Review: Xbox Elite Controller

Controllers are your interface to games and some have chosen console purchases purely on the controller design. After shipping 2 years ago, the Xbox controller is widely considered as...

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Controllers are your interface to games and some have chosen console purchases purely on the controller design. After shipping 2 years ago, the Xbox controller is widely considered as a massive success, with its solid feeling in the hand, easy access to thumbsticks for over movement and rumble in the controller.

The good news for Xbox fans is there’s a new option. Xbox engineers have thought long and hard, looked at the feedback and considered what would make the controller for the Xbox One even better. The answer of course is customisability. All gamers are different. We use different techniques and strategy inside the same game, as well as play very different titles where you’d love to be able to configure your controller setup to adapt to each environment.

To achieve this, Microsoft have created a controller that’s more a template, than a final design. The controller platform is built on magnets and before you start to be concerned, let me reassure you, the magnets are strong, so strong you’re never at risk of the components detaching.  I’m talking about turning the control upside down and shaking as hard as you can. Equally impressive is how simple it is to replace components.

So let’s talk about customisability. With the Xbox Elite controller, you have the ability to substitute thumbsticks, plus pad and add 4 rear triggers. This actually provides an unprecedented number of inputs, not only that, but there’s a hardware switch that lets you easily switch between 2 pre-sets. These pre-sets also allow for complete sensitivity adjustments for all the standard controls like triggers, thumbsticks and my favourite, the backlight level of the Xbox button.

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This is the closest console gamers have ever come to the customisability available on PC. One important limitation of the Elite controller is that while buttons and triggers can be remapped to suit your preference, you can’t create macros. As it stands right now, there is now update required by game developers to support the new controller. This is both a blessing and a curse. The great part is the controller works with all your games straight out of the box, the bad part is no macros.

Macros are a way of stringing together a combination of commands that get you through a multi-step controller function with a single button press. Take the recent Rise of the Tomb Raider game for example. You’re running around with the shotgun as your weapon, but to switch to your crossbow and use explosive arrows, it’s at least 3 buttons to do so, and crafting new explosive arrowheads is even more. Imagine the game understood you had an Elite controller with more buttons than the standard, you in theory should be able to map one of those buttons to switch to your crossbow and cycle through your arrow heads to find the explosive ones, being ready to fire in a heartbeat.

If the Elite is popular enough we may see game developers detect the controller is present and provide options to map the extra functions to new capabilities and even macros. This will create a divide between those who have the Elite and those who don’t, but that’s what you’re buying for the extra money, is an advantage, faster, more responsive, more precise and certainly more adaptable controller.

Price and availability

The Xbox Elite Wireless controller for the Xbox One costs significantly more than a regular controller at an RRP of A$199.95. If don’t have an Xbox One, you can get an Xbox One Elite Bundle for A$599.00 that comes with an Elite controller instead of the standard one as well as a 1TB Hybrid drive.

At the time of writing the Xbox Store is out of stock and the only other supplier, EB Games still has it listed as pre-order. If you’re in love with the Elite controller, you may find it a challenge to get before Christmas, but then again if you do find one for a gaming friend, then it’ll be an extra special present.

Overall

Overall the Elite controller is a great option for serious gamers and the engineering that went into making this happen should be applauded. For casual gamers, its most definitely overkill, but if you’re someone who constantly receives complaints from loved ones that you’re spending too long gaming, then you should definitely consider getting the Elite.

 

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GamingReviewsXbox One