Premium hardware for a premium price.
I have to admit that the first time that I saw the Elite Xbox One controller, I had the same reaction I had to the other premium controllers and modded controllers on the market. I thought to myself “What’s the point? Why should I pay more than $50-$60 for a controller?”
With the Elite Xbox One controller, I can see why someone might, and this will likely be the only premium controller I end up getting. Of course, it does help that my wife conspired with my mother to get it for me for my birthday earlier this week. They sure know how to pick out gifts!
So I’ve converted to the Elite, and I don’t think I’ll be looking back. Here’s why:
Quality, For A Price
What Microsoft did with this controller, they did extremely well. It has a hefty feel to it; a weight and build quality that I’m not going to break it with general use. Admittedly, I’m not rough on controllers anyway. I’ve only had to replace one controller in my life, and two cords for the original Xbox, all broken through no fault of my own.
The original Xbox controllers had their cords stepped on by people being careless, breaking off the connectors from the cord into the Xbox itself, thankfully not damaging the system at all. Luckily since Microsoft designed that system’s controllers to have break-away cords (in case someone tripped over them), I only had to replace a small piece instead of the entire controller. The other damaged controller was for my old 360, and its problem lay in the bumper buttons getting worn out by an overzealous friend, instilling in me a permanent fear that those controls would break on my other controllers and killing my desire to play games like Dark Souls on the Xbox entirely. But I digress.
The Elite controller gives me peace of mind. First of all, nobody except a trusted few and myself are ever going to use it, or I’ll start cutting their hands off with my KABAR.
The controller is designed to allow players to remap controls using the Xbox Accessories app on the Xbox One, thereby limiting the wear-and-tear on the controls. As of this moment, I have two separate control schemes set up and plans for more later. One control scheme is for Forza Motorsport 6 and Forza Horizon 3, which remaps the manual shifting controls from the face buttons to the paddles on the underside (like a Ferrari’s flappy-paddle gearbox). The other is for Watch_Dogs 2 at the moment, which has the thumbstick buttons and bumper buttons remapped to the underside paddles.
This helps put my mind at ease, ensuring that I don’t have to worry about wearing things out too quickly.
The sturdy feel of the controller also helps alleviate my concerns over prematurely destroying my controller. Like I said earlier, it has heft to it. The Elite controller is noticeably heavier than the standard controller, sporting metal parts and rubberized grips. Holding it feels like gripping a sports car’s steering wheel.
Of course this all comes with the $150 caveat. The Elite controller is expensive, and even though the price seems worth it to me now, I couldn’t see myself buying it. At least not at this point in time.
Ease Of Use
What sets the Xbox One Elite Controller aside from its counterparts is that changes to the controls are handled by software instead of changes to the hardware. You don’t need to keep track of numerous switches on the controller, hardware to change out the pieces, or even need to unscrew a locking piece from the analog stick housing to change them out.
I’ll tell you what, just watch:
Every piece is held in place magnetically, meaning you can change them out in seconds. Additionally, you can toggle the trigger pull length to a hair-trigger with the flip of a switch, meaning that the triggers handle more like digital input and giving you quicker controls in shooters.
This is all without even diving into the deep customization options of the Xbox Accessories App.
Besides the obvious annoyance of the controller (understandably) costing a considerable amount of money, there are a few issues that I’ve run into while playing with the Elite controller, though they may be anecdotal to be honest.
First, the paddles on the underside of the controller are very responsive, though they can sometimes be too responsive. You see, I tend to set my controller down on my leg when I’m watching a cutscene, using my phone, or looking something up on my tablet. Unfortunately, doing so with the paddles on the backside of the controller usually results in activating those controls.
Second, those same paddles are held in place with magnets, much like the sticks and D-pad. However, unlike the sticks and D-pad, I’ve found myself accidentally getting my fingers underneath the paddles and lifting them away from the body of the controller. I’ve yet to have them come off entirely, though I imagine that the more I get used to them being there, both my first and second issue will resolve themselves.
Lastly, and perhaps the most dire complaint, is that the Xbox Accessories App can be pretty obtuse to use, though that is more of a mark against the app itself than the controller.
Is It Worth It? That Depends
The Elite Xbox One Controller is the best console gamepad that I’ve ever had the pleasure of using; that much is for sure. It’s of premium quality, giving a plethora of customization options, and giving you more control over how you play.
Perhaps one of the coolest things I can tell you about is the fact that the Xbox Accessories App is available to use for even standard controllers, though with less options available (obviously you can’t map buttons to paddles that don’t exist). With the Elite controller though, you can store up to 256 different profiles for your custom control schemes, save those schemes to the cloud, adjust the vibration levels, as well as changes the sensitivity of the analog sticks and triggers.
My recommendation for the Elite Xbox One Elite Controller comes with a few conditions:
This is an expensive luxury item; more so than a gaming console and honestly rather unnecessary as well. It will not magically make you better at Halo or Call of Duty, but it can give you an edge in the same way as a custom controller.
It’s a minimalist design, eschewing flashy looks for quality, but I prefer this approach over the tacky looks of custom controllers. If you want something that’s more colorful, check out SCUF or The Controller Shop. Again, I think those designs look awful, but that’s a matter of opinion.
Last, the Elite controller takes some getting used to. You won’t get immediate improvements from using it, and figuring out how you can best use the controller will take some doing.
This is still the best damn controller I’ve ever used and knowing what I know now, I feel like I should’ve bought one when they first came out. The functionality and quality vastly outweighs the cost in my opinion.
Plus it should give me an edge over my wife in Halo. I might finally be able to beat her…
If you’re reading this Jennifer, you just bought me the tool of your own destruction!
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