Review: Elite Series 2
When it comes to accessories, Microsoft sure knows how to make them – especially their controllers. When I first saw the Elite Controller at E3 2015, I immediately went out to preorder one. It released the day Halo 5 came out, and that night at 12:30am I sat there trying to play Halo 5, getting used to the paddles underneath the controller. The whole experience took a little getting used to and I woke up the next morning with a headache. It was a huge adjustment for me, fighting against years of muscle memory, using paddles instead of my thumbs to hit one of the 4 face buttons. However, once I got used to it and customized the controller the way I wanted it, the Elite controller helped me be a better competitive player. Even today the controller still holds up very well and I can say that I have not had the issues that a number of players reported.
Fast forward to E3 2019 and Microsoft reveals the new Elite Series 2. Better grips, smaller paddles, a built in internal battery. Even better! Then there’s stick tightening and even more customization, with users getting to play with 3 different profiles on the controller, all available at the click of a button. All of these features make this a very premium controller.
Let’s start with the paddles. They are small and bit harder to press down. It feels better to use them, and I never feel like I accidentally hit them like I did with my first Elite controller. While they are smaller, I never found the controller more difficult to hold. Typically I reserve the paddles for the ABXY buttons so my thumbs never leave the sticks. I mostly use this for shooters but it can also be used in other games.
The triggers also got a nice change. On the original Elite controller, the trigger stops only had two settings – one regular push down and the second for a quicker push. This was mostly for shooters so you can get your gun to shoot off faster and out gun your opponent. I loved the feature and its back but with a 3rd quicker setting. This makes the triggers feel more like a regular button press, almost replicating a mouse click. The triggers are also textured so the feel of them is much better and I never felt my fingers slipping when using them.
The joysticks also received a huge update. The controller comes with the regular Xbox one sticks. These can be removed simply by pulling on the sticks, where a simple magnet keeps them in place, just like the original Elite controller. The controller comes with 4 extra sticks. 2 Xbox 360 like sticks, a domed stick, and a longer stick. I used the longer stick on the right side, so I can aim much better and boy does it help with sniping in Apex Legends. The Elite controller now comes with a Thumb stick adjustment tool that can tighten the sticks up to an Xbox 360 controller like tension. I loved the feel of the 360 sticks I now have both the sticks set to this stiffer setting. It’s like 2005 all over again.
Other changes include improved rubber grips that now wrap around the handle of the controller. They feel great but time will tell how the rubber holds up, as the rubber on the original Elite can wear down. An internal battery is now present on the controller. This was a very controversial change as players liked the ability to swap the rechargeable battery in case it started to lose some of its charge. In a recent Youtube video, Microsoft stated the reason for this change was to allow more room when designing the controller. Having a removable piece to the controller takes up space and every millimeter inside any piece of hardware matters. I understand the change and honestly don’t mind it. I also enjoy the ability to swap between 3 different profiles instead of 2. You can see which profile you have the controller set to by looking at how many lights are on. 1 light means slot 1. 2 means slot 2 and so on. It’s a very nice feature as I do find myself switching between my shooter profile and my action games profile. The USB-C port on the front of the controller is great and shows that the future of Xbox products and controllers will probably have a USB-C port on them. Don’t be shocked if your Play and Charge kit doesn’t work on the next gen Scarlett controllers as I doubt Microsoft will continue to use the outdated Micro USB cable.
The Elite Series 2 comes with an updated case for all the controller’s accessories and a charging cradle. When placed into the case, the charging cradle can charge lines up with a hole in front of the case and the USB-C cable will plug directly into it. Charging the controller while its sitting inside the case it a nice feature. A magnet keeps the controller in place. The battery life in the Elite series 2 held up well. After over 2 weeks the light on the controller turned orange telling me it was time to recharge.
In terms of the experience I had playing ACTUAL games instead of just gawking at the design, I spent a lot of time in one of my favourite Battle Royale games, and I noticed the controller helps me to utilize its tools and customization and allows me to be a better player. I aim a bit better and I feel my gameplay is smoother and more fluid. Even if its for a fraction of a second better, that makes all the difference in a tense battle with another team, or a nice sniper shot to knock someone’s shields down. In Halo I felt I can steady my Battle Rifle aiming and get the headshots I so desire. Moving with ease and fluidity around the environment was nice and I felt like I have the upper hand.
Overall the Elite Series 2 is a great controller, with amazing customization. Should you buy it? It really depends on how seriously you take your gaming. Do you want to participate in tournaments? Or want to be the best of the best no matter what? Or a content creator who wants to have the smoothest gameplay possible? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, my advice is go out there and buy this controller. If not, Microsoft has many other options for controllers that I’m sure would take your fancy. But for now, the Elite Series 2 once again proves that when it comes to controllers, Microsoft is leading the pack with an amazing design and a fantastic feature set.
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