Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 Review: Better than ever?

5

Like, we don't know. That's a real question.

The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 will soon be available for purchase, and ahead of release, Stevivor was given the opportunity put one through its paces. The result? Well, we’re in love… but after spending so much time with the first Elite Wireless Controller, we’ve questions that will likely go unanswered for at least four or five months.

What’s new

If you’re familiar with the original Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, the Series 2 keeps the same general form factor. It feels like it weighs roughly the same weight as the original, yet immediately feels more solid — that’s because the Series 2 doesn’t take AA batteries and as a result doesn’t have a flap at the back with which to change ’em out.

Instead, the Series 2 sports an internal battery charged via (a provided, ridiculously long cabelled) USB-C. While its thumbstick movements and button, shoulder, trigger & paddle presses feel the same, I immediately noted the Xbox Guide button is more rigid than the Elite 1, requiring half the amount of pressure to ‘click’. While it’ll likely make it easier to bring up the Xbox Guide for screenshots and captures, it’d still be nice if the Xbox One offered a dedicated button to do so like on PS4 and Switch.

While the USB-C charging cable can be plugged into the controller itself — in the same spot where current Xbox One controllers have their microUSB ports — the Series 2 comes with a little charging stand that magnetically connects to the back of the controller itself. It’s ridiculously easy to set your controller down on the stand after using it, keenly aware it’s charing immediately. Microsoft says that the Elite Series 2 will last for 40 hours on a single charge… and we’ve admittedly not hit that time yet so can’t confirm first-hand.

Another neat little addition is that the Series 2’s carrying case comes with a small opening at its top which allows a user to plug in a USB-C cable to the new base, allowing the controller the chance to charge in its protective hub. I don’t know if I’d ever really use that functionality on a day-to-day basis, but initial tests have proven that it’s super easy to connect the USB-C cable and the base through the teeny little opening… so at least I could if I wanted to.

The Series 2 offers the same swappable components as the original — you can swap out thumbsticks, add paddles to its back and decide if you want to use a traditional d-pad or the multidirectional, satellite-style one. New to the Series 2 though is the ability to swap between three pre-defined profiles (rather than two of the original) and use three hair trigger locks (as opposed to, again, two in the Series 1).

A new thumbstick-adjustment tool also lets a user choose between one of three thumbstick tension settings, useful to truly suiting your playstyle. On that note, I’m not sure which of the three settings I like best — between this and in-game sensitivity settings, I’m sure most of us will need to go through some trial and error before we find our sweet spots.

So why aren’t we sold?

All up, the Series 2 is a beast of a controller, following in the original’s footsteps and likely proving a must-have for Windows PC and Xbox One veterans. At $250 AUD, though, it’s a bit of a hard final recommendation until we have the chance to see if the Series 2 design has truly improved upon the original. Whlie Microsoft’s customer service department has been ridiculously good in replacing original Elite controllers because of a host of common defects, we expect a certain level of quality attached to such a high pricetag.

To some extent, the Series 2 looks to have been designed with the flaws of the Series 1 in mind; in addition to the battery change, its handgrips are completely different, comfortable yet properly integrated with the rest of the controller so they won’t annoyingly slip off after months of wear. That same ribbed texture that makes the handgrips is also found on the Series 2’s triggers, providing a pleasant feel to the touch.

To us though, the Series 2’s real test will come in five to six months from now — we can get around that much usage out of the original Elite controller before we’ve snapped off a piece of the RB button, rendering it unusable. Will the Series 2 fare better? Only time will tell… but man, we sure hope so. We’ll report back around that time to let you know how we’re going.