Sometimes, reviewing a product can feel a bit like a chore. If it’s the 17th laptop of the month, or the 9th smartphone, sure, it’s fun, but it’s not as fun as the first time you reviewed a device in that category. On the other hand, there are products that you rarely get to review, such as an Xbox controller.
For the past week and about 20hrs of gaming, the sacrifices we must make in the name of science, I have been using the controller and here’s what you need to know about the new peripheral.
Microsoft took a proven formula, refined it, added new features, and made the controller better than the previous Elite controller. If you liked the first-generation hardware, you will love the second generation. This is the 7 series BMW, the Audi A8 of gaming hardware, the S class Mercedes of peripherals, it’s a lovely thing.
It’s also priced like an expensive car as well, at $179.99, this controller is not cheap but for that money you get a controller that can be customized to your gaming preferences. Rather than you adapting to the controller setup, you can tweak nearly every aspect of the hardware to fit your style.
The triggers, with three stopping points, are a great way to refine your FPS gaming and the swappable D-pad configurations make it easier to hit the correct buttons as well. The Xbox button has a solid, and satisfying click, when pressed, but the other buttons fee roughly the same as a standard Xbox controller.
The addition of Bluetooth makes it possible to use the controller with xCloud and the 3 preferences for custom button mapping options is handy for jumping between games.
There are paddles on the back that can be mapped to buttons and functions but remained mostly unchanged since first generation. What is new is that the case functions as a charging station but I prefer to take the ‘block’ out of the case and leave it on my desk for charging via USB-C.
But the best upgrade for this version of the controller is that you can change the thumb stick tension. By turning a screw in the thumbstick, you can significantly increase the tension of the stick movement which is fantastic for FPS gaming where you can have it firm and then increase the sensitivity in the game without it causing havoc to your K/D ratio.
There are a couple of downsides that you need to know about the controller as well, and it’s not just the price. For starters, the new rubber-wrapped grips retain dirt easily. I tend to baby my hardware but even so, the handles retain dirt and it takes a bit of scrubbing to get it out. Also, the matte black finish will show oil from your fingers but this can be cleaned easily with a microfiber cloth.
The biggest downsides are what we don’t know yet. Microsoft claims that the internal, sealed battery, will last 40hrs on a single charge. That feels about right, based on my gaming so far, but we don’t know how long the battery will last during the months and years ahead. And if it does go flat, your controller becomes a tethered paperweight.
But the biggest issue is the durability of the controller. The first-gen controller had serious issues with the rubber on the grips falling off and bumpers breaking off. We won’t know the answer to these questions for several more months but hopefully Microsoft has figured out a winning formula for these issues.
So should you buy this controller? That’s a great question and one that is hard to answer universally. I really like the hardware, it is a joy to use, and I am very happy with it. But at $180.00, it does not come cheap. You can buy two or three standard controllers for the price of one Elite v2 controller which makes it significantly harder to justify.
If $180 isnt too much for you, then you will absolutely love the Elite v2 and since it will work with the next generation Scarlett console, you will get a lot of mileage out of the peripheral. At the same time, if you are playing on an Xbox One S and are on the fence about spending $180 on a controller, I would personally put that money towards an Xbox One X, rather than an Elite V2.