The announcement of the Xbox One Elite Controller during E3 caught us by surprise. In part because Microsoft has allowed third-parties like Mad Catz, for example, to handle the manufacturing of special controllers, but also because they have marketed the Xbox One as a mainstream console - a complete and versatile entertainment box that controls your TV, taps into Skype and offers Kinect. Stuff that ought to appeal to a wider audience. Xbox One Elite Controller is the complete opposite of this. It offers the best of the best. A pad designed for the true die-hard players, the pro gamers if you will - for those who aren't content with anything but the best on offer.
We've spent around two weeks with the Xbox One Elite Controller and are suitably impressed. The price is very high, almost obscene. 120 quid for a controller means it almost costs as much as three standard controllers or almost half that of the console itself. Clearly Microsoft's engineers have brought out some serious components, and as soon as you unpack it from its box it simply reeks of quality.
The Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller is heavy. It has a nice weight to it that adds to that sense of quality. In actuality it only differs 78 grams from the standard controller, but you feel it immediately. The moment we picked it up we could tell how genuinely well made it was; this is a premium product. It's covered by a matte rubber surface and the wings have grooves that provide great grip, even if you happen to sweat a lot while playing Alien: Isolation (as we tend to).
Included in the small cloth-box that the controller comes in there are three sets of analog sticks that are replaceable in just mere seconds, this thanks to a neat magnetic solution. There is a short convex stick, a longer one, and a medium one with a concave top. Naturally you can mix and match to your own desires, and we've noticed that we're a bit more accurate in Halo 5: Guardians with a taller stick, while the smallest one helps with precision in Forza Motorsport 6.
You can also replace the D-pad with a pad with an octagon-esque design. It's been designed for those who play fighting games and it's easy to tell. We've tested it mainly with Ultra Street Fighter IV (on PC) and quickly came to the realisation that Ken's fireballs are easier to launch with this pad.
The shoulder buttons aren't replaceable and neither are the face buttons. The triggers, however, can be customised to be more or less sensitive. Making them more sensitive improves our performance in games where trigger speed is of importance, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.
On the back of the controller there are four paddles that, much like the case with the Scuf controllers, can be programmed via the Xbox One app. This is for players who spend a lot of time on say Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 or Halo 5: Guardians, so they're able to customise them to their own liking and quickly be able to dish out melee attacks or grenades without ever releasing thumbs and index fingers from their primary duties. These paddles probably suit those with normal size hands and they are really well made with a nice response and a very clear and neat click sound.
Our problem with larger than average hands is that they are mostly an obstruction. It becomes a case of a few buttons too many and our bratwurst-sized fingers scramble to make heads and tails of them. It didn't take many hours until we pulled off the paddles and placed them back in the box they came in.
We have two Scuf controllers on hand at the office. One for Xbox One and one for PS4, and these are the controllers we need to compare the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller against. Pitting it against the standard controller would be like lining up a Fiat 500 against a Ferrari 488 GTB in a head-to-head race. The Scuf controllers are fantastic; they offer even more options to customise the controller according to the game you're playing, and they are not quite as expensive as this one. We also really enjoy the Scuf solution "control disc" that works really well with fighting games.
Xbox One Elite Controller does however feel better in nearly every way imaginable, from everything down to each individual button. It just feels like more of a quality build and even if we don't fully appreciate the paddles on the back, there's no argument that this controller is worth its high price. It wouldn't have hurt if it had came with a play and charge kit and the option of mapping macros to the paddles, but you can't have everything we suppose. Not even at this price.