Xbox One Elite Controller Review: Is it worth it?

The Xbox One Elite controller is being touted as the premiere input device for the people who want to get a step above their competition. But is it worth the hefty price tag?

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Two years ago, Microsoft released the Xbox One, and with it, the new Xbox gamepad for a new generation of consoles. It had a lot to live up to, considering the Xbox 360 version was arguably the best controller of its time, and generally was met with positive reviews. It has its problems, and Microsoft publicly stated that they spent 100 million developing its new device. The Elite feels like the gamepad they wanted to ship, but ended up having to scale back on because of its hefty price, at $149.99. Although we had to wait two years, its been worth every moment, because this new gamepad is a delight. 

The Elite is not for everyone. With that price tag, you could simply buy two very serviceable Xbox One controllers, or a few games. You're even already about halfway to an Xbox One bundle this holiday season. Its niche status doesn't stop at the price tag. It has features most gamers will never use, and mapping inputs for a specific game can be overwhelming, not to mention extremely hard to get used to. It's built to cater to a very specific kind of hardcore player. Look at it as a piece of equipment to enance your job performance; that is, if your job is shooting the faces off of aliens or blowing by the competition in a racing game. 

The controller itself is one of the most comfortable input devices I have ever held, and it feels luxurious in your hands. The sticks move with a buttery smoothness that is almost startling, and the buttons all have a very pleasing tactile response. The backs of the handles have a rubbery grip that feels great and keeps you locked in. The paddles on the back have a metallic finish and require just a slight nudge to actuate, and for someone looking for an edge on the competion, that kind of response is neccesary. The D-pad feels great and responds well, and the alternate that looks like a steel drum makes false diagonal button presses a thing of the past. Even the controller material feels great, The front and back parts that are not rubberized have a matte finish that is also slightly more grippy than the standard Xbox controller. 

On top of the standard configuration, the Elite allows for an absurd level of customization. Included are three sets of sticks: the standard version, a similar version with an increased height, and dome shaped sticks with an increased height. Check out the unboxing here. There is also the standard D-pad, and the octagonal one mentioned above. Then come the paddles, two sets of two that can be easily removed from the back if you arent into that sort of thing. That brings up another of my favorite things about this controller. Everything is swapable without the use of tools, or breaking it down. All of the swapable inputs are magnetically attatched, so you just grab and pull to go to the next configuration. It also throws in a hard carrying case and a braided micro-USB cord for connecting to your Xbox or PC.

Once you get it hooked up, load up the app to remap anything on the controller besides the menu and option buttons. Big Nintendo fan? Swap out B and A so you feel right at home. I personally mapped one of the back paddles to sprint while playing shooters so I didnt have to press in the stick over and over which felt like a chore. It took a ton of getting used to, but my left thumb will thank me later, i'm sure. The app also allows you to change stick sensitivities and although you can only store two presets on the device, you can access all of your presets as long as you have an internet connection. Microsoft is also promising developer made presets to make optimal use of the controllers assets, but so far there are only a handful. Halo 5, Gears Of War and Forza 6 all have them, and more are said to be coming in the future.

As with all matters of price, whether the Xbox One Elite controller is worth your wallet depends on your own needs and how seriously you take gaming. If you already feel like you are at the peak of your game and are trying to squeeze more out, then absolutely invest in this one. If you're more of a casual player and happy with the standard Xbox One controller, the steep learning curve and overwhelming options might be a bit much for you. The Elite controller is easily the best controller Microsoft has ever made, so if you want a premeire experience, whether for high-level gaming, or just pure comfort, you won't be dissapointed.

Video Editor, Content Producer
From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 22, 2015 9:06 AM

    Joe Tirado posted a new article, Xbox One Elite Controller Review: Is it worth it?

    • reply
      October 22, 2015 9:10 AM

      man it sounds so nice. I really want one but I just cant justify that price. Come on sales! :(

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        October 22, 2015 9:14 AM

        I'm sure there will be some sales for it come Black Friday.

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        October 22, 2015 9:41 AM

        Yeah, it looks nice, but $180 CDN is just out to lunch.

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          October 22, 2015 9:45 AM

          It's expensive but for all the features it has it's actually cheaper and more customizable than any of the ones you can buy from companies like scuff. It's a very niche market that they are targeting.

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      October 22, 2015 9:48 AM

      Microsoft selling a controller for half the price of their console is a bit odd.

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        October 22, 2015 9:51 AM

        Having seen the interchangeable parts, I can tell it wasn't a cheap endeavor on their part.

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        October 22, 2015 9:57 AM

        Compare it against other gamepads with similar customization options and its actually priced in line.

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          October 22, 2015 10:03 AM

          I just this month dropped $120 on a mouse (thank you MassDrop), so I'm no stranger to expensive peripherals. Gaming or otherwise.

          I just can't wrap my head around this one when compared to the price of the thing it's connected to.

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        October 22, 2015 10:13 AM

        it's not like a regular controller is "worth" 1/6th of a console

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          October 22, 2015 3:37 PM

          Worth is relative, though I'll say good luck playing on your console without one.

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      October 22, 2015 9:54 AM

      dammit joe i want one now

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        October 22, 2015 10:05 AM

        I know there are a bunch of dudes on this site who will eventually own one of those things. :D

    • reply
      October 22, 2015 10:11 AM

      I MADE A THING

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      October 22, 2015 10:12 AM

      Unf, I needs it!

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      October 22, 2015 10:14 AM

      Fantastic marketing. There will be a Seri0uz Gam3r crowd that will buy this at full retail, and then MS will drop the price on it by $50 from time to time and still make a killing.

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      October 22, 2015 11:01 AM

      Im definatly interested in one of these. But i wanna see it and hold it for my self before deciding if its worth the outrageous price.
      Also i think that the standard xbone controllers feel like cheap crap compared to the 360 controllers. We have 4 xbone.controllers at my house.already and the sticks are wearing very quickly(especially in relation to how much they are used) and one has y and x not working.

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        October 22, 2015 11:04 AM

        Would a Microsoft Store help? I feel like they should have a display copy or something.

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      October 22, 2015 11:11 AM

      That controller looks amazing man, I want one to bad it is so much $.

      Nice vid, thanks, that controller will be mine one day.

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      October 22, 2015 11:30 AM

      Do we know if the Elite bundle is going to include the entirety of the Elite Controller stuff? Case, cable, etc?

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        October 22, 2015 11:35 AM

        Sounds like it will according to this press release

        http://majornelson.com/2015/08/31/new-xbox-one-elite-bundle-and-lunar-white-wireless-controller/

        Even better, every Xbox One Elite Bundle comes with the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, a new, performance-class controller to meet the needs of today’s competitive gamers on Xbox One and Windows 10. The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller offers fully customizable features, interchangeable paddles, further customization with the Xbox Accessories app, Hair Trigger Locks and high-performance construction to provide an unparalleled experience every time you game. Includes case and braided USB cable.

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          October 22, 2015 11:36 AM

          Sweet. I guess I know which platform my kids will be getting Skylanders Disney Infinity and Lego Dimensions on.

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        October 22, 2015 12:19 PM

        Includes it all.

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          October 22, 2015 12:24 PM

          Hmmm...yeah, the Elite Bundle starts to look more appealing in that case. Hopefully Dell or Best Buy will do one of their "buy the thing and get a gift card thing" things.

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      October 22, 2015 11:45 AM

      Really looking forward to getting one of these. If it is nice enough I might get more competitive games on the Xbox One instead of the PS4.

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        October 22, 2015 12:23 PM

        Just remake your guardian on the xbox one now and regrind out all your gear so that we can raid together.

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          October 22, 2015 3:28 PM

          I still haven't played with you :/

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            October 22, 2015 3:36 PM

            I know, I am horrible with being able to juggle who I can get into groups with.

            I've got a bunch of friends from a twitch stream I mod that does a lot of trials carries, another group of like 8 people that is my old raid group that I try to play with including my dad, and then shackers who have added me.

            That said I still need to do a raid tonight since I haven't done any normal mode so if you get a group together send me an invite when you see me and I will do what I can to join you.

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      October 22, 2015 12:29 PM

      Here's a question. When using this on PC, are the bindings limited to controller inputs?

      It would be awesome to be able to bind the back paddles to something like F5 for quicksave or a screenshot key.

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      October 22, 2015 3:36 PM

      Now if only Sony was willing to construct a controller worth a shit

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      October 22, 2015 3:47 PM

      how does that "steel drum" dpad thing make accidental diagonal presses less of a problem? looks like it would make it way more of a problem

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      October 22, 2015 4:07 PM

      I want one, can't really justify it since I already have a few regular controllers.

      If I get that new Windows connector I assume it will work with the PC?

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      October 22, 2015 10:16 PM

      Are the stick input senors more precise than on the regular controller? So will I actually have some kind of advantage with this in Forza 6, for example?

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        October 25, 2015 12:43 AM

        they are, and you can program them to be more or less sensitive to movement relative to how far the stick moves.

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      October 22, 2015 11:10 PM

      magnets.. how do they work?

      i'm really looking forward to trying that controller though. paddles might take some getting used to

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      October 22, 2015 11:49 PM

      Tried one out a couple weeks ago and it's pretty solid. I do think price is a bit steep for me.

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      October 23, 2015 12:39 PM

      Hey staymighty, have you tested the Xbox Elite Controller in Windows? Do you know if you can assign key presses to the paddle buttons? (e.g. I want to bind "M" to one of the paddles so it takes me directly to the map screen in Witcher 3).

      Does anyone else know? I know that the Xbox One app doesn't allow you to do that (obviously).