Gamers wait for E3 press conferences all year. There’s just something about watching the top dogs of the gaming industry cram loads of exciting news and announcements into a two hour block to prove that something like the Xbox One and its games are worth your hard-earned cash.
From gameplay trailers and title reveals to release dates and awkward moments, there’s plenty to love about E3. And although Microsoft’s HoloLens demo stole the show in terms of new tech, and Xbox One Backward Compatibility was a megaton surprise, people are already talking about how the revealed Xbox One Elite Controller might just be one of the best video game controller ever designed.
The Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller is a step forward
We won’t blame you if a new controller is hardly at the top of your list of most anticipated E3 announcements, but believe us when we say that the Xbox One Wireless Elite controller should have every gamer excited—even if you never plan on owning one. It takes a leap forward in terms of what a game controller should do and outlines how we still haven’t reached the “perfect” one after countless consoles.
Just like the NES controller’s D-pad and N64’s analog stick, the Elite controller may just be a glimpse at what we’ll come to expect from the standard controller when the inevitable PlayStation 5, next Xbox, and NXT land on store shelves. In fact, people who have already had the privilege of getting hands-on experience with this impressive new controller can’t stop praising the level of detail, high-quality craftsmanship, and more.
Video – Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Vidoc
The competitive edge
One of the first things people have said about the Elite controller is that it feels heavier. Even though it mostly consists of low friction plastic, all the interchangeable parts are made of steel. In other words, it is tougher and less likely to wear, making top level gamers very pleased—especially since they’re prone to seeing a regular controller reduce to an unacceptable level of usage after only a few months. This won’t happen with the Xbox One Elite controller.
Of course, no one is going to invest in Microsoft’s unique controller simply because it will last longer. The reason pros and even many casual gamers will be picking this guy up is for its unmatched level of customization. Triggers, bumpers, buttons, digital inputs, D-pad—just about everything on the Elite controller can be mapped and adjusted to meet your specific playstyles.
Even more impressive is the app that will allow you to set up your controller and save it directly into the device. The app will not just be for Xbox One, but Windows 10 as well, offering even more convenience when setting up your controller.
Use it anywhere
Being able to take your controller anywhere and play it on any console without having to re-enter your customizations sounds pretty awesome, right? You’ll also have different profiles to select with a simple switch—no pausing your game or entering menus during a match. These profiles can also be named so you don’t forget which profile is for Gears of War: Remastered, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, etc.
As mentioned in Microsoft’s vidoc, the ability to swap profiles on the go can prove handy even for the same game. For example, you can have one profile that uses the paddles to effortlessly drive your Warthog in Halo 5: Guardians and then switch to a shooter profile that lets you get headshot after headshot.
A controller for the individual
So how did they get the idea for a controller with so much customization? Microsoft’s David Prien reveals in the aforementioned vidoc that they actually went to people’s houses just to watch them play. Although these were gamers considered above average and boasting top leaderboard positions, they still fell under the category of gamers playing for fun.
Only afterward did they seek the best professional video game players who actually play for money. This included asking them what they would like from the perfect controller, leading to the realization that instead of crafting a controller that’s good enough for most players, it would be better to have something that can take each individual to another level. From this realization the inclusion of extensive customization options was born in order to meet the needs and preferences of any and all gamers.
Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller features
The Elite controller boasts plenty of small but significant additions and improvements:
One of the most immediately noticeable features of this controller are the four paddles on the back. Requiring no tools to remove and attach them, you can have as many paddles attached as you see fit. Not only can they be mapped to other buttons, but they’re also ideal for pulling off actions that would usually force you to remove your thumbs off the thumbsticks. As anyone who plays fast-paced competitive games knows, just one second of struggle can result in defeat.
The four paddles also come in two different lengths, one longer than the other. Since they can be interchanged, this is useful for making sure they feel just right, depending on your hand placement and size. If there’s anything about the Elite controller that will give you a significant edge in online multiplayer, it’s these four paddles that require only the slightest touch to register your input.
Hair trigger locks
If you’re a fan of shooters, it’s easy to forget just how many times a match you’re pressing on those top shoulder buttons to take out opponents. With the Elite controller, you can fire faster than ever before thanks to hair trigger lock technology that shaves off precious time with every press of the trigger. This works by giving you a mechanical stop that shortens the distance it takes to register the input.
Additionally, the hair trigger lock offers a bounce effect every time you press down on left trigger and right trigger. The hard wall is there to physically stop you, which lets you move back to neutral position much faster and be ready for the next shot. For games where this isn’t needed, you can of course flip the switch to return the LT and RT buttons back to full-range motion. The app also promises to let you fine-tune the hair trigger lock settings even further.
There’s an app for that
Who knew that one day our phones would not only serve as a great video game device, but also serve to improve our console and PC gaming as well. Such is the case with the Xbox Elite, which will come with an adjustability application that allows your console to directly communicate with your controller. Best of all, it is promised to be very easy to use and compatible with any Windows 10 device.
With this app you can adjust thumbstick sensitivities, assign all 14 buttons, triggers, and sticks, fine-tune each trigger’s maximum and minimum values, and more. Like we mentioned before, you can create a near-infinite number of controller profiles to switch between with the simple flick of the Profile Switch. Note that although as many profiles as you want can be stored in the cloud, only two can be kept in the controller memory itself at a time. Never before has there been a controller that can be adjusted for every player, game, and situation.
Durability and comfort
Those of us who play video games regularly know that controllers, like anything else that is used consistently, begin to wear out after a while. Whether it’s a thumbstick that has lost its rubber and now causes your finger to slide, or a bumper that doesn’t even register anymore, any sign of deterioration often results in discomfort and even a decline in performance. This is why the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller was crafted to stand the test of time and feel good in your hands no matter how many worlds you explore and matches you take part in.
Perhaps the most important element in gaming, this extra durable controller has stainless steel. All the removable pieces—including D-pads, thumbstick shafts, and paddles—are made of steel, and thus will resist more punishment than plastic. This also helps them all stay in place via magnets. There is a ring of low-friction material on the outside of each thumbstick that further reduces wear and delivers smooth motion.
The rubberized diamond grips also do their part in making the controller fit flawlessly into any pair of hands, and the improved grips make dropping the controller during a heated confrontation far less likely. It’s also nice to know that the controller itself is soft to the touch, which is a big deal for pro gamers, who commonly get blisters after playing for several hours at a time on a daily basis.
What’s included with the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller?
Aside from the actual Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, you also receive an awesome carrying case that not only looks cool but lets you conveniently store the controller and all interchangeable pieces. Also included are four paddles, two long and two short, as well as six thumbsticks, a pair of standard, tall, and domed. This innovative controller also comes with two D-pad styles, faceted and standard, which are sure to make every fighting gamer especially happy.
The other small extras include a 9-inch USB cable to connect the controller to either your Xbox One or PC as well as a pair of AA batteries. A product manual and Quick Setup Guide are also included should you need some help setting things up or getting ready for perhaps the best Xbox One controller experience so far. You also get a 3.5mm stereo headset jack.
Other specifications and input details
The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller can be used on Xbox One systems and PCs running Windows 7 or later. The USB cable or Wireless Adapter (coming holidays 2015) is needed for PC use; drivers will be available on Xbox’s website. The app that lets you map different buttons will be available on not just Xbox One, but also any PC running Windows 10. The Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter and all other first-party Xbox One controller accessories are compatible with the Elite controller.
Here is a list of all the assignable inputs, which may vary from game to game:
- A, B, X, and Y
- D-pad Up, Down, Left, Right
- Left Bumper and Right Bumper
- Left Trigger and Right Trigger
- Left Thumbstick Click and Right Thumbstick Click
Quality comes at a price
There’s no other way of saying it: This controller is going to cost you a pretty penny. At $150, it equals the price tag of nearly three retail titles at full price. But as you probably may have already realized, this controller wasn’t exactly tailored for the average consumer. Sure, we believe that any gamer can improve their online competitive performance with the Xbox One Wireless Elite controller—there’s no doubt about that. However, it’s the guys and gals playing at the pro level who will find this new accessory more enticing.
Coming October 2015
In just a few months we’ll be able to pick up a controller painstakingly designed by ambitious people looking to improve our Xbox One experience. It may be too expensive for the average consumer, and will rarely be purchased twice by gamer siblings and couples, but there’s no doubt that a good number of professional players are already counting down the days until they can get their hands on one.
While the pros may have no problem investing in a $150 controller, the following remains true for everyone: It will be great when every video game console ships with a controller that boasts the customizability, durability, and comfort of the Elite controller.