In late 2015, Microsoft excitedly launched the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller—a $150 video game controller for the Xbox One/Xbox One S. Naturally, it was met with outcries of “Are you flippin’ kidding me right now? $150 for a video game controller?”
Described as “pro-level customization for a competitive edge,” the Elite actually sold out in retailers fairly quickly, and continues to find its way into eager pairs of hands over a year later despite such widespread initial dubiousness.
As a lifelong gamer who has been on team Xbox for about 8 years now, I was intrigued enough by this hard-to-find professional gaming tool to pony up the dough in early 2016 and get myself one. I don’t game as much as I used to, but when I do, I try to do it mindfully and make it count.
While I don’t think it’s a good choice for every Xbox owner out there, I am quite happy to report that a year later the Elite still feels like an excellent investment. Here’s why.
The Elite’s materials and hardware elements feel stellar
As a game controller, everyone’s first and initial experience with the Elite is touching and holding it. And boy, does it go a long way. Compared to the original Xbox One controller, the Elite feels like fresh-whipped butter.
The black plastic is smoother and firmer than on the original controller, and the face/shoulder buttons and rear paddles are pleasingly cold to the touch. It’s also notably heavier, which goes a long way toward making the original controller feel like a toy.
Speaking of rear paddles, they’re just one of many changes to the Elite that puts it head-and-shoulders above the standard Xbox controller. Four removable “paddle” controls live on the back of the device, and can be programmed to mimic the functions of any of the other buttons. This allows you to, for example, keep both thumbs on the sticks and use the paddles with your middle or ring fingers to execute face-button commands.
The Elite’s directional pad and thumb sticks are also magnetic and can be detached. This allows you to swap in multiple options to suit your preference, allowing for a very high degree of customization. In…