[Hands-on] Xbox One Elite Controller preview

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Full disclosure: we at htxt.africa don’t usually go in for pro-controllers.

No one in the office is a player in any eSports league and to be honest, our general level of skill is such that regular controllers are just fine as far as we’re concerned when we tackle an online fragfest in a shooter.

Furthermore, professional-grade controllers – like those offered by Scufgaming – while admittedly gorgeous to behold and intricate in their designs, are for the most part prohibitively expensive.

The Xbox One Elite controller doesn’t buck the trend in either regard: it’s a beautifully-constructed and solidly-designed control pad and its RRP is $150, which at the present exchange rate puts it in the region of an eye-watering R2 500 to R3 000 by the time it reaches South African retail.

The price alone would probably put it beyond the wallets of most Xbox One owners who would more likely drop that cash on games, since R3K could net you between two and eight titles, depending on how new they are.

However, pro players, or anyone prepared to invest serious money in leaderboard bragging rights, may want to start saving.

Xbox One Elite Controller

Whatever retailers sell the Xbox One Elite for when it’s released later this month, a punter’s outlay will net them:

  • An Xbox Elite Wireless Controller
  • A set of 4 paddles
  • A set of 6 thumb sticks: standard (2), tall (2), and domed (2)
  • A set of 2 D-pads: faceted and standard
  • A USB cable
  • A set of AA batteries
  • A Manual
  • A Carrying case

The Xbox One Elite Controller feels like a high-quality peripheral just from the touch. It sits very snugly in the player’s hands thanks largely to its rubber grips, which are covered in a bevelled diamond pattern. It also looks the part, with its shiny black surface contrasting nicely with its silver coloured triggers, shoulder buttons and D-pad.

Every physical component – the paddles, D-pads and thumbsticks –  is also magnetised so they’re easy to swap in and out and no tools are needed for customisation. That having been said, Microsoft hasn’t stated whether any of the components are available for separate purchase. This means that if one of your thumbsticks or paddles disappears down the back of your sofa or into your dog’s belly, there’s no word on whether you’ll be able to buy a single replacement.

The triggers have two settings: players can opt for the full range of depression on a trigger which is great for throttle control on racers, or halve it, allowing for hair-trigger responses in shooters.

Players can also attach up to four paddles to the underside of the control and map certain functionality to them such as jumping or crouching in shooters, which cuts down on the need to punch face buttons in a firefight.


The customisation options, incidentally, extend beyond tinkering with the Xbox One Elite controller itself. Players can further customise their input using an app, toggling button assignment, thumbstick sensitivity, and trigger depression sensitivity. Players can create infinite configurations, loading two onto the controller at any given time and they can toggle between the two load-outs with the flick of a switch.

So the Xbox One Elite controller is a slick but brutally expensive prospect, and its appeal will depend on whether you feel it’s too much controller for your needs. If gaming is a hobby – however serious – the price might seem a bit dear.

If, on the other hand, you’re a pro player, you might want to pre-order this now.