Early adopters expect that their new console is going to have a few issues. Finding quality games among the crop of early release is always a problem. Adapting to new software and ways of doing things is always a problem too. Microsoft’s Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller is the answer to an unexpected problem that surfaced at the launch. Microsoft packed a ton of upgrades into its Xbox One Wireless Controller, rebuilding its mechanisms, introducing programmable motors and making it ridiculously light.
But there were problems. Though light, the surface of the Xbox One Wireless Controller feels pretty crummy after you’ve held it in your hand for a while. It’s reinforced joystick surfaces are pretty great for some gamers, but other gamers prefer something that bulges out from the joystick instead of accepts their finger. Some say that it’s not great for fighting games and brawlers.
At E3 2015 I got the opportunity to test out the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller for myself. In short, it’s the controller we all wish Microsoft included in a more expensive Xbox One bundle.
Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller Impressions – Outer Utility
The Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller fixes a few of these problems. Better still, it makes it easy to reconfigure the controller’s surfaces to your specifications.
The first thing you notice about the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller is its textured grips. Forget the plastic that you sweat on, the elongated arms are grippable in a way the current Xbox One Wireless Controller just isn’t. The lightly gray colored handles feel extremely comfortable, though I didn’t get to hold it long enough to see how it handles hand sweat and heating.
Magnets are big with the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller. Microsoft uses them to make the controller infinitely more customizable than its predecessor. Imagine hating the D-Pad surface because it doesn’t provide you with the accuracy you need for your favorite game. The D-Pad’s surface simply pops-off. A concave bowl like surface makes it easier for the controller to respond to your thumb’s every whim. Both versions of the thumb stick felt great underneath my thumbs.
Removable paddles complete the new button experience. They jut out from the back of the controller and feel ever-so-soft. Microsoft says using these paddles can save professional gamers a lot of time and that seems to be the case. There are hair-trigger too for better management of things like automatic weapons fire in first-person shooters.
Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller Impressions – Inner Beauty
Durability and removable buttons are definitely a good reason to buy the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller on their own. Infinite re-mapping and programming is what sends it over the top. Today, the Xbox One Wireless Controller can’t be reconfigured for different games. The control scheme it shipped with three years ago is the control scheme you’re stuck with unless your individual games have different controller profiles.
The Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller can be reconfigured with a companion app on the fly, giving serious gamers the flexibility they need without jumping through hoops. Microsoft says there’ll be apps for Xbox One and Windows 10 when the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller finally arrives on store shelves later this year. It’d be easy for the company to require users to whip out that application whenever they want to switch profiles, but Microsoft didn’t do that. Instead, the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller has a center-mounted switch that lets players change controller schemes on the fly. There’s no clunky menu diving and no pulling out your phone for a second-screen experience. Unfortunately, the switch only works for two controller schemes; I’d have loved to see a third.
I liked the interchangeable magnetic surfaces. I never felt like the joystick topper or directional pad add-ons might fall out in a firefight. If anything, I had to pry them off a bit. I’ll say this, adding customization to a controller that’s already been available in some for could have been a disaster. The controller could still feel cheap or your fingers could find it too foreign. None of that happens with the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller.
Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller Impressions – You’ll Love It
As its name implies, Microsoft built the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller with serious gamers in mind. The texture, switchable magnetic surfaces and option to remap the buttons are much appreciated. The back-mounted paddles feel incredible in the hand; and Microsoft says even those can be programmed for use on Windows 10 PCs without too much effort. These are things heavy users of the console lust after. They’re also things that casual gamers probably won’t appreciate.
I’m not a casual gamer and chances are you aren’t either. If that’s the case than the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller should be on your must-buy list in the fall when it launches for $150. Again, that’s how you know it’s only meant for serious gaming fans. That’s nearly double the price of a single game. I’m ok paying that if I’m getting a speed advantage and better quality materials and I think serious gaming fans will appreciate it too. Being able to use one controller for a great experience on fighting games, shooters and more is pretty impressive.
Microsoft’s website already has the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller available for pre-order.