In the world of competitive gaming, e-Sports players use every tool at their disposal to gain an edge. For years, custom controllers have been a staple in the console gaming world. A little over two years ago, Microsoft unveiled their Xbox One Elite controller which has long dominated as the premium option for Xbox and PC players. Now Razer is out with their own take on the ultra-premium gamepad with the Razer Wolverine Ultimate. It features remappable mechanical buttons, swappable sticks, extra bumpers and triggers, and so much more. It gives the Elite a run for its money, but is it worth $159.99?
- MSRP: $159.99
- Wired/Wireless: Wired
- Compatibility: Xbox One/PC
- Cable: Detachable, braided Micro-USB; 10 ft
- Dimensions: 4.17 in (L) x 6.14 in (W) x 2.6 in (H)
- Weight (without cable): 260g
- Illumination: Multi-Color Razer Chroma Lighting Strip
- 2 shoulder Hyperesponse Multi-Function Bumpers
- 4 Multi-Function Triggers
- 4 Tactile Switch ABXY action buttons
- 4 button Quick Control Panel
- Audio: 3.5 mm audio port for stereo audio output and microphone input
- Additional Features: Quick-release cable, optional trigger stops for rapid-fire, zero slow-turn concave analog joysticks
- Accessories: Swappable joysticks (magnetic), swappable D-pad (magnetic), carrying case
To start, I should give you a little background on my history with aftermarket controllers. Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of them and have never been satisfied. The story is always the same: I go into the sale looking to save a few dollars and wind up wishing I’d just bought the real thing. Sometimes, it’s a small issue like face buttons feeling slightly off. Other times it’s just a shoddy build that creaks when you give it a squeeze. Most times it’s trigger buttons with creaky springs of resistance that just feels off. Over the years, I’ve learned to pay more in the short term for happiness in the long term.
With that out there, you should believe me when I say that the Wolverine is an excellent controller. Everything feels premium, from the well-balanced and just-heavy-enough weight in the hand, to the pull of the triggers, and the texturing on the grips that makes it a pleasure to hold. It’s packed with extra features, like on the fly reprogramming and interchangeable joysticks (and D-pad!). It also includes its own take on the stereo headset adapter, which is usually another $25. And it’s Chroma enabled, which looks pretty neat!
So what is the Wolverine Ultimate and what sets it apart? Like the Xbox One Elite controller, the Wolverine is an ultra-premium gamepad. It features all of the standard features of an Xbox One controller, including trigger rumble and PC compatibility. Like the Elite, it includes four additional paddles along the back that you can reprogram. Want crouch off a face button so you don’t have to change your grip or to not use ABXY at all? You can do that, and the same with any other key, with software or without (you’ll still want to download it, though). Both controllers also feature trigger locks which cut their travel for rapid firing.
Also like the Elite, you can swap out the joysticks and D-pad to suit your taste. By default, the Razer ships with standard height concave sticks and a separated cardinal button D-pad with nice clicky buttons installed. In the box, are an extra tall concave stick and a standard height one with a convex head. These attach by magnet and are easy to swap out, but because of how they fit on don’t ever come loose in gameplay. The alternate D-pad is a single-piece that also attaches via magnet.
A few things immediately set the Wolverine apart. First, along the top are two additional bumpers. Razer smartly pre-programs these to X and Y and two of the triggers on the back to A and B. On the bottom of the unit is a control panel that’s visually similar to Microsoft’s stereo headset adapter but offers vastly expanded functionality. Here, you can remap buttons on the fly, change profiles, adjust your volume, mic mute - the works. There’s also an RGB strip around the Xbox cutout that can be customized with 9 different presets in the Xbox App.
The other thing you’re likely to notice is that the face buttons no longer have the mushiness of console controller. ABXY all click with mechanical switches, not unlike a mouse button. It’s a bit strange at first but anything that kills the “mush” is fine by me, especially when they feel fine like they do here.
Programming it is easy: hold the re-program button, hold the button you want programmed, and press what you programmed to it. The controller vibrates to let you know you’re done. Easy.
The software is available in the Xbox Store and makes remapping even easier. It’s definitely worth picking up. I’m a big fan of the stock settings, though. By default, all of the face buttons are mapped as I mentioned before, but the bottom-most triggers are set to increase and decrease sensitivity. In shooters, this is a killer feature that can function just like a sniper button on a gaming mouse.
There are a couple of sticking points I expect the community to have. First, this is a wired controller. When console gamepads are mostly wireless these days, being tethered does feel slightly off. On the flipside of that, it’s long enough where it doesn’t get in the way, ensures that you’ll never have battery die or signal interference, and will no longer have to worry about recharging every night. And, honestly, if you’re using it with PC, you’re connecting wired either way; even the Elite doesn’t support PC wireless.
The other point of contention is sure to be the price. Coming in at $159.99, the Wolverine Ultimate isn’t a cheap controller. In fact, it retails for $10 more than the MSRP of the Xbox One Elite. This, I feel, is less of an issue. Given that the Wolverine includes the headset adapter which would increase the buy-in on the Elite to $175, those value propositions start to even out. For the cost, though, I would have liked to have seen more than two joystick options or at least a pair of each type. The Elite also packs in swappable rear paddles, which the Wolverine lacks.
The big caveat comes for PC only players. Right now, Synapse does not support the Wolverine. Odd, I know, for such a PC-centric company. You can sign up for updates from Razer when the software rolls out but there is no firm date on when that may be. What that means, however, is that PC players will have the single lighting preset and remapping buttons using the control pad. Functionally, it still performs without a hitch and is completely plug and play.
After so many poor experiences with aftermarket controllers, it is absolutely refreshing to see one so great coming from Razer. The Wolverine oozes quality and it’s plain to see. The additional bumpers, included control pad, and RGB lighting all add value over the Elite. At the same time, it would be nice be free of that wire and have the joystick options come in pairs. Still, for what’s there, this is an excellent controller that any pro, and especially the average gamer, should be satisfied with.
- Extremely well built, feels great to use
- Extra shoulder buttons
- Love the trigger stops
- Included audio pad and nice case
- Fewer modular parts than Elite
- No PC software yet
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.