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Geek Review: Nacon Revolution 5 Pro Controller

For as long as there have been gamers, there have been tools and accessories that offer players an edge over the rest, as if it’s the shoes that make the runner. For console players, much to the amusement of the PC Master Race, it’s placing faith in the ‘Pro’, or professional controllers that offer slightly more features to hardcore players, as newer games, such as 2020’s free-to-play battle royale, Call of Duty: Warzone, established the catalyst for another wave of ‘Pro’ controllers, as gamers demanded niftier ways which might make the difference between a well-executed dropshot kill and a visit to the gulag.

From extra buttons, additional back bumpers to even weight customisation, a Pro controller’s offer of added dexterity and flexibility over a regular controller even extends to newer, unorthodox ways to hold your controller. Fast forward to 2024 and the Pro controller scene is now littered with options, like the skins available for a game character, with prices ranging from S$150, to up to S$300, versus S$90 for a regular Dualshock PlayStation 5 controller. 

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The Nacon Revolution 5 Pro, or Nacon R5P for short, stands out in that it’s not a PlayStation 5 accessory from yet another peripheral company, but the S$339.90 device is actually an officially licensed Sony controller that gives the high-performance, ultra-customizable DualSense Edge (S$295) controller a run for its money. Both sets have Hall effect sensors that bid farewell to the dreaded stick drift which has claimed the lives of one too many DualShock controllers. It also eliminates the scratchiness you feel in other controllers – such as the slight friction one would experience after prolonged wear and tear of the analog sticks. In addition, the Nacon R5P has some unique tricks up its sleeve, including direct Bluetooth headphone pairing and an array of customisable options. On the flipside, it overlooks some basic features, such as haptic feedback and viable button placements, which console gamers have been accustomed to for the past decade, making it feel like Nacon has overthought things a little too much.

Despite this, Nacon definitely went out of their way in terms of build quality. Right out of the box, you’ll see the Nacon R5P packed inside a sleek, hard mesh carrying case, with a translucent plastic box containing a whole myriad of customisable parts, including three sets of interchangeable thumbstick toppers in various shapes and sizes, and stick bracers to reduce the travel distance for the thumbsticks by widening the circumference of the base of each thumbstick. Perhaps the most seemingly gimmicky of all would be the mini dumbbells provided that you can connect to the back of the stems of the controller, which increases its weight. Surprisingly it does make a difference as you can definitely feel the weight of the controller distributed closer towards the base of your hands, making for greater comfort over longer periods of play.

That being said – it seems like Nacon has strictly defined its target audience to be those already familiar with pimped-out controllers, as it comes with a mere A5 sized quick start guide so you’ll have to go online if you really want to maximise your use of this intricate controller. It comes fitted with a generously long 3 metre (10 feet) long braided USB Type-C cable, to facilitate wired play or if you simply need to give it a quick charge. It’s a bit annoying that because of the way the controller is built, the USB Type-C port on top of the Nacon R5P is sunken in such that you can only use this provided cable to wire and charge it up. For those who cringe at wires and cables, you can expect about ten hours of wireless battery life on the Nacon R5P, which easily trumps the DualSense Edge’s four to six hours.

Regardless, you can see why avid gamers would still covet the Nacon R5P. Weighing in at a hefty 315 grams, it’s about 10 per cent heavier than the Dualsense, and considerably heavier than the DualShock 4’s 215 grams, making you feel like you’re wielding something sturdy and powerful. With the additional 32g you can slap on this heavyweight, it can feel too overbearing but that’s the advantage of this Pro device. 

Effectively though, Nacon has effectively made an Xbox controller for the PlayStation 5, as the Nacon R5P’s bulkiness does make it look more like the controller you would find included with Microsoft’s console. It’s chunkier from top to bottom, and what may be the most jarring would be that it features an asymmetric stick layout – making the PlayStation home button and touchpad seem more like a cruel joke.

However, Nacon has definitely made up for it with the immense grip and feel you get from playing with the R5P, which is also compatible with the PC and PlayStation 4. Besides the extremely tacky and textured thumbsticks, the sides of the controller are lined with rubberized stripes that feel cushy, ensuring that it stays firmly in your hands especially if you’re in a sweaty situation. This circumvents a common complaint of those more accustomed to Playstation controllers, as the controller will still stay in place despite pushing the raised left stick forward. The attention to detail is appreciated – all the thumbstick tops are outlined with a corrugated rubberized texture, which makes you feel in control despite multiple changes of direction. 

Looking sideways, the Nacon R5P features chunky and accentuated face buttons with minimal wiggle in each slot, which feels equally as satisfying and responsive when pressed. The default D-pad also features a circular design that allows for 360-degree input, which can come in handy for fighting game fanatics that prefer to slide their left thumb across the arrows to input combos more rapidly. However, it leaves you more prone to errors especially when playing games like Helldivers 2, which requires intricate and complex arrow combinations to call in additional firepower. Thankfully Nacon also has an answer to this, providing a more traditional 4-way topper for the D-pad tucked within the translucent black box of trinkets provided.

Flipping it over, the back of the controller looks like a Texas Instruments calculator. There’s a profile button that allows you to toggle between four pre-loaded presets, which can be configured via the PC app. Next to it is a toggle that allows you to swap between PS5, PS4, and PC and rounding things off is a toggle for classic and advanced control. Classic mode allows for typical customisations like button mapping, trigger travel actuation, and audio controls via the touchpad, while Advanced mode allows for more in-depth calibration for those more particular. The only caveat is that there is no trigger lock for the profile button, which could lead to comical situations where you accidentally tap on it, resulting in a spike in thumbstick sensitivity that will see you wildly flinging your firearm in all directions.

At the bottom of the back is a button to activate the Nacon R5P’s built-in Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity, flanked by a pair of on-device buttons for volume control. It’s tied with the Hall effect thumbsticks as the best feature of this controller, as it allows you to bypass PlayStation console restrictions for Bluetooth headphones because you can pair them straight to the controller. Say goodbye to the days of wearing headsets over earpieces to talk to your friends and listen to in-game audio at the same time.

The main selling point for any luxury game controller would be the greater functionality it provides with additional back buttons. Despite supplementing you with four more additional mappable buttons though, these are placed along the insides of the stems of the Nacon R5P, which can be easily accessed with your middle and ring fingers. This means many accidental mishaps and negligent discharges can happen, even when you’re just adjusting your grip, which makes you wish the buttons weren’t there altogether.

Topping it off, both shoulder bumpers and triggers are snappy and responsive, with the triggers also having a dotted grip running down its spine to keep your fingers in place. There are also built-in trigger stops on the back of the controller that gives you the option to reduce the travel range for trigger actuation, which makes it ideal for fast-paced shooting games that feature semi-automatic/burst-fire weapons that demand quick activation of the triggers between each shot.

Unfortunately, there are three major drawbacks with the Nacon R5P, two of which are the lack of adaptive triggers and haptic feedback, and the absence of a built-in speaker. Granted that it may not be the priority for pro gamers to have these features, but it makes for an extremely immersive and memorable in-game experience, like hearing your boost go off in Rocket League directly from your controller, or the added tension you feel from the triggers when you pull a bow in The Last of Us

Perhaps the most shocking of all is the lack of vibration when using this controller for the PS5. Even with Sony’s backing, software limitations around how PS5 games are coded have resulted in Nacon omitting a hallmark haptic feature that has defined console gaming over the past few decades. It’s a non-issue for PC and PS4 users, but there are plenty of other options out there if you’re looking to invest S$300 on a controller.

The Nacon Revolution 5 Pro in white and black.

On paper, the Nacon R5P should be able to go pound-for-pound with its rivals like the Sony DualSense Edge. It features Hall effect thumbsticks, Bluetooth headset connectivity, and is very well-built and durable. Sure, the physical customisation and add-ons give you great autonomy and personalisation – which is akin to playing with Lego bricks. Ultimately, it’s hard to justify the hefty premium, particularly given the glaring lack of mainstay features that most controllers have had for years. Nacon has missed the mark with this one – by focusing too much on what it thinks gamers want, rather than need.

The Navon Revolution 5 Pro was provided by distributor Flex Sea Gaming.

GEEK REVIEW SCORE

Summary

The Nacon Revolution 5 Pro is a great option for those that prioritise physical customisation, such as interchangeable thumbsticks, swappable D-pad options, and controller weights. Despite having direct Bluetooth headset connectivity and anti-stick drift thumbsticks, baffling design choices and the lack of basic features cast a shadow on what would’ve otherwise been a great premium controller.

Overall
7.1/10
7.1/10
  • Aesthetics - 8.8/10
    8.8/10
  • Build Quality - 9/10
    9/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Value - 4.5/10
    4.5/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 5.5/10
    5.5/10