Day One Review Xbox Elite Controller
October 28, 2015 - Video Game, Xbox,
The Xbox Elite Controller is significant in every aspect, it is an unapologetic rule breaker. It has a price point of almost half a whole console, it’s detailed and complicated, it’s heavy, and it takes some getting used to. But having spent a day with my new Microsoft controller I’ve come to understand it a little more.
I’m struck by how far Xbox has come in it’s packaging. The unboxing experience is way more fun than it once was. You feel like you have something worth $150 inside the box, it’s also pretty heavy, more on that later. Inside the box you find the controller, all the swappable parts, a braided USB cable, and a high quality zipper up case. Then you notice the two AA batteries, and you think $150 doesn’t get me a rechargeable battery pack. What the hell Microsoft? But you feel much better when you pick up the controller with all the accoutrement ready to go.
The first thing you notice is the weight. As I mentioned the thing is heavy, everyone I handed it to said the same first thing, “its heavy”. So I got out our fairly precise kitchen scale and weighed it. The Elite controller weighs 338 grams (11.90 oz) with a rechargeable battery pack – repurposed from another controller. That is almost 20% heavier than a standard Xbox One video game controller, and 33% heavier than a SCUF 4 Playstation controller.
The second thing you notice is the paddles. I always use a paddle controller but this one is different. At first it’s almost hard to grip the thing without activating a paddle. If you are unfamiliar – each of the four paddles are mapped to a corresponding button, pressing the paddle has the same effect as pressing that button. With software the paddles are all mappable to anything you want including the D pad keys. By default the two large paddles (one left one right) are mapped to X and Y, which is my default set anyhow. It didn’t take long for me to remove the small paddles (the just snap out) and use only the larger ones. I play with X (reload) on the left and Y (swap) on the right, in FPS this allows me to be moving my guy while I swap weapons, or reload. At first the silver paddles were just a little small for my liking. They also move in their resting position a small amount, hard to explain but not a big deal. But way different than my SCUF paddles which has no movement at all.
The Xbox Elite Controller has two hair trigger switches that when switch on limit the travel distance of the triggers. Basically it sacrifices the analog fine control for a quick activation by making the trigger stop 1/3 of the way down. I tried using this almost right away thinking Halo 5 would be the time to use a hair trigger (vs. a racing game). I found it more different than helpful, the lack of travel actually is disconcerting. I think it is like typing on a glass touch screen vs. typing on a real keyboard. Maybe it’s just something to get accustomed to.
The interchangeable sticks are a blast to experiment with. You have six choices and you can mix and match any way you like. There are 3 sets of 2 sticks with different heights and tops. Changing a stick is easy and fast, partly because they are magnetic and snap right into place. I found myself changing these all day. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find a standard set – which is fantastic. As my thumb gets tired of one position I change the stick. The rounded top sticks seemed better for a view control where the flat or cupped tops seemed better for a run control. I could easily see spending money additional sticks, it’s really one of the best features of the controller.
So if all the customization is not enough you have even more control by downloading the poorly named Xbox Accessories app. Why call it that? After watching the mandatory video you have access to all the paddle remapping settings, presets (up to 256), and stick velocity controls. I started by experimenting with the velocity controls which allow you to increase or decrease the response of each stick. The effects are fairly obvious and have a dramatic effect on game play. I eventually set them both back to normal until I sort everything else out. I would suggest playing a game you are familiar with while you change these settings. I was playing Halo 5 and it was hard to tell what was the game, and what was the controller.
At $150 the controller is overpriced but worth it if you really love gaming. It’s sexy, well built and offers the most flexibility we have ever seen (almost forgot to mention the changeable D pad). I think it will even add new life to your old fav games as you try them again with a whole new controller. Oh and you can even change the brightness of the white logo.