For some reason though Microsoft took it into their heads to significantly alter it for the Xbox One, redesigning and adding features that were neither asked for or necessary. It’s still a good joypad but arguably worse then its predecessor and now only slightly ahead of the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4. The Elite Controller though is head and shoulders above both. The importance of a good controller is often sadly overlooked, by both games companies and gamers alike. Many a console has been compromised by having a poor quality controller and the entire smartphone market is looked down upon by most core gamers simply because the controls are so poorly suited to action games. But in almost all cases a console’s default official controller is the best, with the exceptions being specialist controllers for specific genres such as beat ’em-ups or racing games. A deluxe model joypad though is almost unheard of for consoles, and the biggest question hanging over the Elite Controller is who exactly is going to buy it. Given the £119.99 price tag Microsoft presumably made it with hardcore and professional gamers in mind, but as long as you have the money it offers a useful advantage for everybody.
In terms of basic form factor the Elite Controller is exactly the same as the standard Xbox One controller. It’s considerably heavier (in a satisfyingly expensive-feeling way) and instead of cheap, cold plastic the body is made of a nice warm matte rubber finish, with diamond-pattern grips. But the device itself, including the triggers and bumpers, are exactly the same shape across both controllers. Surprisingly, the face buttons are also the same, although they’re no longer coloured and their names are barely visible – no doubt because Microsoft assumes that anybody spending £120 on a new controller knows where the ‘A’ button is. The most obvious visual difference though is the D-pad, which is now a large circular device with the eight compass points bevelled into it. But don’t worry if you don’t like the sound of that, because you can just take it off and replace it with a more traditional D-pad if you prefer. The two key selling points with the Elite Controller are its precision and its customisability.
As such, the other most obvious visual difference is that on the back it has four metal paddles. But these two are completely removable if you don’t intend to use them, since each is held in place by magnets. They can pop out by mistake when you’re handling the controller, but given how you hold it not when you’re actually using it. The paddles are similar in concept to gear shifts on a high end race car, but they’re not just intended for driving games. What they actually do in a game is entirely up to you, as you’re able to customise them to replicate any other button or trigger.
The most important part of any joypad though is the analogue sticks, and the Elite controller has three different options: the standard concave Xbox 360 design, convex DualShock style ones, and extra long arcade-like sticks that almost make the D-pad improvements irrelevant. And while the triggers aren’t metal like the other inputs they do have an optional hair trigger, that you can turn on with one of the green switches at the back of the controller. This means you barely have to touch the trigger and it will register as you pressing it, which is clearly aimed at serious shooter fans. The bumpers don’t have the same option, but they’re much smoother and less ‘clicky’ than the standard controller. Also included in the package is a carrying case for the controller and all its interchangeable parts, as well as a USB cable for connecting and using it with a PC. Surprisingly though the controller isn’t rechargeable – you have to pay another £25 for a battery pack and charging station if you want that. In order to customise what the buttons do there’s an app that allows you to bind any of the buttons or controls to whatever function you want in any game. Which in itself is a huge boon for those frustrated at the lack of customisable controls in games in general. It’s not the most user friendly bit of software we’ve ever used but you can store two set-ups at once, switching between the two with a button on the front of the controller. You can also go much deeper in terms of changing the sensitivity and dead zone of the triggers and analogue sticks. Although surprisingly you can’t set up macros, such as fighting game combos.
The Elite Controller is excellent, and near perfect in design and execution. But while it is clearly better in every way than than any other joypad for the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 we shouldn’t overstate the difference it makes. There might be improvements across the board, but, beyond simply being more comfortable, they’re generally subtle ones that only more experienced gamers will appreciate. Given the price that means you need to think long and hard about whether this is something you actually need. But since the controller is usually your one and only interface with the game you’re playing even a small improvement is extremely important. Whether you’re a pro or an ordinary gamer that welcomes any advantage, the Elite is the Rolls Royce of video game controllers
Some of the main features can be found below:
Improved performance and fit
The Xbox Elite controller adapts to your hand size and play style with configurations that can improve accuracy, speed, and reach with thumbsticks of different shapes and sizes. Swap between a variety of metal thumbsticks and D-pads for personalized control and ergonomics.
The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller has four slots for interchangeable paddles that you can attach or remove without any tools. The paddles give your fingers more control, so you don’t have to take your thumbs off the thumbstick to execute intricate jump, aim, and shoot combinations. With the app*, you can assign a wide range of inputs to each paddle.
Hair trigger locks
With the flip of the Hair Trigger Locks, you can fire faster and save valuable time with each trigger pull. Hair Trigger Locks stop the trigger movement after the shot and get you ready for the next one. Simply flip the switch again to get back to full-range trigger motion, or use the app to further fine-tune your settings.
Limitless customization in the app
Customize your experience even further with an easy-to-use app.* Adjust trigger min/max values, thumbstick sensitivities, button assignments, and more. Create as many controller profiles as you like in the app and instantly change between 2 of them in game with the built-in Profile Switch.
Designed for performance
Every detail is designed to meet the demands of competitive gamers: low-friction, reinforced rings around each thumbstick minimize wear and provide buttery-smooth action while the rubberized diamond grip gives the controller a substantial feel and added stability. The enhanced grip allows you to hold the controller with less effort. The soft-touch finish on the top case provides a luxurious feel.
What’s in the box
- Xbox Elite Wireless Controller
- Carrying case
- Set of 4 paddles
- Set of 6 thumbsticks: standard (2), tall (2), and domed (2)
- Set of 2 D-pads: faceted and standard
- USB cable
- AA batteries