“This peripheral oozes style and offers marvellous functionality.”
Razer’s Wildcat controller for Xbox One and Windows is the gaming tech giants’ answer to esports-level gaming beyond the realms of the keyboard and mouse. It doubles up of course as a successor to their previous Sabertooth model, introducing a brand new design and features list without removing any of the classic Razer style. For high-level gamers or even those who are simply looking to get more out of their gameplay experience, the Wildcat will certainly be an option that places high up the maybe list. The real question is does it deserve to top that list, and is it worth the rather hefty price tag that comes attached to it?
My first impressions of the Wildcat out of the box were positive. It is visually appealing, with Razer having largely maintained the front-facing Xbox One design whilst adding their own, traditional stylings. Through splashes of green on the thumb sticks and their infamous logo on the right hand grip, the creators of the Wildcat make their presence known without disturbing the overall layout. This move is intended to make the pad feel more familiar to gamers, whilst reminding them that they have just made the leap to what should be a significant upgrade. The controller also includes a four button interface at the base which can be used to easily control groups and game chat via a connected headset with ease. If it suits your comfort preferences and gaming style, you can also apply the included Razer green hand grips, the right of which blends perfectly with the logo on the pad itself. The appearance when these are added is enhanced for sure, with comfort and operability following closely behind. Initial signs pointed to a very well thought out design.
Turning the controller over of course reveals more of its enhanced usability and features. Extra bumpers sit between the standard Xbox One fixtures, and additional removable triggers sit on the very back coated in shiny silver. It is unfortunate that these were not painted in the house-style of glossy black, or even dyed a bright and welcoming Razer green, but aesthetically this is the only setback the pad experiences. Perhaps the only other gripe which some may find is with the visible locks on the back to allow for the controller’s customisation. Even the cable is of a superior quality to the standard recharging cables for the Xbox One’s regular devices. Both the cable and controller itself pack away tidily into the included protective display case for transport and safe keeping, bearing on its front the Razer logo in an unobtrusive black on black. The whole package together screams quality to the eye. If you need any evidence that care has been taken in designing the product, it is certainly clear here.
Moving on to using the controller, firstly without the additional components it offers, you notice how much lighter it is without the usual wireless battery pack attached. Although some may prefer to play with a wireless controller, you certainly can’t deny the improved comfort offered through the reduced weight that the Wildcat offers. The comfort-focussed, ergonomically-moulded design of the grips on each side make it feel odd in your hands at first, but later you realise the more relaxed position you are able to hold the pad in because of these. The additional bumpers are a little hard to reach from a comfortable position if you have smaller hands, and will certainly take some getting used to in the operating department the first few times you try to use them. The audio controls at the base are also a little awkward, not always being necessary and occasionally disrupting the visual aesthetic as a result.
There are a few issues with the front buttons on the Wildcat too. The d-pad is a little restrictive, with the buttons being separated rather than connected as they usually would be. The A, B, X and Y buttons also click rather distractingly. This is not so much of a problem when playing with headphones, but without them it is a very noticeable distraction which detracts from the device’s overall air of quality. They do however appear to have a marginally faster, more responsive reaction than the standard Xbox One pad. This bodes well for Razer’s claim of hyper responsive inputs across the buttons on the Wildcat. Also on the plus side for the controller’s front side, the optional grips make a fantastic addition. Comfort is improved, along with the visual aesthetic. Your grip feels much more secure, and the controller itself is only made negligibly bulkier in return. The grips are certainly worth having on the device in order to appreciate and make the most of its full usability and value.
The removable triggers, easily added or indeed taken away by the included tool, make a significant difference to how you play. Intended foremost for FPS players, they remove the need for you to ever take your fingers off the thumb sticks, allowing functions which would usually require this to be programmed to them instead. Whilst it is a bit of a learning curve to get used to using back controls rather than the front ones in such situations, it is a system which works well once you get the hang of it. Having more buttons does of course allow you to set out your game’s controls in whatever way is most comfortable to you, expanding your options well beyond the standard ones offered by a generic pad. Apart from the slightly awkward positioning of the additional bumpers, Razer have thought their additions through well.
Generally speaking then, the Razer Wildcat looks good, feels great to play with and despite a few minor gripes which can be found with it the pad performs very well. What will be most important to gamers however will be is it the best option for then. In terms of a straight comparison with the standard Xbox One controller, there is a noticeable range of improvements to enjoy. A more comfortable, lighter shape, greater functionality through added buttons and general programmability and customisability are probably the most notable improvements. Compared to the Xbox Elite controller on the other hand, the Wildcat is maybe on a par. It focuses on different needs of the gamer, with its esports background forming the core of its design and features. I felt more comfortable using the Elite controller, and felt it was easier to control and had more high-quality components to enjoy. The Wildcat however tops it with the hand grips, thumb grips, weight and ergonomic design. It really depends on what you are looking for personally then as to whether the Wildcat or Elite controller suits your style better. If you are going for a hardcore option however, specifically for competitive gaming, the Wildcat may suit you best.
Due to its extreme popularity with gamers, being frequently described as the best gaming controller design to date, it is also necessary to compare the Wildcat as a PC option to the classic Xbox 360 controller. The 360 controller is a superb shape and size, and offers great functionality and comfort in its use to the gamer. The Wildcat surpasses it in many ways however, including greater durability, response times and customisability. Razer may have been better off taking the 360 shape forwards over the Xbox One style due to general player preference, and perhaps shot too closely to the newer console’s pads to keep their style looking up to date. A half way house would have been nice, but in any case, any PC gamer looking to upgrade from a 360 pad should consider the Razer Wildcat very seriously as a very solid option.
Having considered every aspect of the Wildcat and even compared it to its competitors, the only thing left to note is its price. You pay for quality here, as well as adding an included tip for holding the Razer brand in your hands. At the time of writing, the price of the Wildcat stands at £119.99, which is a big ask for your average gamer. The controller however is aimed at competitive gamers rather than your more casual player, and in a competition setting you want to be using the best that is available to you. At a cheaper price than the Xbox Elite controller (£149.99 at the time of writing), the Wildcat does hold a strong hand in terms of value for money. However, at over twice the price of a standard Xbox One controller, price is still a sticking point which may hold this device back. Relatively speaking then, the Wildcat is an expensive gaming controller solution, but a well-valued one for a high end product.
All things considered, the Razer Wildcat is a product which I can recommend. If you want to have the best equipment going and look good using it, you can’t go wrong with a Razer-branded, esports-focussed gaming controller. This peripheral oozes style and offers marvellous functionality. The high-end features boasted by Razer are noticeable improvements upon the standard Xbox One controller’s capabilities and design. It is also a cheaper option than the alternative Xbox Elite controller, making it great value for money. Nonetheless, there is space for improvements with the controllers next, updated iteration. Some components, perhaps most notably the front-side buttons of the controller, could be designed to a better quality to reduce noise and increase functionality. The placement of the additional bumpers could also be made more comfortable, and the optional triggers could be better designed to fit the overall house style. Make some of these improvements and this device really will top the controller game. As it stands right now, this is still an ideal solution to your competitive gaming needs.
- Superbly stylish design as you would expect from one of the biggest brands in gaming peripherals.
- High-quality appearance throughout, from the pad itself to the optional grips, to the cable and carry case included with it.
- Lightweight, ergonomic design offers a very comfortable gaming experience.
- Optional hand grips and thumb grips allow for even greater control.
- Noticeably reactive buttons thanks to the hyper responsive hardware design.
- Attached audio and party controls, including the new 3.5mm connection, allow for easy management of communications on the fly.
- Optional additional triggers open up control options in-game, allowing both thumb sticks to be used without moving off them to activate other functions.
- Ideally crafted for competitive gaming through the esports-inspired style.
- Great value for money against other high-end controller options.
- Optional triggers should have been designed to visually fit the house style.
- Locks on the rear of the controller could perhaps have been better hidden.
- Awkwardly placed additional bumpers can be difficult to reach and use.
- When not in use, the audio controls look out of place and bulky.
- Restrictive d-pad due to unconnected button design.
- Noisy A, B, X and Y buttons can be distracting if playing without headphones.
- An expensive controller solution for your average gamer to pay out for.