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Xbox One Elite Controller review: I'm finally replacing my wired 360 controller

Hayden Dingman | Oct. 23, 2015
I don't need a US$150 Xbox One controller. You probably don't need one either. But that doesn't change the fact Microsoft has built a gorgeous piece of hardware.

This means you won’t, I don’t think, be able to map additional functions to the controller. If a game uses a weapon-wheel on consoles, for instance, you won’t be able to treat the four paddles as four additional hot-swap buttons.

A caveat: Without Microsoft’s software available for PC, I have no way of knowing whether the paddle remapping is more extensive or whether it merely mirrors the functionality of the Xbox software. Ideally it would allow me to map any keyboard controls to the rear paddles, but I don’t expect that to happen. At the very least, you should be able to use third-party software like Joy2Key to emulate this behavior, though setting it up is a bit more of a pain.

D-Pad

The one thing I will say about the stock Xbox One controller is it definitely improved on the 360’s terrible D-pad. The Elite controller doesn’t change much, but gives you the option to swap between what Microsoft’s calling the “Faceted D-Pad” and the standard cross-style.

I can see why the faceted (read: round) version would be popular—it makes diagonal inputs much easier. But I hate it. Because there’s a dedicated switch under each of the four D-pad arms, the faceted pad feels less like “hitting a diagonal” and more like “clumsily hitting one arm and then the other.” It doesn’t rock into place the way I expect.

So I’ve stuck to using the cross-style D-pad.

The shoulders

Two minor changes here. One: Hair Trigger Locks. Next to each trigger is a nub which, when slid down, cuts the trigger travel in half and bottoms it out with a hard click sound. This is primarily useful for shooters where you don’t need the long travel and analog read of the trigger. You just need it to know you want to shoot.

Xbox One Elite Controller
Full pull with trigger locks enabled...

Xbox One Elite Controller
...and without.

Microsoft’s also changed the bumpers, which is a much bigger deal to me. The overly-stiff, clicky bumpers were one of my biggest complaints with the stock Xbox One controller. That stiffness has been dialed back for the Elite controller, resulting in not only a much easier but a much quieter pull.

Missing pieces

My biggest fear, with the Elite controller, is losing parts. The sticks, D-pad, and paddles are all held in place by weak magnetism, to make it easy to swap pieces in and out. Which is great! Except at any given moment you’ll have at least five loose pieces floating around, and potentially nine if you ignore the rear paddles.

 

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