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Thrustmaster eSwap X 2

This controller uses modular technology to allow it to stand out from the rest.

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There is no shortage of "pro" controllers on the market these days. Console manufactures create their own ones, with Xbox's Elite Series and PlayStation's DualSense Edge, and then there are a whole host of third-party controllers from all manner of brands, including Scuf, Razer, Nacon, and so forth. It can often be difficult to say which one stands out above the rest, but Thrustmaster has created a solution that is definitively unique. Why? Because it's based on a modularity format that allows you to swap out and adjust parts as you see fit.

This product line is called the eSwap, and now a second iteration of that controller has made its arrival. It's known as the eSwap X 2, and as the name suggests, this device is built and tailored to the Xbox ecosystem and Windows. With this in mind, the question about whether you should look toward this gadget or an Elite controller immediately comes forth. Judging by my time putting the eSwap X 2 through the ringer over the past couple of weeks, I would absolutely say there are reasons to pick this device over Xbox's official alternative.

Thrustmaster eSwap X 2

One of the main reasons I have come to like the eSwap X 2 is down to its build quality. This is a solid and firm device that exudes a premium feel. It's clearly constructed from quality plastics and metals, and it feels sturdy in your hands while emitting a sense of class too. It doesn't quite have the elegance of an Elite Series device, but it's striking with its black and bronze colour palette, and you get the sense that this gadget is a workhorse, something you can use for hours upon hours without worrying that it will give out on you. I make this point early because I've gone through multiple fragile Elite Series devices in the past, before deciding to pick up a Scuf controller instead, which has lasted me years now without fault. I haven't had years to test the eSwap X 2, but already it's clear to me that the build quality is much better here and that any damages and issues that occur can likely be easily resolved thanks to its modular style.

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The modularity basically allows you to replace most parts of the controller should you want to add a new aesthetic flair or replace a damaged element. You can remove the analogue sticks, the D-pad, the grips, and a variety of other areas when you whip out the included tool. Some of these areas are even hot-swappable, meaning you can in the heat of action pull out an analogue stick and switch it with the D-pad. Granted, I'm not too sure why you'd want to do that, but perhaps if you prefer the layout of a PlayStation controller's sticks to an Xbox controller, you now have the option to adjust that on the fly. It is worth saying that Thrustmaster doesn't include any additional swappable parts in the base model of this controller, meaning you will need to fork out extra pennies to buy additional parts should you want to explore the modularity concept. Although, on the other hand, the swappable parts are very firm-fitting and never give the sense that they could easily pop out or shift during gameplay.

Beyond the modularity, this device also comes with the typical "pro" elements. There are lockable triggers and buttons here, there, and everywhere that can be mapped to your liking, so you never have to worry about taking your thumbs off the sticks to reload a weapon or crouch, for example. This is incredibly helpful in fast-paced platformers or multiplayer shooters, and the mechanical buttons that this controller uses also means you get great responsiveness too, ensuring your inputs are registered quickly.

This brings me to the D-pad, which Thrustmaster states has been constructed with fighting game players in mind. It has curved edges that are supposed to make it easier to hit diagonal inputs, but in all honesty, I don't think there's a great deal separating this D-pad from the rest. It does its job well, and that's more than enough for me for this part of the device.

Thrustmaster eSwap X 2Thrustmaster eSwap X 2
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To enhance the customisability, you can connect the eSwap X 2 with Thrustmaster's own software to fiddle with much finer options, i.e. sensitivity levels, dead zones, or activation travel for the triggers. This is easy to do and the software is well designed, however you will need a PC to access it, which is no doubt a hurdle to jump through for some Xbox players, and also a feature many will come to overlook.

One other area that the eSwap X 2 stands out in is the small input bar on the controller's bottom. This is situated right next to an audio jack opening the door to wired headphone usage, and this input bar allows you to customise audio levels, mute your microphone, and even switch between mapped button profiles. It's a handy little addition that goes a long way for those who intend to make the eSwap X 2 their go to device for the foreseeable future, but it has its limits, as it doesn't interact or work with wireless headphones you (like me) probably already use.

This leads to the main catch, which is the core way this device is connected: It's wired. That might not be a big deal to many, but there are only so many ports on an Xbox console and ideally you don't want one constantly occupied by a controller. Plus, this is quite an expensive system, retailing at around the same price bracket as that of an Elite Series 2 controller. At this £170 price point, it isn't unreasonable to expect wireless support, although by being solely wired Thrustmaster is able to limit the need for Bluetooth systems and even a rechargeable battery, which is no doubt why it can instead focus its efforts on building the device with sturdier and high-quality materials instead.

So, all in all, you have to make a bit of a decision when it comes to this device. Do the limits of a wired connection offset the brilliance and future-proofing elements of the modularity and the endurance of its build quality? If the answer is yes, then this won't be the device for you, but if not, then there's a lot to love about the eSwap X 2. Either way, it's a pricey system for those looking for something quite unique and niche.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
overall score
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