Turtle Beach have long been known for their excellent gaming headphones, and now they are turning their attention to the controller side of things. The Recon controller aims to bring in some high level features while keeping the price reasonable, looking to fill in a mid-ground between the standard pad and an Elite. What has been achieved is quite simply excellent, bringing not only solid control feel but a host of extras that have spilled over from the headset range to make a great hybrid style device.
Let’s get to those extras first, as they are what make the Recon stand out. In addition to the usual fare of buttons – including the newer share button – we have a row of additional ones that adorn the top of the pad. First up, we have dedicated volume controls on the left and right that allow us to adjust the volume and game/chat balance respectively. In a neat touch, the backlight actually glows brighter/darker depending on the level it’s on. I’ve noted before how much I enjoy being able to adjust this balance on my device but having it on the controller in such an accessible and clearly readable way is excellent.
It only gets better from here. Next up, the signature Turtle Beach Superhuman Hearing mode is included. A press of the button activates the mode, and those who have used it in the past will know how much it helps with hearing footsteps or other fine details in online games especially. It effectively works by heightening the treble audio and dampening the bass, so it’s not suited to all situations but it really can be a game changer in the right circumstance. And again, having it clearly lit up and a mere button press away is a great addition to the controller.
Moving along, the mode button dictates which of the four dashboard items we can adjust; mic monitoring, EQ, button mapping, and Pro Aim. Each one has four settings – again indicated by the central four little LED’s – that function differently for each one. For example, EQ cycles through Signature sound, Treble boost, Bass Boost, and finally Treble and Bass Boost. The Pro Aim meanwhile dictated how much our aim is slowed when pressing the right mappable button on the underside of the pad, from slow to almost a dead stop. Mic monitoring does what it say on the tin, while button mapping lets us have four presets for the underside mappable buttons. These are mapped on the controller itself, no need for an extra app. Just hold the select button for a moment, then press the underside button you wish to map before pressing the button you’d like it mapped to and then holding select to confirm. This is an easy system to use, and means we can effectively hot swap configurations out on the fly. Finally there is a mic mute button that – you’ll be stunned to hear – mutes the mic.
It might sound like there’s a lot going on the pad, potentially making it a bit busy and bulky. That’s not the case though, as the form factor of the Recon is pretty much the same as the official pad. It’s ever so slightly less ‘natural’ feeling to my hands than the official pad, but over the time I’ve been using it that was only really noticeable in the first few games using it. If anything, I actually really like the way it feels now, and have found myself going to this rather than my standard pad without even thinking. Being wired, it’s not all that heavy either thanks to a lack of batteries, again feeling comparable to the official controller in my hands.
The USB-A to C cable included is nicely braided, coming in at 3m long, which was plenty for my play space though if you needed more any other USB-C cable should do the trick as it’s not hard wired into the controller.
In terms of the basics, Turtle Beach have done an excellent job of delivering nice feeling sticks and buttons. I was little concerned to start with as the sticks look rather smooth compared to other pads, and I often find ones without decent grips tend to get slippery quickly. However, once again my expectations were exceeded here, with them performing brilliantly across everything I played with it. I especially found playing Splitgate a breeze with it, as well as Halo 5, Faraday Protocol, and more. Buttons are perfectly clicky, and the triggers feature all the rumble and grippy bits that you’d expect. I do think the bumper buttons are slightly off somehow, in that it’s not as natural to flick between them as it is on the Series pad, but they are still great to use and nice and responsive.
The underside mappable buttons round out the features, and these are a great addition too. I fully expect all pads in the near future to feature at least a couple of buttons under here, such is the usefulness of them. The ones here are decent, though coming off an Elite controller it took some getting used to only having two. They also feel slightly off in their placement to me, placed almost in between where my fingers want to lie. Again, it was a bit of an adjustment period but for those new to this feature they will no doubt be easier to get to grips with. They are at least nice and chunky so it’s not a case of fumbling around trying to find them. My only other nit-pick with them – and this could just be me being daft – is if I had them set to perform a face button, but also had Pro Aim on then the button would perform double duty; so if I jumped and tried to turn the stick I’d have a brief unwanted blip of slower look turning. This could possibly be overcome by remapping the buttons or clearing the preset, but it’s an odd oversight that might mean players will need to choose between one mode or another.
I still remember the days of third party controllers being the bane of a siblings existence, such was the sub-par quality on offer, so I’m still in awe at how well these fare in the modern day. For a first foray into the space, Turtle Beach have absolutely knocked it out of the park. The Recon aims high in terms of its feature set, and delivers a fantastic range of options for a frankly ludicrously cheap price. At £10 less than an official wireless controller, the amount of extra bits and pieces make this a no-brainer in my eyes – if you don’t mind being tethered to the console. From feel, to usability, features and looks, the Recon is utterly excellent.Become a Patron!
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