Rotor Riot (Gamepad) Review

Ned Jordan
In Short
Looking to up your mobile game?
Rotor Riot

Rotor Riot is a gaming controller for phones that comes in both Android and iOS models. I tested the iOS version connected to an iPhone 13 Pro Max.

The controller has an attachable arm to hold the phone and it’s easy to put the phone in place – two built-in tabs easily extend the grip, you slip your phone into place, and then lower the spring-loaded holder back into place. The holder can accommodate different phone sizes without any trouble, and easily held a Pro Max in place. Although the design is good, the materials are not. The arm is made of relatively thin plastic so there’s a lot of flex and the phone will wobble back and forth while you’re using the controller. It really needs to be made out of a thicker, harder plastic or metal to keep the phone from moving out of synch with the controller.

The controller doesn’t use Bluetooth to connect to your phone, the connection is accomplished physically with a lightning cable that is attached to the rear of the top of the controller, right behind where the arm holding the phone sits. Once your phone is in place you plug the cable into your phone to enable the controller. The cable includes a Velcro tie which is nice because at over two feet in length it’s significantly longer than it needs to be to reach from the controller to your phone. All of that extra wire is in place in case you want to use the controller with an iPad. You can place your iPad on a flat surface or prop it up, plug the cable in, and still use the controller from a comfortable distance. There is also a lightning port on the base of the controller that allows it to charge your device while you are playing. I hooked the controller up to an iPad and there was enough passthrough current coming through the controller to charge the tablet.

The controller’s overall size and weight are virtually the same as an Xbox controller. The controller itself mimics the button, trigger, and stick layout of an Xbox controller, even including a home button that sits between two menu buttons. The buttons and sticks all have less resistance than a console controller, though, with the triggers and d-pad feeling particularly “click-y”. The shoulder triggers feel especially so, and using them feels more like clicking the buttons on a cheap mouse than on a console controller.

The controller works with the Ludu Mapp app that you can download to your device for free. The app is basically a game launching hub that lets you know what games are compatible with the controller, but it does have some additional functionality such as the ability to update the controller’s firmware. Once you have the app installed, each time you plug your controller into your device you’ll be prompted to launch the app – at least on iOS devices.

The game I chose to put the controller through its paces was Call of Duty Mobile, because shooters make excellent stress tests for controllers. COD Mobile is not the only big-name game you’ll find listed in Ludu Mapp, though. Genshin Impact, NBA 2K22, Madden NFL, Alien: Isolation, and Final Fantasy VII The First Soldier are among the other supported titles.

The Rotor Riot gave me full control in COD Mobile matches, eliminating the need to tap any of the onscreen icons that make up the game’s interface. Using the thumbsticks for look and movement control worked well and felt more natural to me than using on-screen virtual pads. You won’t get console-like response, you’re still playing a mobile game after all, but I found that the controller increased response and precision just enough to give me an advantage. It was also much easier to use the triggers to fire, and to not have to obscure the screen to reach for the icons for grenades and scorestreak bonuses. It was more than a matter of feeling that the controller was improving my play, my results improved as well - I consistently won matches while also taking the team MVP award. Before using the controller my K/D ratio in COD Mobile was consistently north of even, but in matches using the controller I averaged about 10 to 1, and in one match managed 31 to 1. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this controller will make anyone good at the game, but in my experience it sure took my game to the next level.

The controller didn’t necessarily help me reach the next level in every game I tried, though. The controller worked fine with games like Madden NFL 22, but I can’t say that I gained much of an advantage from using the controller, certainly not anything like I saw with COD Mobile.

I also tried the controller with Xbox Cloud Gaming. You don’t need to go through the Ludu Mapp app for XCG – if you’ve already jumped through the hoops of logging into your Xbox account, creating a home screen link, etc. The controller worked well enough with the few games I tried. Again, the Rotor Riot didn’t feel as solid or responsive as a console controller, but it did well enough considering that I was streaming console games on a phone in the first place.

Overall, the Rotor Riot did help improve gameplay on a phone. I wish it were a little more solid, especially the arm that holds the phone, and that the switches were better quality. However, you can get find the Rotor Riot for under $50, so for less than the cost of a new AAA console game you can up your mobile game.

Final Rating: starstarstarhalf starno star

Transmitted: 5/31/2023 9:12:37 PM