The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller impressed us with its excellent build quality and broad customization options, even if its high asking price remains hard to get past. Now Razer offers its own elite Xbox One/PC gamepad in the form of the Wildcat. It feels good in the hand and is very responsive, and you can customize it much like the Elite controller. However, it's strictly a wired gamepad, and for the same $149.99 price tag you, can get the first-party Elite controller and have the option to cut the cord whenever you want. If the Wildcat cost half as much as the Elite, it would be a viable, premium wired gamepad to consider, but as it stands it simply doesn't justify its price.
DesignThe boldly styled Wildcat looks and feels like an overbuilt Xbox One controller. Its layout and the general build quality of its matte black plastic body are nearly identical to the Xbox One gamepad, with all of the standard controls feeling indistinguishable from the stock controller's buttons and sticks. The direction pad is a four-segment cluster closer to that of a DualShock 4, but otherwise everything else feels the same. A pair of sliding trigger lock switches sit under the top set of alternate triggers. They limit the pull distance of the standard triggers, just like the trigger locks on the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller.
Razer added some extras in addition to the standard controls. A built-in wired headset adapter sticks out of the bottom of the gamepad between the hand grips, and is laid out exactly like a standard Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter. This is a nice touch, and one the Elite controller lacks.
Two additional pairs of triggers sit on the underside of the Wildcat, similar in purpose to the removable paddles on the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller. They're smooth, glossy black plastic rather than metal, and feel more natural to reach with your fingers. One pair sits between the grips, comfortably resting under your middle fingers while your index fingers hold the standard triggers. The other, more bumper-like pair, sits between the standard triggers and can be accessed by stretching your index fingers slightly further around the gamepad.
You can remove the multifunction triggers on the underside of the Wildcat with the included screwdriver, if you wish. Once they're out, a pair of small covers flip down over the mounting holes and lock in place. If you want to put the triggers back, two small switches next to the covers release them. You can't remove the multifunction bumpers higher on the gamepad.
Wired ControlUnlike both the Xbox Wireless Controller and the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, the Wildcat is completely wired. A recessed micro USB port on the top of the controller lets you connect to your Xbox One or PC with the included six-foot cable.
The cable is cloth-wrapped, and has a quick-release connector a few inches down from the USB plug. The connector pulls apart easily, ensuring that you won't bring your whole game system down if you accidentally trip on the cable. In addition to the cable, Razer includes a handful of other accessories. The most useful is a zip-up, hard shell nylon case that holds the gamepad in a foam cutout and the cable and other accessories in a padded pouch. You can optionally install the included green silicone analog stick caps for better traction on the sticks, and a pair of padded green foam grips for a more secure hold on the controller itself. The stick caps are easy to put on and feel very comfortable, but it's difficult to place the flat, machine-cut grips around the sides of the gamepad without any unsightly creases or uneven coverage. The grips themselves feel nice, but it would have been preferable to see the material shipped on the gamepad rather than deal with the awkward self-installation process.
Customization and ConclusionsBecause it isn't the Elite Wireless Controller, the Wildcat doesn't register as one in the Xbox Accessories app for the Xbox One or Windows 10. You can still remap all of the normal buttons with the Xbox Accessories app, but the optional, multi-function triggers and bumpers require physical configuration using the gamepad itself. One of the buttons on the headset adapter section lets you remap the triggers and bumpers through the fairly simple process of holding the trigger/bumper and pressing the button to which you want it to be mapped. After that, it will act like that button. You can have two trigger/bumper profiles on the Wildcat at a time, switchable with the Profile button next to the Remap button.
The customization process feels piecemeal compared with the that of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, which lets you configure all of your options together in one place. Additionally, while you can map the regular controls with the Xbox Accessories app and switch the analog sticks and their axes, the Wildcat doesn't have the more granular customization options you get with the Elite. The deep sensitivity adjustments for the analog sticks and triggers that make the Elite feel truly customizable aren't found on the Wildcat. This might be an intentional choice by Razer to ensure that the controller is compliant with requirements for tournament gameplay, but for most users it's more like a handful of missing features.
That said, the Wildcat feels very responsive, as is to be expected with a high-end, wired gamepad. Razer promotes the Wildcat as a gamepad for eSports—serious gear akin to arcade fight sticks for gamers who actively compete. Serious competitors might favor the wired-only design for the milliseconds of lag the connection might shave off, but most gamers won't notice a difference in responsiveness between the Wildcat and the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller.
The Razer Wildcat is a good-feeling gamepad that works smoothly with both the Xbox One and Windows 10 systems, and it offers many of the same additional controls and customization options as the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller. However, it also costs the same $150, with no wireless option (the Elite controller can work as a wired controller with the included USB cable), and applying the included grips can result in an uneven and cheapened feel. The Wildcat would be a compelling option at half the price, but as it stands, it just can't compete with Microsoft's own Elite gamepad.