During yesterday's E3 Xbox conference, Microsoft unveiled a premium controller for the Xbox One appropriately dubbed the Elite. This $US150 monster comes with a level of customisation normally reserved for pro gaming mice. (In fact, it can also be used to play PC games on Windows 10 machines.) We just checked out the device on the E3 showroom floor: read on for the specs and photos.
Does anyone remember when Microsoft released a black 100GB Xbox 360 called the Elite? It's back, in pog/controller form! The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller is being pitched as a state-of-the-art gaming peripheral for pro-level players. It provides oodles of customisation for competitive gamers and even comes in a dinky carry case.
The Elite's main claim to fame is the addition of four bumper paddles on the back of the controller. These are detachable and can be mapped to buttons of the player's choosing. The idea is that you don't have to take your fingers off the thumb sticks during competitive play -- instead, everything is within easy reach beneath the controller.
Annoyingly, macros aren't permitted which means you can't combine multiple buttons into a single bumper. Presumably this is to stop gamers from having an unfair advantage during competitive play, but it feels like a massive oversight. (Let's face it -- having extra buttons on your controller's undercarriage is already an unfair advantage so you might as well go the whole hog. Mapping B and X together for fighting games would certainly be appreciated.)
The controller comes with an application that allows the user to remap the buttons as they see fit -- you can move the trigger functions to the new bumper paddles or swap over the functions of the left and right thumbsticks -- whatever floats your boat. In addition to button assignments, the app can be used to adjust trigger values and thumbstick sensitivities with the ability to assign up to 14 inputs to the ABXY buttons, paddles, D-pad, triggers and thumbstick clicks.
You can also create two profiles on the same controller to suit different games. This saves you the trouble of remapping the controller when you swap from a driving game to an FPS, for example. Swapping between profiles is achieved via a small button at the centre of the Elite controller.
The Elite comes with six stainless steel thumbstick toppers and two D-pads which are held in place by magnets at the base. These have reportedly been designed to suit particular hand sizes and play styles. We can attest that the thumbstick stoppers snap into place in a very satisfying way.
The triggers have also been bolstered with so-called hair trigger locks. Apparently, this allows you to fire more quickly although we'd wager this depends on the game.
Our first impression of the Elite is positive -- the Xbox controller is arguably the best on the market and this upgrade provides some considerable improvements. On the other hand, it is outrageously expensive for a console controller. Even Razer tends to keep its peripherals under the $US150 mark. Doubtlessly the price will be closer to $200 when it launches downunder. That's just silly money.
We don't think the average gamer will need the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller in their lives. On the other hand, if you're a cashed up Xbox enthusiast on the lookout for fresh bragging rights, this could be worth considering (especially if you're also a Street Fighter fan). Let us know what you think in the comments.
Gizmodo travelled to E3 in LA as a guest of Microsoft.