Gaming peripherals are continuously being tailored towards the competitive arena, so it makes sense that one of the more prolific manufactures, Razer, would cater to that market. Razer’s Wildcat controller for the Xbox One and Windows PC is an impressive, well-built controller for competitive gamers and eSports professionals – but it just falls short of being the best controller for your Xbox One or PC gaming needs.

It comes with an impressive feature set that should keep any competitive gamer happy; four remappable extra buttons, hair-triggers, built-in audio controls and optional (awful) grips mean the controller is designed to stay in your hands for the long haul. The rubberised grips come as adhesives that you have to stick on yourself, and they’re a real pain to get aligned properly. Razer advises against removing them once they’re in place, as they may not stick again. In truth, they’re a little on the cheap and nasty side, and aren’t at all necessary; the controller is comfortable enough without ‘em.

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It doesn’t stray too far from the Xbox One controller’s reference design, and is a little utilitarian in its approach, favouring function over form. That’s fine, because there’s very little wrong with the Xbox One controller. You’ve got the asymmetrical stick layout, and the same four face buttons, but they’ve been tuned for pro gamers. The D pad gives each input its own button, ditching the uni-mould design from the standard Xbox One controller. For shooters, this works quite well, and you’re able to precisely switch weapons with ease.

In other genres, it’s not quite as nice. In fighting games that use quarter circle movements like Street Fighter and Killer instinct, pulling of those sorts of moves becomes bothersome. It’s a little less of an issue in Mortal Kombat with its simpler inputs. Just know that this controller is tuned for shooting game. The sticks are smooth and precise, while the face buttons exhibit a satisfying click, and a very short travel time.

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Ideally, you won’t be using them too much, because in addition to the usual array of inputs, the Razer Wildcat comes equipped with four extra input that you’re able to program to suit your needs. The M1 and M2 buttons sit next the top bumpers, providing two easy to reach inputs, while the M3 and M4 triggers on the rear of the pad give you a further two inputs. They’re frighteningly easy to remap. Hold down the remap button, hold the trigger or bumper you want to remap and then tap the button you want to assign its function to. The controller will vibrate to let you know you’ve done it right, and you’re good to go.

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You can even set two distinct profiles for the assignments, which you’re able to swop on the fly if your brain works that way. Mine doesn’t – and it took me ages just to get used to the face buttons being mapped to the bumpers and triggers. Once I did though, it was revelatory. In Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, I was able to set my context and melee buttons to the bumpers, with switching between lancer and Gnasher to the second set of triggers. Save for a few weapon switches, I didn’t have to take my hands off the sticks at all. Did it make me a better player? Not especially – but with practice and determination I believe that it could.

On the rear of the controller, you’ll also find trigger stops, which allow you to set them to hair-trigger mode, which is boon if rapid fire is something you regularly use. It’s not dissimilar from the ones you’ll find on the Xbox One Elite controller, which is where the Wildcat’s appeal starts to wane.

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There’s nothing at all wrong with the Wildcat in isolation. It’s a purpose-built, well-engineered and well-made controller. The problem is that it’s been released in to a world where the Xbox One Elite controller exists. Where Microsoft’s own pro controller is wireless, this one is wired and comes with a detachable braided, break-away cable. Where The Razer Wildcat’s rear triggers need to be unscrewed for removal, the Xbox One Elite’s are magnetic. Where the Wildcat’s grips are nasty stickers, the Xbox One Elite’s cover the entire surface of the thing. And when it comes to customisation, the Elite just can’t be beat. Microsoft’s controller comes with three different sets of thumbsticks, two different d-pads (including a circular one for fighting games) and four optional paddles that you’re able to swop out on a whim thanks to their magnetic design.

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If the Wildcat has any advantages, it’s in its weight. A little lighter that the Elite, it’s geared for longer play sessions without become burdensome. The other bonus is the quick control panel and the built-in quick control panel, which lets you change volume and mute the microphone on the fly.

None of it would be an issue if Razer’s controller cost half what Microsoft’s does – but they’ll both set you back $150 (R3000 locally). Given the breadth of functionality that you’ll find in Microsoft’s Elite controller, the choice, as far as I’m concerned, is obvious.

 

Last Updated: June 27, 2016

Razer Wildcat
Summary
Razer's Wildcat controller for the Xbox One and Windows 10 is a well made, purpose-engineered input device that's perfect for shooters. Its biggest problem is that it competes with Microsoft's own pro controller - and comes up short.
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Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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