Switching it up.
Being the hardware guy at GameRevolution is both a blessing and a curse. I get to appease my addiction to new shiny electronics, but there’s far less of an overall experience to be had with hardware—especially a controller—compared to a video game that can resonate with you on a more personal level and generate different opinions between those who play it. So it can be difficult to give hardware a proper and thorough inspection, making explaining the pros and cons of owning the hardware challenging.
But after going hands-on with Microsoft’s new customizable, configurable Xbox One Elite Controller, it’s one of the better examples of hardware that greatly differs in experience depending on people’s needs, tastes, and the experience they desire from their games.
We all have different levels of dedication to our gaming habit, hobby, whatever-you-identify-it-as. And the Xbox One Elite controller is truly for those who are most dedicated to gaming. That’s not to say there isn’t value there for your average gamer, but at the price of $149.99 I can’t reasonably recommend it or say it’s worth the cost to someone who plays casually, or even someone who is fairly serious about their games.
No, the Xbox One Elite controller is properly named, because it’s for only the most elite gamers who are desperate to get the edge—any edge—over the competition, but do so without cheating. Case in point: There is no rapid fire. Anyone using the Elite controller is fueled by their skills only; it just allows users to better exploit their own talents better.
Nearly every facet of the controller can be customized. Do you prefer more sensitive triggers? You can toggle the sensitivity to meet your preferences. Will more minute accuracy in analog stick movement help you with your sniper scope? Well, you can swap in longer convex sticks for better control. And fighting fans who play on a gamepad—this is the Xbox One controller you have been waiting for.
Easily my favorite aspect of the controller was the ability to swap the regular D-pad out for a disc-like pad that contours to precise thumb movements. You will never struggle to hadoken or shoryuken again. These snap in and out of place with a satisfying magnetic click.
The four optional, swappable paddles on the rear of the controller lets you free up your thumbs for better overall control, but it does take some getting used to. Even knowing I have those available to me, years of pressing buttons the "old" way will be a difficult habit to break.
Every single button can be remapped through a coming app via Xbox Live—and thanks to the Xbox One’s ability to run multiple apps at once with Snap, you can modify your experience between respawns. Maybe you’re sick of running and gunning, and want to switch to a sniper. Before your counter runs out for you to pick your respawn point, you’ll have ample opportunity to swap to longer sticks, change the trigger sensitivity, and remap some buttons so you can move the fragging from the face buttons to the rear paddles—whatever suits your preferences, the Xbox One Elite controller likely allows for it.
The controller also has a very premium feel to it with a diamond rubberized grip, and it looks “elite.” It also comes with Elite pricing at $149.99, making this a hard sell for the average gamer. It also still requires AA batteries or a Play and Charge kit that adds additional costs in ownership—which isn’t very Elite at all. Still, it’s a great product if you desire flexibility and customization.