What are your first thoughts when you hear the words, ‘wired controller’? You’re probably wondering who threw you back to that party of 1999, eh? How about ‘third party wired controller’? Gets worse? But what if that third party wired controller could offer up a ton of features, including Superhuman Hearing, mappable buttons, audio equalisers, multiple profiles and more? At that point I’d guess there’s a chance that your interest levels would have risen. When I tell you that same controller is from Turtle Beach, there’s a good chance you’ll be ready to open your wallet and splash the cash.
Well, that’s what we’ve got with the Turtle Beach Wired Recon Controller for Xbox. And the best part about it? It’s very very good.
A little bit of context is perhaps needed before we delve right into the details of what the Turtle Beach Recon Controller is able to provide. I’m a gamer of 40 plus years; one who thought they’d left the cabled controller back in 2005 when Microsoft released the Xbox 360 with wireless control capabilities. But I’m also a gamer who hates the weight, the fancy features and the price tag of Microsoft’s all conquering Elite controller. I just can’t get on with it and have happily continued my gaming forays with a standard wireless controller in hand. The Elite sitting gathering dust.
But when Turtle Beach came calling, promising that their latest ‘Designed for Xbox’ offering is able to do much of what the Elite can do, but at a lower weight – both in cash and gram terms – I really couldn’t say no.
And aside from the slight restrictions that come about via the need to be permanently attached to your console via a USB-A to USB-C cable, I’ve absolutely fallen for their marketing spiel and quality product. In fact, other than a little bit of a plasticky initial feel, and the fact that this is a wired controller that requires connection to your Xbox console (or PC) for use, there’s little to not like about it.
It comes in with pretty much the same footprint as a standard Xbox wireless controller, but weighs a decent amount less – 225 grams to the standard’s 274. This means it is significantly less than the 339 grams of the Elite controller too, so that’s an instant win.
Everything you would expect from an Xbox controller is present too. The thumbsticks are in the same place, as is the d-pad, the face buttons, the triggers and the bumpers; the latter two of which come with a glorious textured feel to ensure there is little slip of the fingers.
From there though the Xbox button, the view and menu buttons, and the new Share button which has come into its own with the move to Xbox Series X|S, have all been shifted very slightly down, nearer to the d-pad and right stick. This has been done to accommodate the plethora of new options that Turtle Beach have managed to cram in where the old Xbox apron used to sit. Yes it’s a little bit busy in terms of packing everything in, but all buttons and switches are well within reach and are easy to hit even when in the heat of battle.
It’s these – and the inclusion of two added paddles on the rear of the controller – which separate this from the standard wireless offering, pushing it more towards the Elite market.
Those options are rich too – there’s instant access to both the main volume and game/chat balance via some delightful buttons which brighten and dim as you tap the volumes up and down. There’s a Turtle Beach Superhuman Hearing button which amplifies your sound, letting you pick out finer details of your game, a mic mute button which glows red when switched on, so that you can be sure the online world can’t hear what’s going on in your real life, plus additional menu and select buttons.
It’s the the menu button which allows you to scroll through four features – mic monitoring, EQ settings, button mapping and Pro-Aim focus mode. And it’s these which are the real game changing moments. At least, if you’re looking for them.
Taking each as they come and mic monitoring does as you would suspect, scrolling through off, low, medium, high and max in terms of what your mic is able to produce sound wise. Now this is something that you’d normally look to amend by fumbling around and going into the Xbox audio settings on console, so having it sitting here at your fingertips is much appreciated.
The EQ settings also do as you would think, bringing forth Signature Sound, bass boost, bass and treble boost and vocal boosts as you wish and deem fit. It’s super easy to switch between them too so having the optimum audio settings for a variety of occasions is a cinch.
But then there is also the chance to set up 4 different controller profiles and to amend your right stick sensitivity with Pro-Aim; something you may wish to do if you consider yourself ‘pro’ enough.
Personally I’ve found little use for the Pro-Aim and have been more than happy with how the right stick works by default, but the numerous profile options are lovely to have, if only so to set up the rear paddles (or quick-action buttons as Turtle Beach wish for them to be known) with a couple of preferred personal options. The most simple of these would be in assigning manual gear changes whilst you’re playing the likes of DIRT 5 to those paddles, but you’re well capable of dropping any controller buttons to the left and right rear-mounted offerings as you so wish.
The paddles are brilliantly placed too, sitting right where your middle fingers naturally fall when grasping the controller. This means should you want to switch things up in the hope of getting an upper hand in your gaming session, you can do so without any real fuss. It’s a super simple setup too, working a press and hold of the select button and then pressing the buttons you want to assign. Programming these quick-action buttons has worked seamlessly every single time.
It goes without saying that the party tricks that the Turtle Beach Recon Controller has up its sleeve are good ones, and whilst not everyone will find a need for the quick-action buttons or the Pro-Aim adjustments, the chance to amend volumes on the fly, mute mics and play around with EQ settings, all without removing your hands from the controller, will be a godsend to others.
When you include the 3.5mm jack that will see any wired headset working nicely with the controller, and enough power in the built-in dual-vibration motors in the handles and triggers to keep you feeling immersed, and once again I’ll stress that there’s very little to not like about what has been created here. Hell, I’m even sold on the ‘ergonomic cooling grips’ which have been worked into the hand grips.
The only thing that is really worth consideration is whether or not you can deal with having your Xbox controller connected via cable to your console. That may be the killer for some, but should you not have an issue there, I’d wholeheartedly recommend a purchase of the Turtle Beach Recon Controller at the earliest opportunity.
Huge thanks go out to Turtle Beach for providing us with their Recon Controller for Xbox for full review. If you wish to pick one up for yourself, head to Turtle Beach direct. For just £49.99, it’s an absolute steal.