Last year at the EB Games Expo on the Gold Coast I discovered Razer’s line up of pro gaming controllers. I noticed a huge difference in my gameplay thanks to Razer Raiju Pro controller. It was seriously impressive and like night and day compared to the standard DualShock 4.
When I bought an Xbox One S, I looked forward to one day getting Razer’s Xbox variant — the Wolverine. Razer kindly sent me a review unit of their Wolverine Tournament Edition controller, not to be confused with the Wolverine Ultimate Gaming Controller.
The Wolverine Ultimate is Razer’s top of the line Pro controller. The Ultimate has interchangeable thumbsticks, triggers, D-Pad and audio controls. All of which the Wolverine TE does not. But that doesn’t mean the Tournament Edition isn’t a great controller.
Build, buttons and grip, oh my
The Wolverine feels exceptionally well made. From the moment you take it out of the box, its gorgeous stealth black finish captures you. It feels great in hand and looks like something the military would make for drone pilots. The rubberised grips give it a firm feel. It won’t be sliding out of sweaty hands any time soon.
The ABXY buttons are Mecha-tactile buttons that give a satisfying, loud click with each press. The Xbox home button lies in a slight recess which is lined with the Razer Chroma Lighting strip. The home button also doesn’t light up like on the standard controllers; instead, there is now a small power light indicator to let you know the controller is on. Below this is a subtle etched Razer logo.
The Wolverine’s trigger buttons have a Hair-Trigger function. Once activated, the travel distance of the triggers is shortened for a far quicker response. A small slider switch on the back of the controller activates this function. Hair-Trigger response is especially good for competitive FPS games. Each trigger button also has vibration so you can get that recoil feeling every time you fire, or rev your engine etc.
Being a Pro Controller, the Wolverine has two extra shoulder buttons and two rear triggers on the back. These can be remapped via the Synapse for Xbox app to suit different gameplay styles. One complaint I have with the rear triggers is that they are too easy to hit. After continuously activating and cancelling stuff on the Xbox dashboard due to accidental presses, I deactivated them.
Those RGB Chroma lights!
A gaming accessory in 2018 wouldn’t be complete without RGB lighting of some sort. Razer has long been a key initiator of this trend. Most Razer peripherals are lit up like Christmas trees. The Wolverine is no exception.
Razer Chroma is an RGB strip on the top front of the controller and I love it. It looks very cool while being elegant and understated compared to so many other RGB setups.
Controlled via the Synapse app, it has different modes including a single static colour to a cyclic wave of 16.8 million colours. You can also set it to react to button presses or in-game vibrations like gunfire.
Back to wires, is this the 90’s?
The Wolverine family all come standard with a custom Micro USB cable. No wireless here.
Razer use wired controllers because they have zero latency meaning much faster response times compared to wireless controllers. This edge in games makes a big difference where a millisecond is all that stands between you and a chicken dinner.
The downside is, you are tethered to your Xbox. Even at 10 feet, the cable was a wee bit short for my personal setup. I also have a two-year-old who loves tugging at anything and everything so having extra wires lying around is not ideal.The additional cable management is an extra hassle. It’s definitely something to consider when buying this controller.
The upside is never worrying about batteries or charging — especially with that Chroma lighting. When considering the Wolverine Tournament Edition you’ll need to think about your home setup and whether or not wires will work or be a deal-breaker.
Customisations and Synapse
The allure of pro controllers is customisation. The Wolverine TE doesn’t have physical customisation options compared to its big brother, the Wolverine Ultimate but you manage most of it via the Synapse app.
You can assign any of the standard functions to the extra rear and shoulder buttons to fit your play style. I chose to map the odd thumbstick press to my extra shoulder buttons.
While the thumbsticks can’t be swapped out, you can at least change their sensitivity — making them faster or slower. This is called Focus and it’s perfect for those who have a hard time lining up headshots in FPS’s.
The Chroma lighting can be configured into 6 unique modes. Breathing, Immersive, Reactive, Spectrum, Static and Wave. I enjoy leaving it to cycle through the 16.8 million colour spectrum. You can also turn it off completely if RGB isn’t your cup of tea.
Trigger and haptic vibration can also be managed here. With all these nuanced customisations, you would hate to have to lose your custom settings. Synapse allows multiple profiles so you can save different configurations. You can have a profile for FPS games, another for RPGs and another for platformers.
But how well does it play games?
Overall, the customisations are handy and do make gameplay that little bit better. I played a gamut of games including first-person shooters, racers and platformers. Although it wasn’t a drastic improvement, I did appreciate the little changes I could make.
Remapping the thumbstick press to the extra shoulder buttons was the most welcome improvement for me. Pressing any of the thumbsticks usually activates running or locking on targets in most games. This always felt unnatural, like I could break the thumbstick at any moment. That’s not a problem anymore thanks to the Wolverine.
Speaking of the thumbsticks, I found the right thumbstick to be more uncomfortable than the standard Xbox controller. I would have loved to be able to swap it out for a convex shaped thumb grip.
I love the clicky ABXY buttons even though it sometimes feels like I need to exert more pressure to trigger them. I’ve mostly turned off the frustrating rear triggers because of too many accidental hits. Adjusting the vibration level has been great to have as I don’t my controller feeling like a jackhammer.
Should you buy it then?
The energy drink V has a campaign that best sums it up; “The massive hit that improves you a bit”.
The Wolverine TE improves on the standard Xbox controller; a bit. While the Razer Raiju for PS4 was an immediate and marked improvement over the DualShock 4 controller, it’s not so with the Wolverine TE. It’s a testament to Microsoft that it’s standard Xbox controller is that good.
I’ve enjoyed my time with the TE but I’m left wondering who exactly this controller is aiming at. Razer says it’s for esports athletes but its price to value is mismatched. With a retail price of $180 AUD in Australia, the Wolverine TE is $100 more than the slightly less capable standard Xbox controller and only $20 cheaper than the acclaimed Microsoft Elite Controller.
The few customisations and Chroma aren’t compelling enough at that price point. For gamers who want the absolute best Pro controller for Xbox, spend the extra $50 and get the Wolverine Ultimate. That will give you far more tangible customisations to really improve your game.
And if you don’t want wires or RGB lighting but still want similar customisations, get the Microsoft Elite.
The Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition was provided to PowerUp! by Razer for review.