In recent years, Nacon’s been making a name for themselves in the gaming industry with their high quality brand of peripherals and gaming chairs. Time to test one for ourselves, and the recent release of the Revolution Pro Controller 3 was the perfect opportunity.
Nacon is actually a brand owned by Bigben, so they’re certainly no stranger to the gaming industry. As is the case with their publishing arm, Nacon also focuses on consoles as well as PCs, though they haven’t released any Xbox-specific hardware yet. Their PS4 lineup’s been growing steadily, and the new Nacon Revolution Pro Controller 3 is a crossover gamepad that can be used natively on the PS4 as well as on PC – with enhancements available for both options.
Let’s start with what’s in the box. The Revolution Pro Controller 3 comes with a sturdy carry case that lets you transport your premium controller without the risk of damaging it, but there’s another practical benefit to the case. The new Nacon gamepad comes with several accessories, which also fit in the case. There’s a high quality braided USB cable to help connect it to your PS4 or PC, and there’s a little box of miniature weights to help weigh down the gamepad to your personal preferences – both fit comfortably in the case and there’s also room for the included cloth that helps you clean everything.
The USB cable is detachable, but the gamepad itself (like many controllers geared towards the competitive market) will only operate in wired mode and thus has no battery included. Previous wired gamepads we’ve tried have felt light to the touch as a result, but even without extra weights the Nacon feels extremely comfortable in our hands despite the lack of an internal battery to weigh it down. Want to tweak the weight a bit more? The included weights can be inserted at the bottom of the pad’s grips, and while the difference isn’t great it’s a subtle nuance that can help make your grip just that tiny bit more comfortable. In my personal experience, I thought the weights were a great way to offset the small pull of the cable at the top of the pad, which became a complete non-issue as a result.
I’ve mentioned that the Nacon Revolution Pro Controller 3 is a premium gamepad. That’s clear when looking at the price point (it’s a fair bit more expensive than Sony’s standard Dualshock controllers), but the build quality is the best we’ve seen in any third party gamepad and it comes with features the Dualshock can’t provide – we’ll talk more about those later. The gamepad itself has textured material on the grips to make sure you have and maintain a comfortable hold on the pad as it keeps it from sliding even when the action gets intense.
There are a few striking differences between the Nacon pad and Sony’s Dualshocks that are apparent right from the start. There’s the wired factor, but the Nacon pad also doesn’t include the lightbar at the back of the controller, which disqualifies the pad for games that use it (which includes a lot of VR titles). On the plus side, the Revolution Pro Controller 3 does feature a handy player number indicator that tells you which player you are – something Sony dropped after the Dualshock 3.
Another big difference is that the Revolution Pro Controller 3 has a thumbstick layout that’s more like the Xbox One controllers than the Dualshocks, with the left one positioned above the D-Pad rather than next to the right thumbstick. While it may be a matter of personal preference, I’ve always preferred the left thumbstick in the higher position where its alignment with the face buttons feels more natural, so I’m very happy with this layout.
Something that’s not immediately visible is a feature that can be seen when you flip the controller over – there are four shortcut buttons positioned on the back of the grips that can be programmed to take over certain functions in the game. While not always an obvious choice, I thought this was extremely useful when programmed in such a way that I didn’t have to switch my thumb over to the D-Pad during play. If possible, however, my advice would be to program only one of the buttons on each side, or to program both to the same function – it could be a matter of grip but accidental button presses did happen and it’s not surprising since these are buttons that are out of sight. Other good uses for these shortcuts are ones where you otherwise have to press down the thumbstick, for instance to sprint.
The Nacon Revolution Pro Controller 3 is highly programmable and customizable, but you’ll need access to a PC to make use of the software to unlock these tools. Once set up, its options include the ability to map those shortcut buttons, but also cosmetic options like the color of the LED ring around the right thumbstick. More practical, however, are the ways to set up the thumbsticks and D-Pad, as well as the shoulder buttons. You can tweak the sensitivity of all of these controls, which I’ve found to be a massive help for games that otherwise feel a little ‘floaty’ with their controls. It’s easy to imagine this for first person shooters where you want tight and responsive controls, but it can make a huge difference for games like Super Meat Boy as well – titles that demand ultra-precise controls. Setting up the sensitivity of the shoulder buttons is a good way to tweak your controls for racing games, especially those towards the sim end of the things (I noticed big benefits in Codemasters’ Grid and Bigben’s own WRC series). The D-Pad wasn’t forgotten either, and can be set up as either an 8 or 4-way direction pad – which is useful in arcade-oriented games.
The Nacon Revolution Pro Controller 3 wasn’t developed with the casual gamer in mind, which is clear from both the price point and the feature set. The build quality is the best we’ve seen so far and the ways you can customize your gaming experience are what push the gameplay experience well past what a Dualshock can offer. You’ll need a PC to set it up properly, but the config suite is intuitive and well worth the time if you want to squeeze the most out of your games. If you want to push your performance just that little bit further, you owe it to yourself to try out a controller like this – you’ll feel the difference and know it was worth the higher asking price.