Hands-on: Microsoft Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller
Whether its faster frame rates on a PC or faster display refresh rates, every little bit of a performance advantage you are able to eek out of your system and its components undoubtedly makes a difference to how well you perform in games. When it comes to game controllers, the same can also be said to be true. Enter the Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller which aims to pick up where the original left off. If you take your games even a little seriously, this is an addition to your arsenal that should be on your radar.
The original Xbox Elite controller is already considered one of the best controllers on the market for both PC gaming and Xbox One console gaming. However, it is clear from our time with the new Elite Series 2 controller that Microsoft has listened closely to feedback provided by gamers to make a number of tweaks to the original that go a long way to making the wait for the controller worthwhile. This includes making it the most customizable controller that we have yet to lay our hands on.
The first change that you notice when you take the Elite Series 2 (ES2) out of the new case is that it has an in-built USB-C charger to help keep your controller charged on the go. Similar looking magnetically attachable/removable paddles are also placed in their special slots, but there is also a new toy with which to play. It is a little screwdriver-like tool that also has its own slot and is used to adjust the tension of the analogue sticks. These are just two of 30 enhancements that help to put forward Microsoft's argument that this is the best controller on the market.
Users should also try out the several different stick length and cap combinations on offer. You never know what combination might work best, so it is worth trying out the numerous different set ups you can achieve with these. This will also vary from game to game in terms of what might actually work best as we found, but this level of customizability is what you are paying for. The higher perch you get with the longer stick, for example, gives you more precise adjustments due to the additional leverage. You can also save up to three custom profiles, in addition to being able to back to default settings with the flick of a switch at any time.
For gamers who play a lot of multiplayer FPSs, the new three stage adjustable trigger locks really help you to get those crucial shots off milliseconds before the competition. If you’ve ever wondered why you keep getting beaten to the punch, it’s probably because you have been playing someone with an ES2 or the original (which had dual-stage adjustable trigger lengths). The controllable depth will more than likely be what you have been missing and the new ES2 gives you the option for an even shorter pull. After using it, you’ll soon start to find yourself on the winning end of those high-intensity quick-fire battles – or at least start to win more than your fair share of the tussles.
But what about those paddles, we hear you ask? These are the secret sauce that really makes the ES2, and its predecessor, worth the extra dollars. Microsoft has made these a little ‘snappier’ and slightly smaller this time around to help take you from an also-ran straight to the top of the charts. What these do is allow you to keep your right thumb on the stick without needing to ever take it off to hit one of the buttons. They are also mapable using the downloadable companion software. Microsoft suggests starting with one first, to get used to it, before eventually adding all four. It will feel odd at first, but you’ll soon learn you can’t game without them if you persist with them attached for even just a few games.
There is no question that $US180 is a lot to pay for a gaming controller. However, Microsoft has packed in even more value this time around from the integrated battery in the case to even more tweakable options on the controller itself. The upgraded grips might be subtle, but they too also enhance the overall usability of the controller. The quality of the components is also second to none -- when you spend this much on a peripheral, you should expect nothing less. Most importantly, perhaps, it will almost certainly level up your gaming performance making it a very worthwhile investment in our view. It is an absolute joy to use.