I should preface this by being very clear about the fact that I have loved the Xbox One controller since day one. It has such a natural feel that is both true to what made its predecessors special but still finds ways to improve – the ultimate hardware “sequel”, if you will.
Honestly, if you’d asked me in 2012 I’d have told you that it wasn’t possible to beat the Xbox 360’s rounded, grip-filling form. It had weight and bulk but that wasn’t a detriment, it felt solid and reliable. Somehow, the clever minds at Microsoft managed to beat that, fine-tune the angles and ergonomics and create what I again will now say is the pinnacle of controller design.
Enter the Xbox One Elite Controller. Boasting hair trigger locks, built-in rubber grips, and a totally customisable design both hardware and programming, it took my favourite controller and again bettered it. At the time of dropping a whopping $149 on one it was the most expensive gaming hardware I had ever purchased except for a console, but I didn’t mind. In fact, I was thrilled. It had some weight, and I mean real weight. Compared to the base controller it felt like an upgrade without even looking at it, like it had been in the garage and had a new turbo fitted.
The grip pads are still my favourite feature, adding that extra level of luxury to the experience and genuinely making it more comfortable to hold over long gaming sessions. The hair trigger locks allowed quick, on-the-fly adjustments as you go from platformer to FPS titles, as did the profile switch. The added bonus of simple magnetically-fixed modular parts like the thumbsticks and d-pad were a welcome bonus for somebody like me who didn’t know how best to customise things to my preference.
Everything built into this piece of equipment clearly had a lot of thought put into it, with the ethos of simplicity and freedom underpinning every design choice. None of the features required time-consuming or tedious actions to use, everything was always a quick change or flick of switch away. Even the neat carry case it comes with has a slotted block to hold your spare parts, as well as a pocket for your cables etc.
Since then it has seen 3 long years of use and is only now starting to show signs of wear. The rubberised end of one of my thumbsticks is starting to give, not that it matters as I have many others to use. The rubber grips are showing merely superficial signs of wear but are still as grippy and comfortable as ever. The wireless connection and responsiveness is as strong as ever and nothing is suggesting that it will fail me anytime soon.
The detailed programming app on the Xbox dashboard has been fascinating to toy with over the last three years, with options to fine-tune right down to the sensitivity curves of your thumbsticks. I’m certainly no pro, but I have definitely seen an improvement in my previously very erratic aim in FPS thanks to these small modifications, and it’s just as easy to go back to normal for other games by flicking the profile switch in the middle of the controller.
Having used all sorts over the years from SCUF to Mad Catz, I would recommend this controller over any other accessory available on the market today. The many quality-of-life improvements its design offers complement the premium feel and build quality in superb fashion and I would happily buy another when the time is right.
GG, Microsoft. GG.