Turtle Beach React-R Wired Xbox Controller Review

If you’re really serious about your gaming, you should probably have a wired controller. For one thing you won’t be running the risk of your batteries running out in the middle of a close multiplayer match or big MMO Raid attempt, but there’s also the advantages of reduced latency for your inputs. Having a wired controller like the Turtle Beach React-R for Xbox and PC also offers up a batch of accoutrements that your regular gamepads doesn’t have.

The Turtle Beach React-R is light. Not light enough to worry about the strength of the textured white plastic used in its construction, but light enough to make using it easy and fatigue-free. In the case of our review unit, the majority of the inputs were a pleasant pastel shade of purple, though a darker-themed unit is available too. The choice of visual design is akin to Turtle Beach offering a glowering Batman controller and a maniacally happy Joker one. Given the amount of plastic used here, it’s probably Lego Batman instead of a grimdark live action version.

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Turtle Beach definitely know what they’re doing though, and as you can see in their Recon range of headsets their peripherals are cost-effective, strong and light. The React-R has stood up to a hard couple of months of both multiplayer and single player, from an array of age groups in my household, and there’s no sign that it’s going to stop giving a precise and accurate experience any time soon.

Both the analogue sticks have just the right amount of tension, and they performed well across a range of genres, from Forza Horizon 5 through to Overwatch 2. The D-pad isn’t as good though, feeling hard and plasticky under your thumb and raised a touch too high beyond the body of the controller. The main face buttons are similarly plasticky, and lack the jewel-like quality of the official Xbox controller, but they’re responsive and do the job in a robust and dependable manner.

The triggers don’t offer any design surprises with yet more lightweight purple plastic. They’re textured in an attempt to stop any sweat-based slippage, and overall that seems to do the job, but they can be quite noisy if you’re playing something that requires repeated use of them. The resistance of the springs is reassuring though, and there’s enough nuance here for the more demanding racer. In overall quality, they lag, perhaps unsurprisingly, behind those on the official Xbox controller.

Taking a leaf out of the pro controller playbook, you’ve also got two additional action buttons positioned on the hand grips. These sit beneath the middle finger on each hand, and you can map them to perform any of the same functions as the other buttons. It’s pretty easy to set this up too, with a double tap of the D-Pad Shift button (the middle of the the trio of special buttons added to the top of the controller), followed by the action button you want to program, and then the face button you want to copy from. They’re perfect for reload or jump actions so you don’t have to take a thumb off an analogue stick, although they offer the same loud clicking feedback as the other buttons do.

Drawing on the Recon line’s legacy of headset design, the React-R controller offers a batch of audio-specific additions that can help you get the best out of your game’s audio. There’s three designated buttons at the top of the controller, giving you instant access to microphone muting, volume and chat mix controls via the D-Pad, as well as Turtle Beach’s patented Superhuman Hearing setting. I’m not completely sold on adding functions to the D-Pad like this, but it is a clever way to add more functionality for occasional features like this without having to cover the controller in a host of buttons.

Superhuman Hearing attempts to adjust the audio mix from your console or PC so it draws out details like footsteps, reloading and gunfire, giving you a leg up on the competition when you’re playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 or a similarly competitive shooter. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of these sorts of settings as they often ruin a game’s audio design. On the other hand, it does make footsteps and other audio details stand out, and if your life is PUBG – other battle royales do exist – then it can help give you an extra edge beyond your reflexes.

At £35 the React-R offers a great value option – you might even be able to find it for £25 already, and Black Friday’s just around the corner – and that’s one of its key selling points. It’s also been more reliable for us than a similarly priced PowerA wired controller that we’ve covered recently, which has now developed stick drift after four months. Then again, Turtle Beach does have a dedicated support page for recalibrating if the React-R does develop stick drift of its own.

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Summary
The Turtle Beach React-R is a robust and reliable budget option from one of the most long-standing peripheral makers on the planet.
Good
  • Solid and reliable design
  • Back buttons and audio controls go beyond budget expectations
  • Superhuman hearing can enhance your competitive play
Bad
  • More plasticky feel gives it backup controller vibes
  • Noisy triggers
8
Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.