throughout.

So we said earlier that there is ‘next to nothing wrong’ with the Turtle Beach REACT-R Controller, and that really is the case. However, we can see many gamers dismissing this out of hand. Quite literally as soon as they get it ‘in hand’. This feels cheap from the get-go: super lightweight and full of scratchy plastic. It’s obviously here where Turtle Beach have cut the corners in order to get it down in price. For some, that may be an issue. For others – read: those looking for a decent bang for buck ratio – it’ll be of insignificance. It all depends on the camp you fall into.

We’re also not sure that the textured grips that work down the arms and onto the back of the REACT-R are totally appreciated. Don’t get us wrong, any texture is good, but this is a world away from that found on the official offerings or more expensive third party controllers. The Turtle Beach diamond design just feels a little bit too textured, although we can’t complain that it rolls down into the two rear mounted programmable quick access buttons and stops any slipping on the bumpers and triggers.

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Through testing for a few weeks we’ve not had a single issue with the Turtle Beach REACT-R controller and if we’re honest, there have been times when we’ve grabbed for this over our much more expensive, much heftier options. And we’ve found it to be an utter joy in those regards, a relief that we can just pick up, plug in, and play. Turtle Beach sell this as being a controller that comes with ‘fatigue free ergonomics’ and the lightweight nature brings that to the fore. After all, it only weighs 205 grams. Put that up against a standard Xbox Wireless (273g) or the Elite 2 (345g) and you can immediately see the benefits. 

The Turtle Beach REACT-R controller isn’t going to wow any gamer. It’s not going to blow the competition away nor get anywhere near the very best controllers in the land either. But it’s not trying to do any of those things. This is an Xbox controller that proves that gamers need not spend big money for the big features, filling a gap at the lower end of the market, covering the bases required for those that are happy with little thrills, cutting corners in well considered areas as it goes. 

The Turtle Beach REACT-R Controller for Xbox could well be a controller that sells in bucketloads, proving once and for all that gaming can be a place for all – no matter the size of that wallet. 

Huge thanks go out to Turtle Beach for providing us with the REACT-R Controller for review. You can pick one up for yourself by visiting Turtle Beach direct. You won’t need to spend a bomb in doing so either. 

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