Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller: First Impressions
The Xbox One has had a fair few controller variants in its time but the huge popularity in eSports (such as the Halo series) is certainly inspiration behind the release of the - expensive accessory – that is known as the Xbox One Elite (aka Xbox Elite Wireless controller as it also works with PC's).
At around the £120 mark it’s a big investment for the average gamer, especially for one that is based on the foundations of the standard wireless variant. Then again there is certainly a market for it as Scuf gaming discovered.
In fact speaking of Scuf, Microsoft’s Elite controller is all thanks to the latter company as Microsoft signed a licensing agreement with them; allowing Microsoft to use Scuf’s patents and other intellectual properties.
I must admit I could not have ever envisaged buying one myself, but I was still interested to see if using the Elite would change my mind!
Thanks to my colleague Dan I was able to spend a week with the controller, which granted is not a long time to make a full judgement (hence why this is not a full review) but at least I could see what all the fuss was about!
Design & Box Content
I never had the outer box to view, but the Elite controller ships with a protective carrying case for those who will be taking this to-and-from eSports event or in this scenario a mates house. In fact I was given strict orders how to handle the Elite controller before my mate left on holiday and the fact that the moment he got back he came over to collect it, showed to me that this could be a controller that requires kid gloves in the early days of its use! I can understand given the price tag.
Inside the case you get your first look at the Elite Controller, it almost seems smaller than the standard variant, but I think this is more down to the black finish of the controller; as they say black is a slimming colour.
Mind you it does sport a grey rubberised coating for the left and right hand grips; this will certainly aid grip during longer gaming sessions.
However the top coating is slightly different from the standard controller, almost like a softer matt finish. I did expect this to help with grip as well, but you will need to read my In-use section below to see if this proved the case.
Holding the controller definitely feels as if you have more of a premium product and it's certainly heavier than the standard controller. I’m not just saying this because of the price, but it does have quality in spades! More importantly it sits absolutely perfectly in the palm of my hands, so I can’t fault it here.
On the face of the controller you have a top edged silver finish that wraps around to the bumper and trigger buttons at the back.
The back is also coated with the same material as the front side and has a few extra markings on the battery cover, to match up with the two green switches that are tucked to the side.
These green buttons are hair trigger locks, which in laymen’s terms will shorten the distance you need to press the left and right trigger buttons in order to fire your weapon. I’ll talk more about these later.
What is interesting though is that Microsoft still provides two double AA batteries with the controller and you would have thought that given the price they could have at least supplied the plug-in-play charge kit!
My mate had to add one himself, so while they are not that expensive it still amps-up the price a touch.
You will also notice at the back some extra grooves and these are for the 4 paddles that you will find displayed in the carrying case.
Inserting these is a breeze due to the magnetic locks, but getting them out is a touch fiddlier. However this was only because I did not want to force anything and damage the expensive controller. Given time it you will work out the knack for it.
Basically the paddles act like the front X, Y, A and B buttons or you can use the Accessories app via the Xbox One or Windows 10 platform to customise them further.
The underside of the controller features the newly added 3.5mm headphone jack and you still have the propriety port in place so you can plug in all the standard Xbox One Accessories which fit like they did before i.e. the Chatpad.
At the top edge is where you will find the microUSB port and this leads me on to the USB cable that is supplied. Unlike a standard cable this one is shielded with a special braided material that should add more robustness to proceedings.
Cable length is lengthy, probably a couple of meters or so. You need the USB cable for when you are programming the Elite controller, as heading to the front once more you will notice beneath the standard select and menu buttons there is a toggle switch with 1 & 2 next to it. This switch allows you to change the profile that you can assign to the controller via the Accessories app. Literally changing the button configuration on the fly!
Also at the front you will notice a larger circular dpad. Similar to the paddles this can be changed for a traditional dpad. However the latter dpad has a metal feel to it and the quality is A+!
The dpad also comes off easily and clips into place once more via a magnetic lock system. It’s a doddle to change and the magnetic lock also keeps the button in place without feat of movement – it’s a great bit of engineering!
The only quibble is I have to agree with my mate that with the standard dpad inserted you can see the green backing behind it; so it does not looks as aesthetically pleasing in our opinion.
In the carrying case you also get various thumb-sticks of varying height and grip. These can be swapped with the standard sticks or you can customise the controller with a longer stick on the left and a shorter on the right for arguments sake; whatever suits your playing style!
As with the dpad and triggers these can be removed and replaced using the magnetic lock system. In practice it’s a doddle taking these off.
So that’s the basic gist of the controller in terms of its features and a rough idea of the controller’s aesthetics.
The next stage is to see what it’s like in practice. However before you start playing you can download either on the Xbox One or Windows 10 platform an Accessories App.
Firing this up will give you a brief intro as to what the Elite can do before returning you to an overview screen; which indicates how the controller is configured in terms of what buttons do what.
Primarily the app will allow you to customise the controller in a number of ways. Firstly like the standard controllers you can adjust the button mapping i.e. change the button A so it works like button Y for example.
However with the Elite controller you can take this a step further by creating an advanced profile for your games. From the off there are a few default profiles for certain games already available. Such as Gears of War Ultimate Edition.
If you select this you can then assign it to the profile 1 or profile 2 switch on the controller. This will then change how the buttons and paddles work in-game.
Alternatively you can go into more advance customisation by adjusting the sensitivity of the left/right thumb-sticks. For example you have a few pre-sets such as Default, Delay, Aggressive, Instant, and Smooth. Adjusting theses effects the distance in which the sticks need to travel before they react to your commands i.e. in-game movements. So it’s a case of enabling one and seeing how it works in the real-time preview before you assign it.
Once more the overview screen will showcase the symbol you selected in the above configuration window, so you know exactly what you enabled at a glance.
Additionally you can also adjust the vibration of the controller, so for example the vibration feedback for the triggers. Thus you could have the left trigger vibrate less than the right.
Finally you can even adjust the light on the Xbox button itself. On the whole it’s a slick app, that is easy to use!