By George Wood
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Microsoft threw down the gauntlet during their 2019 E3 press conference, boasting that their upcoming Xbox One Elite Series 2 Controller would seize the crown for the finest controller within the gaming market, bar none, full stop.
Chest-thumping is all well and good for the press releases, but we the people demand results! Actions speak louder!
The much-hyped controller finally dropped this last month and boy was I excited to get my hands around it. After some field testing, the Elite Series 2 proved to be a formidable piece of hardware that I soon became attached to, mostly due to an exciting list of improvements over the Series 1. These improvements were defined as minor tweaks and in other ways as fantastic, cutting edge innovations. Listed below are ten of the controller’s finer features, and for these features it made the number five spot on our “Top 10 Father’s Day Gifts for Gamer Dads 2020” list!
10. Wireless Charging
Perhaps the most defining power-related upgrade on this controller is wireless charging capabilities made possible by a charging dock that can fit right in the palm of your hand. You can set the dock on a side table, next to the TV, or even keep it housed in the carrying case that comes with the purchase of the controller. The case in question has an opening at the top allowing you to plug in the dock.
That said, you can always just plug in the controller to the Xbox in case you burnt out your 40 hours and forgot to charge up the controller. Which brings us to the next features…
9. 40 Hours of Battery Life
The Xbox Elite Series 2 features an internalized battery that holds charge for for 40 hours of continual playtime, according to Microsoft. This is a major improvement over its battery reliant predecessor, because keeping batteries in my house should only be reserved for things like flashlights and smoke-alarms, not a high-performance gaming controller. There is an argument to be made against the issue of having to replace an entire controller in case of battery issues, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take
8. Supports Up To Three Customization Profiles
The Series 2 one ups its predecessor by adding another slot for a customization profile, which is especially important if you want to have independent button mapping and controller responsiveness immediately accessible when switching between different games. This means less time futzing about with options and no more compromising on your preferences just because of the matchmaking clock or whiney casual friends who just don’t understand the importance of the perfect configuration.
Switching between these profiles is made simple by pressing the central button above the tri-light column. Worth noting, a user can immediately switch to a default mapping scheme and disable the back paddles by holding the center button, or pressing it until no lights are showing in the column.
7. Customization Options
The Xbox Accessories App is an absolutely essential tool in fully realizing the vast potential of the “world’s most advanced controller to date.” To forego exploring the full customizability of the Elite Series within the Xbox Accessories App, is as shameful as buying a Tesla and never using the autopilot function or buying a high octane performance gaming PC and only playing Tetris.
Some essential customization options include tweaking trigger and thumbstick sensitivity, mapping thumbstick drift and complete freedom to remap the functionality of all buttons, triggers, bumpers and paddles on the Elite Series 2. Plus, with the inclusion of assigning a “shift’ button into your button remapping, the possibility for an entirely different setup is immediately available. You can even assign specific buttons to record audio, take screenshots, send messages and so much more.
Outside the realm of the Xbox Accessories App, the Elite Series 2 also offers much in the form of physical customization. Upon unboxing, I was immediately smitten with multiple options to change my D-Pad and Thumbstick, my personal favorite being the throwback Xbox 360 thumbstick caps.
6. Improved Design Over Series 1
I’ll give it to Microsoft, since their first foray into the ongoing console wars with the Original Xbox, their signature monochromatic color schemes have always been on point aesthetically. The Elite Series controllers are both functionally sexy in their own right, but there are a couple updates the Series 2 received. The first is the removal of the Elite Series 1 signature “Chrome Unibrow.”
The Elite Series 2 features a column of three central lights designating the controller’s profile, an improvement over the rudimentary center switch on the Elite Series 1. On the backside of the controller, another other noticeable difference was the removal of the radioactive green color on the hair trigger locks, in favor of slick matte black switches that better complete the black on black color scheme.
Both Elite series are hefty controllers, which I’m a fan of because not only do they feel durable but I realize if someone ever breaks in I could conceivably take them down with a well placed controller fling… and pick it back up to continue playing.
Finally, I’m wild about the designer’s decision to do a full wraparound grip rather than the half-measure strip on the Series 1. I’m not bashful to admit I get sweaty palms during prolonged sessions and neither should you.
5. Shorter Hair Trigger Locks
As any big league shooter can tell you, trigger throw shortness can be the difference between racking up the most kills in a match and being forgotten as a good assist. Reputationally, a league of difference. The Elite Series 2 serves up the touchiest hair trigger option yet, offering three different trigger lock settings that can be manually switched on the fly. This can be especially useful if you want to reap the benefits of a touchier hair trigger without having to dig into the Xbox Accessories App.
Another excellent upgrade the designers included are rubberized, grippy studs on the triggers that are especially useful during longer sessions where sweaty palms come into play. A simple but appreciated adjustment.
4. Adjustable Thumb Stick Tension
Gamers notice the little things. I remember handling my first Xbox One and remembering how much looser the thumbsticks felt than previous controllers. It wasn’t an unpleasant discovery, but I missed the tightness of old models, especially for shooters.
The designers over at Microsoft, in their continual dedication to customizability, decided to add adjustable tension thumbsticks to the Elite Series 2, a revolutionary idea to nostalgic old me. Using a little dongle that comes packaged with the controller, (Or a philips screwdriver when you lose the dongle), one can easily pop off the thumbstick tops and tighten the tension between three different settings. The range goes from the loosey-goosey Xbox One feel to the throwback tightness of the Xbox 360.
Also, a quick shout out to the steel analog sticks that can not only take a prolonged beating but still shine brilliant even after the most ferocious abuse.
3. Best Paddles On a Gaming Controller
The introduction of back paddles on the Xbox One Elite Series One controller was a literal game changer, especially with the ease of gear shifting during racing games. The Series 2 doesn’t mess with the formula too much, the only noticeable difference being a shorter paddles on the pack with the option to install paddles from Series one if you prefer the extra length. The difference is negligible in my opinion, and I’m absolutely okay with that.
2. Features Both Bluetooth and USB c
The designers at Microsoft nailed it concerning connectivity options for the Series 2, making up for the outdated choices offered by the old version. In my opinion, it was a huge misstep to not offer Bluetooth connectivity on the Elite Series 1. No Bluetooth connectivity made gamers have to jump through unnecessary hoops to use their luxury controller on a PC or their smartphone. Microsoft makes up for it this blunder on the new controller and I couldn’t be happier about it, (although it really should have been offered in the first place and it’s not that I am mad just disappointed with you Microsoft).
The second literal power move the designers made with this controller is eschewing the small and inadequate Micro-USB cord in favor of a braided, extra long and ready to rumble USB-C cord. Look, you may be thinking I’m overexaggerating here but I’ve wasted too many hours of my life trying to plug into the pinhead-size Micro-USB port during late night gaming sessions, missing the hole and flipping it and wiggling it around until finally it inserts… upside down. With the Elite Series 2 USB-C I immediately made contact and then cried actual tears of joy at this occurrence.
1. Compatibility With Other Devices
As speculation builds around Project Scarlett, (Holiday 2020!), one thing I was ecstatic to learn was that the Series 2 will, in fact, be compatible with Microsoft’s next-gen console. This is important, with the drop date just around the corner it would break my heart to find out my new toy is immediately obsolete.
The list goes on with potential connectivity made possible by Bluetooth: iOS smartphones and computers, Android smartphones, Windows 10 PC’s and Laptops. From the company bathroom stall to the comfort of a living room recliner, you can game just about anywhere with this controller. Just be sure to wash your hands.
In conclusion, I am smitten with the Xbox One Elite Series 2 and look forward to many hours of gameplay together with it as my friend and tool. Microsoft zeroed in on necessary improvements to be made on its predecessor, but let well enough alone with the things it did right. At least I have something new to tide me over until Project Scarlett is unveiled. If we’ve sold you on the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2, buy it from amazon HERE!