Turtle Beach Recon Controller review: "A superb set of features at a low price"

Turtle Beach Recon Controller
(Image: © Future/Brendan Griffiths)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

A controller with so many tasty options and features we're still surprised it doesn't cost a hell of a lot more.


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    Affordable price

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    Excellent customization features

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    Great grip on handles and shoulder buttons


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    No wireless version

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    Audio features are for wired headsets only

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The Turtle Beach Recon Controller is here to offer you a range of customization options on Xbox or PC for a super low price compared to the fancier options like the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 or Razer Wolverine Ultimate Edition. In fact, considering it's actually less than half the price of those controllers, this might be the bargain of the year.

The standard Xbox Series X controller might look like a bit of a lazy update compared to the Xbox One model, and it is, but it's really grown on me since the new console was released. The ever-so-slightly smaller design sits in the hand a bit better and the rumble features are improved too. But if you're shopping around for something a bit different, then this third-party option is well worth a look.

Turtle Beach Recon Controller

(Image credit: Future/Brendan Griffiths)

Turtle Beach's new controller is one we can heartily recommend rather than just picking up another Series X one, even if some of Microsoft's color options are superb. Not only is this Turtle Beach controller cheaper, but it provides a bunch of other features, some of which we've not seen anywhere else. 

Available in black or white, the Recon is a touch lighter in the hand than Microsoft's model, but not enough to feel cheap or flimsy. Rubberized grip pads are a nice touch, but the most innovative area where you'll find extra grip is on the shoulder buttons. A tight dotted texture here is something I've not seen on other controllers and it's especially useful for driving games.

Vibration motors in the grips and under the shoulder buttons are also surprisingly powerful, although it's noisier than we like with quite a lot of rattle coming from them topside. The kickback simulated by the vibration in the shoulders, though, really emphasizes the violent shifts in momentum when you slam on the brakes in Forza Horizon 4.

Turtle Beach Recon Controller

(Image credit: Future/Brendan Griffiths)

Yes, this is a wired controller, which always takes a bit of getting used to, but considering the low price, not to mention never having to mess around with battery packs, we're happy to let this slide. The cable is 10ft/3m long which is more than enough for most rooms and it has a nice braided finish too.

One thing you've probably noticed from the images is the array of extra buttons and modes atop the controller. This is where the controller's value for money really shines as many of these buttons represent features you'd usually expect to find on controllers priced at $100 and more - not $60. You're also getting an extra two remappable buttons on the underside of the controller, which feature the same dotted texture gip as the shoulder buttons.

One of the features you can select is the 'Pro-Aim Focus Mode', which has four different levels of intensity. Aim as normal in any shooter title while holding the right underside button and you're able to really slow down the aim to perfect your shot with very slight adjustments of the right analog. It's an excellent feature for lining up deadly headshots at greater distances. Taking so long to do so in online multiplayer will see you getting caught out, but for single-player games, it's brutally effective.

Turtle Beach Recon Controller

(Image credit: Future/Brendan Griffiths)

An audio boost...from a controller?

A lot of the controller's other features revolve around audio. As long as you're using a wired headset plugged into the controller via the 3.5mm port that is - so forget about any of the following features if you're using a wireless gaming headset, unless it has an optional wired mode too. But hey, there are plenty of wired options in our best Xbox Series X headsets guide.

The Turtle Beach Recon controller has a 'Superhuman hearing' mode for enhanced surround sound tailored to online shooters, so you can get pinpoint directional audio from incoming fire or footsteps. It essentially amplifies these sounds and the effect is certainly more noticeable on quality headsets rather than cheaper models (so don't expect miracles). Being able to also swap between multiple audio modes to boost bass, vocals, treble, and more is another neat feature to find on such an affordable controller.

On-board buttons let you change the volume and chat balance too, without going into the Xbox settings. To be fair, most headsets have these controls on them as well, but being able to switch between four different levels of mic monitoring from the controller buttons is very handy.

Button mapping to the additional buttons on the rear of the controller is also available, although I found it best to leave the right one attached to the fine aiming feature. It's a bit fiddly to remember how to rebind the buttons without the instructions. There's no on-screen app for this but, again, the controller is only $60.

Rebinding is well worth the effort if you're keen on keeping your thumbs on the analogs in multiplayer shooters and using the new button to reload or jump over obstacles when trying to make it to cover in time might give your K/D ratio a boost.

Turtle Beach Recon Controller

(Image credit: Future/Brendan Griffiths)

Should you buy the Turtle Beach Recon Controller?

The Turtle Beach Recon Controller is excellent value and ideal for anyone that wants some helpful extra features on their pad without paying silly money. The enhanced audio is great if you can connect a wired headset, but it's the precision aiming, remappable buttons, and excellent grip all over the controller that really makes this gamepad stand out. 

More info

Available platformsTech, PC, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
Brendan Griffiths

Brendan is GamesRadar's former Managing Editor of the Hardware & eCommerce team. He also spent time as the Deals Editor at our sister site, TechRadar. He's obsessed with finding the best tech, games, gadgets, and hardware at the lowest price. He also spends way too much of his free time trying to decide what new things to watch on Netflix, then just rewatches It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia instead. Nowadays you'll find him as the eCommerce Content Director for Future's mobile tech sites, Android Central, iMore, and Windows Central.