The Elite Controller is the Controller We Deserve

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falconer

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Edited By falconer

A console’s controller is how you interact with your games. It’s often an extension of the character you’re controlling on screen. It’s how you physically feel connected to the games you play. So the controller should be of good, if not great, quality, right?

Aside from a junk d-pad, the Xbox 360 controller was widely considered the best of last generation, if not ever. Through the hundreds, potentially over a thousand, hours I spent playing games on the Xbox 360, I never got a new controller because the last one broke. In fact, after a decade I only had three 360 controllers; the one that came with my launch console, the one that came with my 360 S, and a wired one to play PC games. That thing was built to last.

I can’t say the same for the Xbox One’s controller. On paper it’s much better than the 360 controller. The d-pad finally looks and feels like a traditional d-pad. Microsoft also added this cool feature called impulse triggers, where the triggers are able to vibrate, and developers can program that vibration to give you feedback on how you’re playing the game. Anyone that has played Forza knows that this is now integral to the experience.

But, to put it plainly, the Xbox One’s controller is built like crap. It feels cheap in the hands, due to its lighter weight and probable thinner plastic mold. My first controller became unusable a little after a year due to the right stick drifting. And the one I got to replace it had a loose left back panel, and you can already see the left control stick starting to wear on the shaft.

Enter the Elite Wireless Controller, Microsoft’s premium controller designed with pro-gamers in mind.

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The Elite controller has a few things going for it, the first of which are the interchangeable parts. They all attach to the controller magnetically. The connections are strong enough that nothing will fly off while you’re playing, but still come off easily when you intend to swap something out.

It comes with three sets of analog sticks, a set of regular ones that all Xbox players will be familiar with, a medium height set with rounded tops, and a tall set. These are great for use in first person shooters as you can be more accurate with your movements with a taller stick. The tall one is still too different for me to use, but I’ve already grown used to using the medium one for Halo.

There are also two different d-pads; the standard cross, and an odd bowl shaped one. The latter of which would be useful in fighting games as you can more easily roll your thumb around.

Around the back of the controller there are a couple of things going on. The triggers have a switch that will stop them, giving them a shorter throw and stops them at their activation point. This essentially makes them digital inputs. As you can probably guess, this is once again useful for FPS’s so you don’t have to waste the fractions of a second to pull the trigger all the way down. I like this feature for Halo and going back to mushy triggers doesn’t feel right at all.

Finally, the most foreign addition, are the paddles. The Elite Controller comes with four of them, two short and two long, that go into the back of the controller. Any digital input on the controller can be mapped to the paddles. A pro-gamer would like this because they no longer have to take their thumbs off of the sticks while playing a game. But they’re still fun to use even if you’re not hyper-competitive. Halo 5’s default layout has the new dash on the B button, making it practically useless in a firefight. With it on one of the paddles however, there have been a few times I was able to dodge and still successfully pop someone in the head. It’s also kinda cool to have manual shifting on the paddles for Forza.

To map buttons to the paddles, or remap any of the buttons, there’s an app called Xbox Accessories. The app will walk you through how to do just that. You can also do things like change the dead zones of the triggers or adjust the sensitivity curve of the analog sticks, if you’re so inclined. As someone that has a family history of arthritis, it’s nice to be able to turn down the vibration intensity, rather that it just being an on/off switch.

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This app has since been opened for use with all Xbox One controllers, but the Elite Controller still has some advantages. The Elite Controller can have two different layouts, so switching between games with different layouts doesn’t mean going into the app every time. And switching between them is easy, as there is a switch on the front of the controller that lets you do that. It’s that easy because your custom layouts are saved locally to the controller. So, if you find yourself going to a friend’s house often to play some split-screen Halo 5: Guardians Master Chief Collection, your custom layout will come with you.

Then there’s the overall build quality of the Elite Controller. It’s SUPERB. The front has a matte finish, and the back of the handles have a grippy material. The d-pad, analog sticks, and triggers are made out of steel, so there’s no worry of them wearing down. The controller is definitely heavier than the standard one, but still comfortable to hold for hours on end.

And that’s what it really comes down to for me. The Elite Controller completely blows the standard one out of the water when it comes to build quality. It is significantly better. But is it a hundred dollars better?

The Elite Wireless Controller is $150. That’s 2.5x more than the standard controller at $60. Given that I was already on my second controller in two years, I think it was worth it. I like to play a lot of Halo multiplayer, so the additional bits are nice to have. If you’re playing a dozen or more hours a week playing Xbox games, especially if they’re competitive multiplayer games, then the Elite Controller is worth the investment.

As of right now, it's hard to come by. It's out of stock on Amazon, and it's not shipping until the end of the year on Microsoft's store. If you're in the market for an Xbox One, the new Elite bundle comes with this controller (Amazon, Microsoft).

If you have any questions, let me know!

And if you're interested in a video version of what I have to say...

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OurSin_360

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The 360 controller was built to last? I had the deadzone break on 2 of them, as well as the battery pack no longer able to charge.

Anyway i'll stick with the DS4, the elite looks great but it's overpriced as hell.

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Justin258

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I had so many drifting problems on most 360 controllers I bought.

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pweidman

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#3  Edited By pweidman

I'm sure the Elite is badass, but I'm real pleased with both my Titanfall and Halo 5 'Masterchief' X1 controllers. Both are put together much better than the stock X1 controller, and have shown much better durability in my experience. The 'Spartan Locke' version is currently on sale on Amazon for $45. Good controller for peeps wanting to spend far less.

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Ry_Ry

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I just can't justify the cost. Glad to hear it's solid though.

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falconer

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@pweidman: Yeah, I have heard that the special edition controllers are a little better than the regular one.

@believer258: @oursin_360: I guess I'm lucky then? Like I said, I never had any issues.

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Dave_Tacitus

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@oursin_360: Yep, I've probably had three or four 360 pads end up in the bin over various quality issues. My Dualshock 3 (a controller which I think is miles worse to use than the 360 pad) is still going strong and it's from a launch console.

At the moment I'm rocking a v2 Xbone pad and wireless USB adapter for PC and loving it. My v1 Xbone controller lasted a few months before I sold it due to those awful bumpers.

If someone handed me an Elite controller I'd no doubt use it as my default but really can't see a way to justify its cost over the standard pad.

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#7  Edited By mike

For $150, it better be that good. I don't know what they were thinking with that price point. You could get three 360 or DS4 controllers for that, or hell, both a full mechanical keyboard and a high quality mouse. Ridiculous.

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ripelivejam

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For $100 i may bite. Looks damn good, though.

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diz

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The thing I like about my one is the various heights of the changeable thumb sticks. I use the highest ones, since I have hands like shovels and I feel it gives me some extra precision. I really like using the dished d-pad too. Sometimes the under-side levers get in the way but I love that I can use them for shifting gears in driving games: They replicate paddle shifts perfectly.

The software also has settings for dead-zone and acceleration. I hope this software is made available to standard controllers as well some day.

The elite is really well made, but it is a shame that it doesn't come with rechargeable batteries. Also, the USB cable, although braided, does't have a charge indicator on it. I also think the ABXY buttons should have some colour coding on them too, but only for aesthetic reasons. At the moment the eBay prices for these things are loads more than I paid for it on pre-order, so I guess supplies were limited and demand has outstripped supply.

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ThatAintFalco

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#10  Edited By ThatAintFalco

...but not the one we need right now.

My 360 controllers were all about that analogue stick drift, and the rubber padding couldn't handle SF4 worth a damn. I love everything about the XB1 controller except the feel of resistence (or lackthereof) to the analogue sticks. That said, I'm never going to buy a controller for the price of two brand new and one discount game. That's absurd, but I'm sure somebody will buy it.

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Humanity

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@oursin_360: Yep, I've probably had three or four 360 pads end up in the bin over various quality issues. My Dualshock 3 (a controller which I think is miles worse to use than the 360 pad) is still going strong and it's from a launch console.

At the moment I'm rocking a v2 Xbone pad and wireless USB adapter for PC and loving it. My v1 Xbone controller lasted a few months before I sold it due to those awful bumpers.

If someone handed me an Elite controller I'd no doubt use it as my default but really can't see a way to justify its cost over the standard pad.

I've had about 4 360 pads over the course of owning a 360 since 2009 and I still use one of the wired ones on PC to this day. The only reason I don't use the rest is because I boxed the 360 up after getting a PS4 and had no use for them. Never had any problems with any of those 360 pads apart from some wear on the thumbstick, but that was after years of use.

Then again I've never had a 360 red ring either so who knows.

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paulmako

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The real question is how it feels compared to a DS4. Which is excellent and at a 'standard' controller price. Which still seems kinda pricey.

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TheSouthernDandy

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I'm glad this thing by all accounts seems super solid and not an overpriced hunk of junk. I might pick one up eventually. I don't need one. But I make poor choices.

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falconer

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@diz: I highly recommend using rechargeable Eneloop batteries with your controllers.

@mike:From what I understand, that's about the same price or slightly lower than custom controllers that have different sticks and paddles and stuff. But most of those controllers are built with those parts in place, so you can't swap them out like this one. Scuf is one such company, if you want to look them up.

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The Elite looks awesome and I'd love to get my hands on one, it's hard to justify spending that kind of money without playing around with it for a while. I have three Xbox One controllers from different revisions and even the standard one has gotten better over time. The 'Day One' controller is pretty bad, the bumpers are too stiff and my d-pad occasionally makes a springy noise. The Titanfall version is much improved, and the most recent revision of the standard black version (the one with the 3.5mm jack built in) is even better as they improved the bumpers considerably.

On a related note, I still don't understand all the love for the DS4. It's fine, I guess, but the battery life is terrible, the triggers are poor, and the rubber is coming off of the thumbsticks on my launch controller. I also have one of the newer 20th anniversary versions, and that doesn't have the thumbstick problem, but the battery life is still terrible and the triggers aren't any better. It's not a bad controller by any means, but I don't think it's anything special either.

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Sergio

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The main problem I have with the Xbox One controller is the ergonomics. I think the Elite makes some changes to address other issues, but as long as the ergo is the same, the DS4 will continue being the superior controller for me.

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Nashvilleskyline

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To me the xbox one is the best controller I've ever used, unfortunately, the drifting left stick is a pain. I'm also sure it could be fixed with an update that would compensate for that drifting. I really liked the DS 4 the 4 months I've used it when I bought when PS4. It's just not up to the overall look, ergonomics of the xbox one controller in my opinion.

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falconer

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@cameron: Given the bad battery life AND lack of replaceable batteries, I'm baffled as to how people find that controller good, or even acceptable. I remember the PS3 controller having poor battery life too, so I don't understand how Sony didn't strive to make that better in the next version.

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ArtisanBreads

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@mike said:

For $150, it better be that good. I don't know what they were thinking with that price point. You could get three 360 or DS4 controllers for that, or hell, both a full mechanical keyboard and a high quality mouse. Ridiculous.

That's my feeling. I love the idea of a premium controller and would be willing to go near $100 but $150 just seems crazy.

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fnrslvr

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Hm, I guess there are actually three features on this controller that could help with KI: the D-pad (I don't mind the regular D-pad, but I'm curious about the bowl one), the paddles (putting 3P/3K on the right paddles instead of the left button/trigger respectively would be a friggen godsend), and the throw stop switch on the triggers that I just learnt about here (it doesn't bother me anymore, but mushy HK used to drive me nuts). I guess it's possible that I might want to have different configurations for different characters, so the config switch on the front could come in handy too. My XBone time is probably 90% KI, so I could probably justify it when I stumble into the money for it.

I could also take the plunge and get a fight stick, but I'm starting to suspect that I might always be a pad player, and I'm not so sure anymore that stick cleanly beats pad anyway.

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Nashvilleskyline

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@sergio said:

The main problem I have with the Xbox One controller is the ergonomics. I think the Elite makes some changes to address other issues, but as long as the ergo is the same, the DS4 will continue being the superior controller for me.

Sony has a solution for that: a 3 foot cable and only one USB port on the console ( I don't count the one in the back since using this one actually substracts 1 feet from that extremely long cable). And yes, the battery life on that thing is abysmal. On the xbox one controller, with more rumblers, I can play between 12 and 16 hours of Forza 6 without recharging it. Yes I'm using the rechargeable battery pack.

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kishinfoulux

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It feels so damn good in your hands. Like the grips are fantastic.

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rethla

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#23  Edited By rethla

@nashvilleskyline: You know that you can use another longer USB cable and another USB port/charger if you want to? Its not like we are talking expensive special equipment. The three normally sized feets long cable is for syncing and putting the controller on charge after a playsession, not during one.

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Sergio

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@nashvilleskyline: I think you probably meant to respond to either @cameron or @falconer, because I actually don't have a problem with the DS4's battery life. It simply may be that we have different lifestyles, and I don't have 12+ hour gaming sessions anymore - I wouldn't even try playing on my Xbox One for more than an hour at a time with the ergo on its controllers.

As to @cameron wondering about all the love the DS4 is getting. It's preferences; everyone has them, and it just seems that the consensus this time around is that the DS4 is favored by more people than the Xbox One controller. Personally, the only issue I still have with Playstation's controllers is the D-pad. Some changes are obvious and others are subtle, but they all factor into a better experience for me than the previous DS and all Xbox controllers. The Xbox One controller was a move backwards for me from the Xbox 360 controller: bad shoulder buttons, bad sticks, and bad ergonomics. I'm sure the Duke had plenty of fans too, but that controller also had bad ergonomics for me that they fixed in the S. It doesn't sound like the Elite changes things there.

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excast

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I hope it fails if for no other reason than I don't want to see releasing subpar controllers with consoles in order to milk more money with "elite" versions become a trend.

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cmblasko

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@mike said:

For $150, it better be that good. I don't know what they were thinking with that price point. You could get three 360 or DS4 controllers for that, or hell, both a full mechanical keyboard and a high quality mouse. Ridiculous.

That's my feeling. I love the idea of a premium controller and would be willing to go near $100 but $150 just seems crazy.

Same here, just can't justify going over $100 unless it is some crazy Rock Band thing or a high-end arcade stick. This controller sounds fantastic, though. Wish I could get my hands on one to try it out.

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deactivated-5e49e9175da37

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You don't know what I deserve.

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Ezekiel

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I disagree. We've had the same crippling control scheme ever since the DualShock 1 eighteen years ago. We deserve a new controller.

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paulmako

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@nashvilleskyline said:.

Sony has a solution for that: a 3 foot cable and only one USB port on the console ( I don't count the one in the back since using this one actually substracts 1 feet from that extremely long cable). And yes, the battery life on that thing is abysmal.

Wait my PS4 has two USB ports on the front. Does one of those not act as a charger?

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monkeyking1969

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Its my belief that 'elite style' controllers from Sony and Microsoft will become big in this generation. Sort of the like how cars have the base LE pack and then the premium XLE model, the official controllers will come in two models. Moreover, I think that will see even more variants from 3D parties. If you go onto Etsy you see what I'm talking about, not only custom paint but even modified chips. To that will be added modified parts that last longer or have a unique shape/size. I know there is on 3rd party (MorbidStix) that will put Xbox One or XB360 buttons & analog sticks on a PS4 controller, that might be niche desire, but it even existing shows that there is some need.

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Meanstreet

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It's a really nice controller and no mistake. It immediately feels much nicer than the standard model, and the bumpers are much more usable than the Day One model. Still, even with all the benefits in mind it's hard to get past the price premium. Is it worth £129? Maybe not, but after an Amazon screw-up I ended up getting mine for £79 which is much more palatable.

Here's a tip I don't think they mention anywhere: If you want to temporarily turn off the rear paddles just double tap the sync (green) button on the top twice, the controller will rumble and they'll be disabled. Repeat to reactivate them.

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falconer

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#32  Edited By falconer

@cmblasko said:
@artisanbreads said:
@mike said:

For $150, it better be that good. I don't know what they were thinking with that price point. You could get three 360 or DS4 controllers for that, or hell, both a full mechanical keyboard and a high quality mouse. Ridiculous.

That's my feeling. I love the idea of a premium controller and would be willing to go near $100 but $150 just seems crazy.

Same here, just can't justify going over $100 unless it is some crazy Rock Band thing or a high-end arcade stick. This controller sounds fantastic, though. Wish I could get my hands on one to try it out.

I don't understand this mentality. I do understand that everyone values $1 differently, and a $150 gamepad is certainly a luxury item (on top of owning a $400 video game machine). However, something like a fighting stick, a Rock Band guitar, or racing wheel is a niche item, something that can only be used to play a handful of, or even one, game(s). A controller on the other hand is something I can use to play 99% of the games on my machine.

So, using the logic that a $100+ hunk of plastic to play one type of game, every once in a while, is justifiable, then a high quality, dense piece of plastic and metal that I would get way more use out of is most certainly worth the price. No?

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ArtisanBreads

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#34  Edited By ArtisanBreads

@falconer: I agree with your thinking but I also don't spend money on special controllers to speak for myself. if I wanted to spend $100 plus on a controller I would for sure buy a nicer controller that I would use very often on my PC like this one. I really like how it looks.

I'll just keep an eye out for a sale maybe at some point. It's just about my budget.

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cmblasko

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#35  Edited By cmblasko

@falconer said:
@cmblasko said:
@artisanbreads said:
@mike said:

For $150, it better be that good. I don't know what they were thinking with that price point. You could get three 360 or DS4 controllers for that, or hell, both a full mechanical keyboard and a high quality mouse. Ridiculous.

That's my feeling. I love the idea of a premium controller and would be willing to go near $100 but $150 just seems crazy.

Same here, just can't justify going over $100 unless it is some crazy Rock Band thing or a high-end arcade stick. This controller sounds fantastic, though. Wish I could get my hands on one to try it out.

I don't understand this mentality. I do understand that everyone values $1 differently, and a $150 gamepad is certainly a luxury item (on top of owning a $400 video game machine). However, something like a fighting stick, a Rock Band guitar, or racing wheel is a niche item, something that can only be used to play a handful of, or even one, game(s). A controller on the other hand is something I can use to play 99% of the games on my machine.

So, using the logic that a $100+ hunk of plastic to play one type of game, every once in a while, is justifiable, then a high quality, dense piece of plastic and metal that I would get way more use out of is most certainly worth the price. No?

No, the niche Rock Band/whatever controller is MANDATORY to play the game. The $150 is NOT as I can still play the same games with a $60 or less controller. And personally I played a ton of Rock Band back in the day so if you want to break it down to value or whatever that was way worth it.

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falconer

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@cmblasko: Yes, while a premium controller isn't required, the build materials and quality of current controllers (or lack of a replaceable battery in the case of the PS4) means that I was on track to replace my controller every 1-2 years. On one hand, if you think about it too much that's unacceptable. But obviously not enough people complain about it, so it's a nonissue to Microsoft, Sony, and most players.

However, there's now an (official) alternative. One of such a high quality it seems like it'll last a decade, if not more. Like I said in my review, if you're putting in a lot of hours, it makes sense to get an Elite Controller. People are going to eat through standard Xbox One controllers. No if, ands, or buts about it. Why not invest now in something that's better, something that gives you extra features, and save money in the long run?

Again, I understand the value of a dollar is different for everyone. Some might have to save up to get a $60 controller to replace their ailing one. But saying the Elite Controller is overpriced for what it is, meanwhile a person is replacing the crap standard one every few years, is... kinda back assward.

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mike

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@falconer said:

Again, I understand the value of a dollar is different for everyone. Some might have to save up to get a $60 controller to replace their ailing one. But saying the Elite Controller is overpriced for what it is, meanwhile a person is replacing the crap standard one every few years, is... kinda back assward.

Replacing controllers every one to two years? Really?

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Hunkulese

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What exactly are you people doing that you need to replace controllers so often?

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cmblasko

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@falconer said:

@cmblasko: Yes, while a premium controller isn't required, the build materials and quality of current controllers (or lack of a replaceable battery in the case of the PS4) means that I was on track to replace my controller every 1-2 years. On one hand, if you think about it too much that's unacceptable. But obviously not enough people complain about it, so it's a nonissue to Microsoft, Sony, and most players.

However, there's now an (official) alternative. One of such a high quality it seems like it'll last a decade, if not more. Like I said in my review, if you're putting in a lot of hours, it makes sense to get an Elite Controller. People are going to eat through standard Xbox One controllers. No if, ands, or buts about it. Why not invest now in something that's better, something that gives you extra features, and save money in the long run?

Again, I understand the value of a dollar is different for everyone. Some might have to save up to get a $60 controller to replace their ailing one. But saying the Elite Controller is overpriced for what it is, meanwhile a person is replacing the crap standard one every few years, is... kinda back assward.

Totally, if that is the case. But in my case I am still using the stock Xbox 360 controller I got with my launch bundle 10 years ago as the primary input device for PC games. So it wouldn't make sense for me to drop $150 just to be able to do the exact same thing. I don't know how common that is; I guess it is just luck of the draw. Some people have really bad luck when it comes to hardware failure. I had terrible luck with the 360 console - had to fix multiple Red Rings - but my controllers have held up really well.

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falconer

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@hunkulese: @mike: While my 360 controllers were fine, there are multiple people in this thread that have said they had a few that broke. The Xbox One controller is noticeably not as well built as those. Like I said, my first Xbone controller was total garbo, and my second was getting there.

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mike

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newmoneytrash

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i would pay the $199 for this if it just had decent bumpers

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mems1224

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Really loving the controller so far. I don't think I could go back to a regular xbone controller

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Snagged the Elite Xbox One bundle on Black Friday. Can't say enough about the build quality of the Elite pad. It just feels solid in a way that the typical Xbox One controller doesn't. I still slightly prefer the hand shape of the Dual Shock 4, but as far as Xbox controllers go, it offers far and away the best experience I've had.

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#46  Edited By handlas

Just got one as a gift. Best controller I've ever held, for sure. Love the clicky d-pad and bumpers. Good to have a controller that doesn't feel like it's made of plastic. Has a nice heft to it, grippy on the handles, triggers have a nice metallic feel. It's especially nice after wasting my money on the Steam controller. And everything being easily removable with magnets is great.

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Yesiamaduck

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I finally got one of these and it's easily the best controller I've ever used. It's build just screams premium, there isn't a single thing about it that feels cheap. Can't possibly imagine using all 4 paddles though, kept on accidently activating the bottom 2 but having sprint and vault on the top 2 paddles for Gears Of War 4 has been a complete game changer for me.... it makes the game feel so much more fluid and responsive. Also those analog sticks are delightfully smooth and accurate and the Dpad is beautiful (I cannot wait to try this out on some 2d platformers) this is THE perfect controller, the first one I've ever used without a single weakness, shame it's so expensive but I think it's worth the outlay if you have the cash. I can never go back to using the triggers on a DS4 Pad ever again.

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