Gaming is an amazing way to pass the time; it’s an escape to another place whether it’s becoming an international sporting superstar, strategising your way to victory in an epic battle or becoming the hero in a first-person shooter. It’s this escape, tactics and skills that have all contributed to E-Sports being a multi-billion dollar industry for the game developers and the top players in the world. It’s the latter where manufacturers like Razer come into the frame with peripherals like the Wolverine V2.
What is it?
The simple story is it’s a take on the Xbox gamepad with a very slick, Razer “look” about it. For those of you looking to level up on either Xbox or PC, there are a few little bonuses worth taking a look at; starting with the inclusion of the USB-PC converter cable to get you gaming on your PC.
The reality for most users is the layout of the buttons and analogue sticks are going to be very familiar. But there are a couple of extra buttons on the rear of the device next to L1 and R1 that can be mapped as you wish in a lot of games. Now, this doesn’t change the shape of gameplay, but it removes a little barrier requiring button combinations.
Design and feel
A lot of generational evolution has gone into game controllers, coming from the old NES era, through the Sega Megadrive and the consoles. The truth to the matter is, a lot of ergonomics and engineering have been included too so there’s only so much you can do with a gamepad that users are going to be comfortable with. Razer has stayed true to the expected design but with a little bit of polish to it and minor button layout tweaks.
Initially, the controller feels familiar but significantly different to the Xbox setup. The Wolverine is a slightly shorter, stouter design which results in less “reaching” for your hands and particularly for physically smaller players, far less strain and muscle fatigue. A slight side note from this, it is slightly heavier than a standard controller but you’ll quickly forget that with other features.
Another simple but very welcome addition to the Wolverine V2 is that the handholds are made from a rubberised material that is very comfortable to hold, but when you’ve been gaming a little while becomes a little tacky making it very easy to continue holding.
As many have come to expect with console controllers (probably initiated by parents sick of the noise) is the plug located in the base of the controller for headphones. While I don’t personally use this, I’d rather use my speakers or USB headset, I can certainly see the allure of such a feature.
The gameplay experience
If you’ve played a lot of games, whether it’s PC or console, you’ll know that changing your peripherals (gamepad, keyboard, mouse or other niche hardware) can be a challenge. While the layout of the Wolverine V2 is near identical to the first generation Xbox controller I’ve used for my sports games for years, there was a minor physical difference that made a huge difference to games: The throw (distance from 0% to 100%) on the RT and LT buttons.
For me, this meant that when I’m playing racing sims that I reached 100% throttle sooner. This was significant enough of a difference that I spent quite a bit of time spinning off, crashing into walls and (because the same difference occurred with braking) I locked up brakes and slid off the track quite a bit.
This is more a case of recognising the muscle memory involved in many areas of gameplay, not a fault of the Wolverine hardware.
Once that initial period of adjustment was over, I found that the benefits far outweighed the inconvenience of changing controller. The slightly more stout shape of the Wolverine vs the Xbox controller made it more comfortable to hold for long periods. With the more relaxed hold, I also found that there was little hand or wrist fatigue involved and because the buttons have a more distinct click to them I wasn’t pressing them as hard. This all results in a more enjoyable game experience.
Now, I enjoy gaming but I don’t have an Xbox… Luckily I have friends who do so I took one for the team and spent some time gaming with them. The compatibility of the Wolverine V2 goes across both Xbox and PC. At home, I tried it out with a number of titles including F1 2020, NBA 2K20 and a couple of old-school arcade classics with zero issues of compatibility.
The TL:DR version of this is that the Wolverine V2 is a huge step up from the standard Xbox controller but it’s also a jump in cost at $169.00 vs $99.00 but there’s a lot more to it.
The upgrade offers some surprising benefits including better comfort, a touch more weight (making it feel more durable) and after the adjustment period; a more responsive feel with very “clicky” buttons. All in all, this results in an excellent hands-on gaming experience.
Gamers are a fickle bunch and despite the reputation a company may have, a bad experience will not go over well. Razer continues to be one of the top names in gaming peripherals and in total honesty, the Wolverine V2 is only going to solidify this position. It’s not the cheapest gamepad on the market which may — probably will — deter some buyers, but it hits all the marks you’d expect, presents a good investment for your gaming and lets gamers play for even longer.
Razer have not requested the hardware to be returned following completion of the review.