LOS ANGELES — I never thought I would consider spending $150 on a video gamepad, but I might start saving my cash for Microsoft’s new premium controller.
The Xbox Elite controller is great, and that makes sense. That’s because it costs $150 (and it’s coming in October), so Microsoft better not deliver something that’s just OK. And from the time I spent with using the pad, it hasn’t. The Elite feels wonderful. Its customization options are smart, and it already works on both Xbox One and PC. But if you are hesitant to pick up something like that, then it probably isn’t for you.
You can still buy the standard sticks for $60 — which Microsoft has actually done a lot to improve in recent weeks. But for pros or people who spend a lot of time playing competitive games, this controller could have a positive effect.
In the console esports space, Microsoft already has an advantage thanks to its now-defunct partnership with Activision for Call of Duty. This has made the Xbox One the standard for organizations like Major League Gaming. And a premium pad like this could continue to make Xbox One the go-to esports system over the PlayStation for pro tournaments.
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The Elite Controller is best explained like this: It’s a regular pad, except you can quickly and easily switch out the kinds of buttons, pads, and sticks that you use. It also features four back paddles that you can customize and the option to see your trigger buttons to activate after the slightest press.
And $150, for this type of high-end controller, isn’t unheard of. If you browse the custom joypads from Scuf Gaming or Cinch, you’ll see several controllers for the same price. But I’ve used those controllers from time to time, and they aren’t quite as comfortable as what Microsoft has made. And I don’t think they feel as premium. And they don’t have the guaranteed support from game to game and across Xbox One and PC.
Clearly, this controller isn’t for everyone. But for anyone who was previously considering a custom controller for Xbox One from a third-party, it probably makes more sense to get this instead. The options (those tall metal sticks for shooters!), the quality, and the support will likely make it the best choice for that crowd.
We’ll try to get our hands on the final controller as it rolls out to gamers later this year so we can give it a full review.
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