So This Is What A $150 Xbox Controller Feels Like

So This Is What a $US150 Xbox Controller Feels Like

"$US150 for a gamepad? Hell nah." When Microsoft announced the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, those were my first thoughts. Then, like a fool, I decided to try it. You can probably see where this is going.

So This Is What a $US150 Xbox Controller Feels Like

Two Novembers ago, when the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One first hit the market, I'd decided that the DualShock 4 was superior to the Xbox One controller. To me, it felt a little more solid, a little less matte-plasticy. The shapes and textures made it easier and more comfortable to grip. I loved the opportunities of the built-in touchpad and light bar, not to mention the 3.5mm audio jack that let me plug in my favourite headset.

So This Is What a $US150 Xbox Controller Feels Like

And yet I'd throw it away in a heartbeat for one of these Xbox Elite gamepads. They totally leapfrog the DS4. You want to talk about grip? The rubberised diamond grip on this controller feels fantastic. Luxurious, even. I still prefer the shape of the DualShock 4's bulbous grips, but there's no way this controller is going to shift in my hands the slightest bit without my say-so.

So This Is What a $US150 Xbox Controller Feels Like

The new scoop-like, faceted D-pad feels awesome for the precise, circular motions you need to throw "hadoken" fireballs and "shoryuken" rising dragon uppercuts in fighting games. And yes, that's a 3.5mm headset jack you see at the lower left.

So This Is What a $US150 Xbox Controller Feels Like

The triggers have these shiny green switches beneath them that let you turn them into hair triggers at a moment's notice. Say you're switching to a semi-automatic rifle or pistol that requires a trigger pull for each shot? Just use your middle finger to flick this switch, and you'll cut the trigger's travel in half. Which means you can pull it way faster. It totally works, and it's super easy to switch between hair trigger and full trigger on the fly.

If my memory serves, the shoulder buttons (above the triggers) feel a bit better too.

So This Is What a $US150 Xbox Controller Feels Like

And then there's these wonderful new paddles on the bottom of the gamepad. In competitive dual-analogue-stick games -- say, Halo -- you'll often need to take your thumb off the right analogue stick to hit one of the four face buttons. To reload, say, or jump, or perform some other action. But every time you do that, you no longer have control over where you're looking for a split second. Now, you can map those face buttons (or anything else) to these four paddles that you can press without shifting your grip one bit.

So This Is What a $US150 Xbox Controller Feels Like

OK, but say you don't like all those paddles, or the new D-pad. Just swap 'em out.

So This Is What a $US150 Xbox Controller Feels Like
So This Is What a $US150 Xbox Controller Feels Like

They attach magnetically, with magnets strong enough and tolerances tight enough that they felt secure while playing -- yet effortlessly lifted away when I wanted to change 'em up. You can use as many or as few of the paddles as you like, and it comes with a pair of taller analogue sticks if you need a little more precise control.

Hell, you can even swap out those analogue sticks tops for rubbery convex nubs, like the older PlayStation controllers used to use.

So This Is What a $US150 Xbox Controller Feels Like

What I didn't get to try: actually customising all the buttons in the Xbox One interface. Microsoft claims you'll be able to adjust the sensitivities of the thumbsticks, triggers, and map any button to any other button or trigger on the entire gamepad, create controller profiles for each and every game, and even swap between a couple of profiles on cue with a two-position switch right in the center of the gamepad.

So you can have one profile for driving a Halo 5 Warthog, for instance, and another when you're on foot -- and just flick a switch to swap between them. Makes perfect sense.

I also didn't get to test out Microsoft's claim that the new steel thumbsticks plus a new low-friction material on the rings around the thumbsticks will keep them from wearing out with intense use.

So This Is What a $US150 Xbox Controller Feels Like

Comes with this carrying case, too.

To sum up: Super solid construction, loads of on-the-fly customisability at your fingertips, and maybe some cool future potential too. Now that it's got those paddle buttons under each of your fingers, it'd be pretty interesting to see if developers build psuedo virtual reality experiences that let you grip things with your actual fingers.

It's no longer surprising to me that this gamepad costs $US150. What surprises me is my sudden desire to buy one. It will be out this October.


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    Please tell me that there is a way to use one of these with a PS4.

      I can't see why you couldn't, but then again I guess that's upto Sony if they allow you to plug an Xbone controller in via USB.

      No you can't, no it doesn't. Plus I personally prefer the Playstation controller, it's a balanced controller.

        Says the person who hasn't even tried this controller yet. Dumb.

          I don't need to, it is still an Xbox controller with imbalanced offset joysticks. Dumb.

      Look up the Cronus Max. Nifty little device that lets you use any controller or keyboard and mouse on any system. Last time i checked it was still working on both the new consoles.

      I use to use an adapter to play my xbox 360 controller on ps3, worked excellent except for games that used 6-axis, especially when it was only used a handful of times to open a door every now and then or something stupid haha.

    That's a gorgeous controller. I want one, but the price tag is a little off putting. I'm sure it's worth it if the build quality is as good as it's boasting. But yeah..

      Really? I've spent more than that on a mouse.

        This is a good point :P My keyboard cost more than that if I had bought it brand new heh.

    "Say you’re switching to a semi-automatic rifle or pistol that requires a trigger pull for each shot? Just use your middle finger to flick this switch, and you’ll cut the trigger’s travel in half. "

    This does not bode well; an "I Win" controller. This would need to be widely integrated into other gaming platforms.

    Last edited 19/06/15 12:20 pm

    At this stage, if Xbox one had remote play to Android or iOS, I would buy one.

    Remote play to PC isn't as useful to me, as I might as well just play a PC game.

      It's coming, you'll likely see it on Android first due to allowing beta programs, unlike iOS.

    I've always thought thumb sticks should unscrew and be replaceable, the amount of controllers with worn rubber.

    This is a thought I've had back since the Dual Shock 1 days.

      You must be a youngin. I've been wanting this since my first Nintendo. Buttons and Dpads have been wearing out for decades!

        I broke a lot of C64 controllers (without throwing them) but always assumed they where crap. A lot of those spin the joystick games killed the Joysticks I was getting at the time.

        My Mega Drive original controller never had an issue, My special Mega Drive Controller never wore a button out, but the cable frayed and broke.

        Saturn never had a problem, PS1 noticed they wore, but never wore them out, I had a Digital pad and never got the 1st gen Dual Shock., Game Cube I had a Z button failure, X Box no problem although I switched to the S type. 360 I wore out one thumb stick, not the rubber but the actual spring. And I'm noticing quite a bit of wear on my XB1.

        So yeah not young but seemed to have had better luck than you did in only the rubber wore out.

          i need replaceable dials on the oscilloscope i use to play Tennis for Two

        Pretty sure the N64 takes the cake for controller wear.

    Just like my Xb1 that sits gathering dust.....meh. I thought it would be my go to...but it just aint.

    I love the Xbox controller and the XB1 controller is just so much better. Despite having tiny little girl hands, the XB1 controller doesn't make my hands cramp like the DS4 does. >:

    Also, that just looks sexy as hell.

    Yes, you can connect it to a PC with a standard MicroUSB cable (Windows 7 and up) See for the driver download.

    Here's to hoping the steam controller is better than this.

    Xbox One controller feels way too small and 'clicky' for my hands.

    It's still nice though. I prefer the analog sticks than the PS4's.

    Will buy the elite controller in a heartbeat.

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