Recently, Microsoft has launched the second version of its premium Xbox Elite controller. In view of this, I decided to share my experience of gaming with an “elite” gamepad of the first version and compare it with other controllers — Steam, Sony DualShock 4, Nintendo Switch Pro — which I have been using for the last ten years.

I acquired the Elite a couple of years ago. In those days, many called it unnecessary luxury and mocked the poor thing: “What can Mikes do at all? Who needs a gamepad for this money? Is it made from gold?”. Well, you know what? Time has sorted things out. Although this controller is hell expensive, for the last two years, I have been playing games only on it.

The Strengths of the Xbox Elite

  • When compared to other gamepads, it is large and heavy — about 400 grams. For comparison, DualShock 4 weighs half as much. As Boris the Blade put it, heavy is good, heavy is reliable. And in this case, you can’t argue with that. The Xbox Elite was made pretty bulky and I have always enjoyed feeling a gamepad while playing games.
  • Besides, the larger size enhances ergonomics and now it is easier to hold the controller, especially for users with big hands.
  • A pleasant rubber-coated soft-touch finish on the top case feels expensive both visually and by touch.
  • When compared to the original gamepad, the thumbsticks move more smoothly and tactually pleasant.
  • High capabilities of hardware customization. You can change the length and size of the thumbsticks, add extra buttons and configure the device using special software. All this is essential for professional cyber sportsmen (while personally, I do not belong to them and almost did not use this functionality).

  • Pretty cool design. A matte black finish, metal controls, high-end and futuristic design, which, in comparison with a regular Xbox controller, looks like a real Colt gun next to a kid’s plastic pistol.
  • Extra controls: four butterfly-shaped grips on the lower back are customizable and detachable.
  • Improved ergonomics: quieter and smoother button presses, stops allowing to reduce trigger movement.
  • Lavishly equipped. To avoid losing interchangeable thumbsticks, crosspieces, and other components, the gamepad comes with a storage case. No competitor can boast such a generous set of interchangeable elements. 

Last update on 2023-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Downsides

  • It is really hell expensive. Elite is three times as expensive as a regular Xbox One controller.
  • After the second year of using the controller, the soft-touch finish began to peel off. By the end of the second year, the right bumper seems to be about to fall off as well.
    Batteries. It says it all.
  • You will need a special receiver to connect it to the computer, something that will cost you some extra money. 

So what? Did these downsides stop me?

Not at all. For two years, I have been playing games using almost only Xbox Elite. Given that on average I play 10 hours a week, it equals over 1000 hours. So no wonder that I have worn it out so much over that time.

Why?

It feels good in my hands. It is easy to use. After using it, I have no desire to take other controllers in my hands. Nevertheless, to make the picture complete, let’s compare the Xbox Elite with competing products. Just to make it clear why I gave up all other controllers.

Last update on 2023-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Comparing the Xbox Elite with Other Controllers: Steam Controller vs Sony DualShock 4 vs Nintendo Switch Pro

  • The Steam Controller is basically an innovative gadget from very talented developers. It had been my favorite gamepad for a long time.

It is pretty large and weighty, which is the advantage. But still, the Steam Controller does not provide as good ergonomics in use as the Xbox Elite (not to mention many complaints about the convenience of the Valve’s creation). Additionally, the lack of a second stick, in my view, is critical for third-party games: they are just not comfortable to play with.

The Steam Controller is, by and large, better as a mouse and keyboard replacement in games without gamepad support, but there are no many of such games today. Not without reason, the Valve has discontinued the production of its controller, having decided that there is no great consumer demand for the product. But I cannot fail to acknowledge, it is this controller that is really comfortable to play strategies like Total War or old RPG, such as the first and the second Fallout while sitting on the couch in front of the TV.

  • The Sony DualShock 4. This controller made by a Japanese giant has multiple unquestionable advantages. It is comfortable in the hands, well-made, equipped with a built-in battery (learn, Microsoft!), and can be connected to a PC… But there is something disappointing about this device.

First, the small weight: in comparison with the Xbox Elite, the DualShock feels like a trifling feather-like thing. Secondly, symmetrical thumbsticks. Thirdly, the lack of the console’s native support for many PC games (I generally play on the PC).

  • And finally, Nintendo. Its Switch Pro Controller is a pretty weird thing, in my view. Lousy plastic. The unit squeaks in my hands and crunches unpleasantly while pressing the thumbsticks…

It seems the Big N takes advantage of its monopolistic position in the market and the absence of alternative options for the Switch. Anyway, there is no point in buying this device for the PC, nor is it useful for the Nintendo console. Personally, I have acquired a third-party thumbstick and eventually connected my old DualShock to the Switch, and I hope you will do the same thing.

Verdict: Is It Worth Buying The Elite Series 2 Controller?

When compared with the first version of the Xbox Elite, the second one has built-in batteries (finally!) and support for connecting to a PC through Bluetooth. Whereas the price remains the same.

That is why you should get it! And even though in a couple of years, the Elite v2 will start to fall apart right in your hands — okay, fine! The one who once held a good thing in the hands would never replace it with something simpler.

Last update on 2023-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

PS: To be continued as soon as I get the second version and try it for the first hundred hours — Xbox Elite Series 2 testing.

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