Can $150 make you a better gamer? That’s what we’ll try to answer with our Xbox One Elite Controller review.
The Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller is not a gimmick: it’s a high-end controller with features you will not find on your standard Xbox controller.
The combination of premium craftsmanship, customizable parts, paddle controls and trigger locks deliver the goods you need to be a better player, but you will need to adjust how you play and it isn’t cheap.
Three Xbox One Elite controller features stand out after testing the controller with Madden 16, Just Cause 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.
Trigger locks allow for faster firing in First Person Shooters, three heights for the control sticks offer better control in many games and the paddles simplify shooting and moving in fast paced games.
After using the Xbox One Elite controller for two weeks of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 play there is a clear advantage to using the controller in fast paced games where gamers need to aim, jump, slide and move all at the same time.
I still enjoy the better build quality and the joystick sizes for open world games like Just Cause 3 and sports games like Madden 16, but there is less need for customization than in first person shooters.
The Xbox One Elite controller is a well made controller that competes in the price range of a Scuf controller, with features that competitive gamers will appreciate.
With stainless steel components and interchangeable parts, this feels like a more substantial controller when you pick it up. The rubberized grips make it easier to hold on to for longer gaming sessions.
The catch is that to really up your game, you’ll need to use the paddle controls, located under the controller. This forces you to change your grip, or you will accidentally press buttons. There are four paddles, but you can choose which ones you want to use so that you don’t need all four in place at once. Magnets hold them in place, and there is no tool needed to remove the paddles.
So far I can only play with two paddles installed, otherwise holding the controller is a challenge. I use these to control jumping and sliding in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, which makes me more mobile and allows me to aim better.
In games like this, including the video above, the Xbox One Elite Controller gives me an edge and helps me play better, but this isn’t as simple as buying your way to the number one spot in a game. The controller adds the tools you need to play better, but you need to re-learn controls — some that are ingrained from years of playing first person shooters.
Each trigger includes an independent lock that stops users from pressing the trigger more than halfway. In a first person shooter this prevents any un-needed time pulling the trigger allowing for faster firing with weapons that require multiple trigger pulls. This is one of my favorite features while playing Black Ops 3. When you set the controller down on your lap it is easy to trigger the paddles by accident, but thankfully you can turn the paddles on and off with a double press of the pairing button on the controller.
I’ve used thumbstick extensions on the regular Xbox One controller on previous games to allow for better control of my aim and movement, but under pressure they can slide off. The Xbox One Elite controller includes short, medium and tall sticks. The medium height sticks feature a rounded top, like a PS4 controller.
Switching sticks is simple thanks to magnets. I switch between short and medium on the left stick and medium and tall on the right stick as I look for the best option for each game I play. Even during frantic play the sticks stay in place.
There is also a swappable D-pad that includes a traditional D-Pad and a dish shaped one that lets you roll your thumb around easier. Like the sticks, this stays in place.
Microsoft includes a carrying case for your controller with places to hold all the sticks, paddles and the alternate D-Pad, so you can bring it all with you wherever you go and so that you don’t lose anything.
Gamers can use the Xbox Accessories app on the Xbox One to change the button mapping. If you want the A button to Trigger X, you can do that. You have a lot of control with this part of the controller and this app also lets you set the Paddle controls as well. A small switch on the controller lets users switch between two profiles without opening the app, which makes playing two different games back to back very easy, even if you customize a lot of controls.
You cannot program combos into the Elite Controller. The app allows you to set the same button to multiple buttons on your controller and you can change the sensitivity of the sticks as well as the triggers.
The controller ships with two AA batteries and isn’t compatible with the Xbox One Play & Charge Kit. A third-party rechargeable battery and charging dock is available if you don’t want to swap batteries out. There is also a nice braided USB to Micro USB cord to play while connected to your Xbox One directly.
The headset adapter for the Astro A50 Wireless headphones connects without any issues, even with paddles connected. For other controllers there is a 3.5mm headphone jack built-in. Users can control the rumble features in the Xbox Accessories app.
Is the Xbox One Elite controller worth $150? It all depends on how much you game and how much money you have to spend on gaming. For about the cost of three games you get a premium controller with high customization options and the potential to make you a better gamer if you use all the features.
This is a controller I would buy again for playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and other first person shooters, but the benefits are not nearly as noticeable in open world games or sports games like Madden 16.