A while ago, the NACON Revolution 5 Pro controller for PS5 and PC was announced. We were invited to try our hands at it to see if it’s something. Here’s what we think of it.
Nice in the hands
When we finally held the Revolution 5, after a presentation, we immediately noticed that the controller feels nice in the hand. The materials are of good quality and textures are played with. The grip is a slightly harder type of rubber, while buttons are matte or smooth plastic. These different surfaces make the controller very pleasant to hold in the hand. However, the Revolution 5 Pro did initially seem a bit on the light side.
But we had received a box of parts that we were allowed to play with. Among them were weights. Without weights, the Revolution 5 is just a bit lighter than the DualSense, which explains why it was a bit uncomfortable. With the smallest weights, you more or less end up with the weight of the usual PS5 controller. After this small adjustment, everything was better. If you’re used to a heavier Xbox controller, then you’re in luck. There are two heavier sets that thus go toward that or just past it. You are also completely free to mismatch the weights, so you can totally figure out what you are comfortable with. If one of your hands is noticeably stronger, that can be nice.
There are also buttons on the back of the controller. We were worried that we were going to accidentally press those, or that they would feel distracting. Fortunately, that turns out not to be the case. The buttons are more or less positioned near your fingertips, whereas you’re more likely to hold a controller a calf or two further in, or even use your wrists.
The Revolution 5, like NACON’s other pro controllers, abandoned the symmetrical joysticks of the DualSense (or Dualshock) controllers to go for the asymmetrical layout you might be used to from Xbox controllers. If you’re completely used to PlayStation hardware, this may take some getting used to. But if, on the contrary, you’re more into a higher left stick, this will probably be music to your ears.
When we asked Yannick Allaert, the head of accessories, why they chose this he told us that at NACON they want to offer an alternative. If an Xbox gamer wants to play games on the PS5, it’s nice if you can choose from a controller that requires less getting used to. “It has to do with community,” he explained.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to swap the D-pad and the left stick. Yannick informed us that that technology is not quite there yet. At least, not without sacrificing something else, such as response time. And since they are primarily aimed at professional or competitive gamers, they don’t want that.
The Revolution 5 Pro has obviously made some strides in improving the hardware. Otherwise, you’re not going to buy the thing and stick with the DualSense that came with your console. What surprised us most when the controller was announced is the battery life. It would, in fact, be at least ten hours. Longer if you turn off the LED lights and microphone, for example. That’s double the expected four hours of gaming time you have now.
Another advance is the magnetic Hall effect used for the joysticks. This is instead of the usual rubber bands. The Hall effect is said to be more sensitive, allowing the Revolution 5 to be more precise with your movements. It also prevents stick drift, a problem that can be quite annoying anyway. Finally, magnets last more than twice as long as the rubber bands the DualSense has now.
You can also connect wireless earphones or wireless headphones to the Revolution 5. This then works the same as connecting a headset with a cable. The lack of cable can make the whole thing a lot more comfortable. Plus, you won’t get tangled up either. However, this feature does only work if the controller is wired or you are using the new Bluetooth Dongle. In that case, we recommend the latter.
Finally, you have the response time. On the PS5, the Revolution 5 has a response time of 6 milliseconds. This compares to the 9 milliseconds of the DualSense. On the PC, this is further reduced to 4 milliseconds. This may sound like very little. Does three thousandths of a second really matter? Indeed, in many cases you won’t notice this. But for pro gamers this can be just the difference in shooting first or getting shot. If you only play mostly without PvP, then it is negligible.
Unfortunately, there are also some lost features. For example, the rumble and adaptive technology are no longer there. This is a shame, because for some games, these do really add something. Unfortunately, Sony NACON’s patent does not allow these features to be put into the Revolution 5.
Allaert did not consider this a great loss. “Many gamers, and certainly pros, usually turn off these features anyway.” Indeed, when talking about competitive gamers, rumble and adaptive triggers are often turned off. And that is really the target market for this controller. But it was still nice to have the option to turn it on.
Another thing missing are the magnetic pins on the bottom. This means you can’t charge the Revolution 5 in your controller dock. Now of course, you also need it less because of the significantly longer battery life, but once in a while you will still have to hang it on a cable. And then a dock still looks a lot better as a setpiece in your living room.
Let’s come back to that box for a moment. There’s more in there than the weights we talked about earlier. For example, you can switch the D-pad between 4-way or 8-way buttons. You can raise the joysticks so you’re more accurate in shooters and racers, while on the other hand, you can attach rings around the neck of a joystick to reduce the angle and thus improve your reaction time in fighters. Replacement is all surprisingly easy, with the parts clicking in and out in no time. That while they don’t feel loose while gaming.
There’s more to adjustability. In fact, you can also set all the buttons and even save profiles for different games or even for different weapons. For example, the back buttons are blank by themselves, but we made them L3 and R3. That’s nicer than clicking the joystick in anyway. You can also just put something on it that you use a lot, so you can press the button twice as often and have two places you can reach for in a panicky moment.
You can also customize the fixed buttons. For example, you can set how far you have to press a button before it registers, or how far the triggers can be pressed at all. This can help considerably with reaction time, or especially if you have somewhat weaker fingers. You can also customize the button layout. Allaert pointed out that he likes to swap things around because he is left-handed. Even the joysticks he switches then. Unfortunately, you can’t switch the physical buttons, so you have to know what’s where. Some software adjustments can be done through the controller itself, but some are done through the accompanying app. We didn’t get to work with that yet, so we can’t say much about it.
Worth the price tag?
The first thing you will notice as you make your way to the website is the nevertheless hefty price tag. $229.90 is not little for a controller. Especially when you consider that two can almost buy you a PS5. So the question is whether you will get your money’s worth out of it.
If you like competitive games, the Revolution 5 is a hefty upgrade. The customizability makes it completely customizable to your needs, and the shorter response time sometimes makes just the difference. If you’re mostly of single player games, then it’s mostly about the customization. If the DualSense is not quite what you want and you have the money left over to go for an upgrade, then this controller can be well worth the money. If you like the old controller well enough on its own, then you may want to save yourself that penny.
Especially for pro gamers
All in all, the NACON Revolution 5 controller is a decent upgrade on the DualSense. The loss of rumble and adaptive triggers is unfortunate, as is the magnetic pins. But the customizability is well worth it. The biggest drawback is actually the price, which can still be hard for noncompetitive gamers to justify. If, on the other hand, you play a lot of PvP, then you will definitely notice a difference.