Monday, May 17, 2021

Xbox Elite Series Controllers

 By: Patrick Morris

I've never done a video that I would really consider a hardware review before but I suppose there first time thing for everything. Every moment we spend playing video games and even those moments that we aren't playing but simply interacting with our consoles we are using a controller, unless for some reason you're a ride or die kinect fan and still using that thing. But the controller is something that is constantly used but yet still somehow almost entirely overlooked. Until a few years ago when Microsoft decided to change that and last year…I think they perfected it.


Welcome welcome welcome everyone welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLaw Morris and this is the video essay series in which I get to talk about that game's I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. Now this is gonna be a little bit different from my usual videos, instead of talking about a game or a larger topic we will be discussing my thoughts on the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller's. So lets get to it.


During their E3 (rest in peace) 2015 press conference Microsoft announced the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller. It would feature rubber grips on the back, swappable thumbsticks and dpads, and two different trigger stops. But the most important feature that the first generation of the Elite Wireless Controller brought to the table was rear facing remappable paddles. And with the new software made for the Elite Controller players had the freedom to remap any button to any other button or paddle they wanted. It was a conglomeration of features that while luxurious and tempting it was essentially just that, a luxury. I saw the original Elite Controller and its $150 price tag and initially decided to pass.


It wasn’t until the appalling control scheme of Red Dead Redemption 2 that I felt the Elite Controller would make a big enough difference in my gameplay experience that I decided to bite the bullet. After purchasing my original Elite Controller I was satisfied with it. It did what I needed it to do and it did it all better than any other controller I could have had for my Xbox at the time but there were still a few things left to be desired. 


In my original Elite Controller I was using Microsoft's own charge and play kit as the controller that cost $150 still required a pair of double A's; and that charge and play kit would last about four hours per charge. I was legitimately to the point that whether it was right at the start of a gaming session or more toward the end or anywhere in-between I was having to charge my original Elite Controller every time I played. The paddles were the main selling point for me and while they definitely functioned properly and featured a sleek design they never seemed to feel as good as they looked. The feedback from the paddles wasn’t bad, it was just a bit mushy and didn’t give me the satisfying click I'm looking for when I spend more than $60 on a controller. The grip on my controller always stayed on but I know of several other people that had theirs peel off over time. And the bumpers are notorious for breaking or just not registering a press, which is something I was starting to experience on my original Elite Controller.


Overall the original Elite Controller was a really good first attempt. But that was really its biggest problem, even after playing with it for hundreds of hours it still felt like a first attempt. a really good first attempt but a first attempt none the less. The controller looked good, felt good, and functioned exactly as advertised but even prior to the Series 2 being announced there were still so many improvement's I was wanting to see. But now I've had the Series 2 in my hands for a while and I feel like all is right in the world.


The Elite Series 2 feels incredible. The rear facing paddles and dpad feel significantly clickier and more sure footed than their predecessor's. the frictionless sticks are just as smooth if not somehow smoother than the original. And the rubber grip wraps all the way around the handles of the controller, not only providing more grip but also leaving less chance for them to begin to peel off like they did on the original. The bumpers feel about the same but now the plastic body of the controller that shields the bumpers from any potential damage climbs much higher leaving less room for dust and debris to work its way inside. There's a third trigger stop this time around,  stopping even shorter than the shortest option on the original turning a trigger pull into essentially a button press with almost no travel (not really my speed but it's always good to have options). And FINALLY an Xbox controller has a built in battery, and a battery that is no slouch either. I didn’t have to charge my Elite Series 2 until I had 35 hours logged on it! And that wasn’t even because it needed to be charged it was because I put it down on the charging dock when I wasn’t thinking about it. 


The Elite Controller Series 2 delivers on and damn near perfects every feature I felt the original had fallen short on. And it does it all while somehow looking even better than the original! Gone are the silver accents replaced instead with matte black and gunmetal. And I might sound crazy saying this but one of my biggest problems with the Xbox controllers in general last generation is that it always felt just a bit to big, especially when compared to the DualShock 4. But the Series 2 feels just ever so slightly smaller which at least for me goes a really long way in making it a more enjoyable experience. Really the only way the Series 2 is outdone by the original is the thumbstick selection, on my original Elite I use the standard stick on the left and the long convex stick on the right to imitate the original Xbox's duke controller. I was sad to see that for whatever reason the old sticks don’t fit on the new controller.


So I know this is gonna sound hyperbolic and I'm sure I'll eat my words when Microsoft announces the Series 3 in a couple years, but with the insane feature set, some of which I didn’t even mention like the adjustable thumbstick tension and the packed in charging dock that fits in and can be removed from the hardshell case, I think Microsoft made the perfect controller. Aside from more first party thumbstick options and a gyro sensor there is genuinely nothing I would change or add to this controller and when Sony finally steps up and makes the DualSense Pro or whatever they're going to call it they're going to have to really knock it out of the park to beat out the Elite Series 2.


What do you guys think of the Xbox Elite Controllers? Are they premium products worth the money or just a hunk of plastic made to milk suckers like me for all they're worth? Let me know in the comments down below. And while you're down there if you liked this more relaxed style of video let me know. You can see everything we do including both of our podcasts all in one spot over at I'll be back next week talking about something else entirely so until then just go play some games!

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