Microsoft have been a leader in the console race since 2001, with the original Xbox console dominating the scene until the Playstation 2. There is no doubting that the aesthetics, comfort and design of its controllers have never lacked leaps in improvement between each iteration. Whether or not you’re a fan of the console- you know the controllers are rugged, comfortable and stylish.
Starting from the beginning, you had the old “Duke” controller.
This controller was big, clunky and had the Black and White buttons above A, B, X and Y. It was an okay layout if you had big hands that could reach everything, but to most, it was an uncomfortable layout that Microsoft was quick to rectify with their follow-up controller, the Xbox Controller S.
This controller was much smaller, easier for hands of all sizes and was easier to navigate, with the Black and White buttons below A, B, X and Y. Both of these controllers had a left and right Trigger, a Directional Pad, two Thumbsticks and Start and Back buttons. While this all sounds basic for a controller these days, you must remember that at the time controllers were only newly being made this way. Gone were the days of a tiny square with maybe four to six buttons total, now was the era of large, complicated looking layouts still being perfected.
By the time the Xbox 360 came out, the controller it came with was designed for comfort and ease, with a style finally decided. This design remained unchanged throughout the 360’s life, with the use of a left and right Bumper to replace the Black and White buttons, and the rest remaining virtually the same. The Guide button was a big part of the 360 Controller, adding the option to either Pause while remaining in-game, or quitting the game entirely and landing back in the 360 menu.
When the Xbox One was released in late November 2013, the controller design looked incredible. It was similar in layout to the 360, making it immediately familiar to gamers of the brand’s previous console, but new and sleek in design, making it feel like a real upgrade in hardware, a lot of gamers feel there can be more to a controller. Assuming you keep your forefingers on the left and right Bumpers, with your middle fingers on the Triggers, that still leaves you with two fingers on each hand that don’t do much except hold the controller.
Then Microsoft released the Xbox One Elite Controller. This controller is by far the best design of console controller in today’s gaming standards. With an attractive mix of plastic, metal and rubber parts, this controller feels… Premium.
It feels like what a professional gamer might use in a tournament. It is a heavy controller, but not uncomfortably so, with its softened plastic face plate and rubber grips to prevent sweaty palms from making the controller hard to grip, the Bumpers, Triggers, D-Pad and Guide plate are all metal, along with the Thumbsticks, which have a rubber top for comfort. The A, B, X and Y buttons are a soft plastic, along with the Guide button, Menu button and Back button.
The first thing you may notice is that there is an extra button between Menu and Back. This is related to the free software you are prompted to download when you first connect the controller to your console. It allows you to have two different controller pre-sets saved, and with a simple flick of that button, you can instantly swap between those two settings. The app itself is incredibly detailed. It will first let you name your controller, then allows you to re-map your buttons, change Thumbstick sensitivity and save pre-sets for games you play.
The Xbox One Elite Controller’s hype is largely based on the use of Paddles on the back of the controller, you have the option to attach up to four Paddles to the back, which are magnetic and require no screwing/unscrewing. These paddles work as a secondary button that you can set. One tactic is to use the Paddles as your replacement for the A, B, X and Y, as it means you no longer have to take your thumb off the right Thumbstick to press them, possibly giving you a milli-second advantage in multi-player games.
The problem, however, is getting used to to the Paddles. It doesn’t feel natural to use the ring and pinky finger on a controller, so learning to use them feels awkward at first. There is also the accidental presses, when you grip the controller and accidentally hit the paddles, which can be the difference between a win and a loss in some games. Once you are used to the Paddles however, the efficiency and ease of use greatly makes up for the time you will spend getting used to it.
Another feature of the Elite Controller is the changeable Thumbsticks and D-Pad. The Thumbsticks can be changed to a much taller option, to help with accuracy and precise movement, or can be changed to a convex rubber piece, instead of Xbox’s usual concave piece. This is purely a comfort option and is entirely up to the user. The D-Pad has two options, from the same old cross D-Pad, to a disc-shaped “Universal” D-Pad, which is less accurate but allows for diagonal movement with ease.
Another factor for those interested is its price. In Australia, you are looking at just shy of AUD 200 when it was newly released, with no sign of dropping anytime soon. This seems like a steep price, but with the speed the first shipment to Australian stores sold out, it looks like not many are too worried about the price tag.
The Xbox One Elite Controller feels great it’s weighty and solid, while still feeling nice in the hand after an extended amount of play. The battery lasts a long time and comes with a long and sturdy charging cable. There are no issues with responsiveness, or input lag, and it still adapts to the peripherals developed for the standard controller, making it a great replacement as your new Player One controller.