I’m happy to admit that I’m a massive fan of the original Xbox Elite Controller. Despite criticisms of build quality I had few problems with mine since picking it up at launch back in 2015. My experience was so good that I’d say it’s the best controller I’ve every used. However a couple of years of pandemic lockdowns and copious Call of Duty matches have finally taken their toll and my Elite is being retired in favour of a newer version. The Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 has been around for a couple of years now and was the natural choice for me as a replacement. It also had its fair share of quality issues from its 2019 launch but having an opportunity to use one later in its product lifecycle hopefully means most of those early problems are behind it. Now it’s in my hands I’ll get to find out for myself.
The Elite 2 takes its design cues from the original with its removable thumbsticks, paddles and trigger locks but these and more have been tweaked to the next level. The thumbstick tension can now be adjusted with the help of an included key which is great for players wanting that extra resistance when moving. The trigger locks, which previously were either toggled off/on, now have an extra level of adjustment allowing hair trigger like responses in games. Instead of two controller profiles, to set up different control configurations, there’s now three with a default setting plus indicator lights to let you know which is active. The rear paddles are still removable from the controller but the fit of them has changed slightly to that they sit more flush against the controller housing and that does make it easier to keep them attached without concern for using them unintentionally.
In a first for the Xbox platform, the controller has a built in internal battery with a charger built into the storage case, so no more AA cells for this one. What’s impressed me so far is that despite the battery inside the controller it still has that same premium feel. It’s incredibly solid and the weight helps it sit firmly in your hands. If you are comfortable using it like me it’s hard to go back to the stock controllers because the Elite 2 does it’s best to make you want to hold it. A neat touch is how the carry case is not just a place to store your Elite 2 as you can plug a USB-C cable into the back of it and it’ll work as a charger. It’s another clever redesign of the previous package that helps it stand above similar products.
If there’s a downside it’s that because it released prior to the Series X and S there’s not a dedicated share button on the controller. But in its place is the profile toggle button so for many that may be the preferred choice. Even though it is technically a last gen controller it’s now receiving firmware updates to bring it up to spec including improved Bluetooth support and low latency tweaks to help it stay at the top. The controller does feel like it’s as responsive as the Series X/S controllers and even though that difference is the tiniest fraction of a second it can add up in competitive games.
Whether an Elite 2 controller is for you would likely boil down to whether you feel that will you get a good return on what is a premium priced peripheral. Now that there are Bang & Olufsen headsets and Gucci themed Xboxes the price of this may pale in comparison but it’s still double (or more) a standard controller. And that awesome Halo Infinite themed version I’d have chased if I hadn’t already ordered this one. If you play a lot of games on Xbox/PC it’s hard to not consider this as an option. It’s my new best controller. 🙂