Here’s a secret you might not know about hardware reviews. When you get razzle-dazzle hardware like an Xbox Elite controller to review, you don’t get to keep it forever. You have to send it back. That’s why I’m installing blast doors, barbed wire, electric fences, flame-throwers, a lab-engineered crocosharkosaurus moat, a battery of orbital death lasers, and a crate of kittens hopped up on catnip.
I’m keeping this one forever.
I’ve been madly in love with the Xbox controller since about 2008. Between my Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles, I must have, like, a zillion Xbox controllers. Most people pick sides on the console war front lines according to which one mom would buy for them, but me? I’m all about that controller, and the PlayStation controller is very much in my friendzone. I mean, we hang out and stuff, but I’m not mashing its buttons on the reg. This metaphor is getting awkward. Moving on.
My first impressions of some hot new tech are mostly concerned with whether or not I could beat somebody to death with it in a ghetto street fight. Hypothetically, obviously, because I’m actually about as violent as, I don’t know, dust or something, and I’ve not been in a ghetto street fight since that one time, and, uh, I totally just made that up anyway. The point is, I’m impressed by heavy things, because if something is heavy, it’s probably expensive [THEY DO MOVE IN HERDS. – Ed.], and if it’s expensive, it’s probably impressive. Everything makes sense when you think about it like that, doesn’t it? Exactly. The other point is, I could almost definitely beat somebody to death in a ghetto street fight with the Xbox Elite controller. This thing is heavy. But nice heavy, not total rectal prolapse heavy. The kind of heavy that means business.
So that’s super rad, but there’s much more to the Xbox Elite controller than random murder potential. It’s got a sexy matte black and brushed metal finish. It’s got rubberised grips. It’s got a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s got a whole mob of thingies to swap in and out, including six analogue sticks, two d-pads, and four paddles. But most importantly, it’s got hair triggers. If you turn over the controller, you’ll find two switches – one of the left and one on the right – that limit how far back you can pull each of the triggers before it registers a full press. YOU CAN SHOOT THINGS FASTER, YOU GUYS. It’s the feature I didn’t know I’d always wanted.
But wait, there’s more. Using the Xbox Accessories app, you can custom configure every button, stick, trigger, paddle, whatever on the controller to any other button, stick, trigger, paddle, whatever you want. Flip the X and B button functions? You can do that. Flip the right stick and left trigger functions? You can do that too, weirdo. You can also adjust the stick sensitivity and the trigger dead zones, and even dial down the controller’s haptic rumbles. The app includes presets for multiple games already, and you can save two configurations onto the controller itself, and change between them on the go.
So far, so mega-ultra-awesome overload, but back in reality, it’s all a bit overwhelming at first and takes some getting used to. The hair triggers and the convex sticks, for example, were an instant win for me, but I just can’t get around those paddles. Okay, it’s because I don’t remember what they’re mapped to from one moment to the next. I’ve blown myself up on my own grenades more than once. I’m working on it.