The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller is a feature packed gamepad at a surprisingly low price. From what we already know about the Elite controller, it is bringing more to the table while being priced significantly under the competition- by up to $100. We have already compared the Elite controller to other popular modded units, but now even more details have come to light thanks to Larry Hyrb aka Major Nelson. In an interview on Major Nelson Radio podcast ep. 547, Larry and his co-hosts glean a few of the finer points from David Prien, Xbox Sr. Development Program Manager. Here are the nine things you may not have already known about the Elite controller.
We already knew that the Xbox Elite controller is being made with some steel components. So using a magnet to retain the alternate thumbsticks or back paddles seems logical, right? (1) Well, these magnetic capabilities are for guidance and alignment purposes, not retention. Both the paddles and the thumbsticks utilize undercuts and interlocking geometry to stay attached. In fact, just simply wiggling the thumbsticks while seating causes them to grab on tighter. (2) Also the paddles are fully interchangeable, allowing you to put a paddle in any other position to further enhance customization.
Those are not the only physical changes to the controller though. Featured on both the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller and the newly redesigned Xbox One controller, the bumpers are going back to their roots. (3) Similar to the Xbox 360 controller, the bumpers will now work no matter where you push them. Doing away with the "click" style bumper which has a specific area you must press, the entire bumper will now work as a button. Also featured on both gamepads is the 3.5mm headphone jack for easier headset connectivity.
Fearful of pressing the paddles on the back of the controller accidentally? Fortunately Microsoft already thought about this, and has added a quick disable function. (4) Simply double tap the the binding button to disable the paddles, and a one-second vibration lets you know they are off. This allows you to safely set the controller down without fear of pushing any buttons. Double tapping the sync button again re-enables the paddles, with four quick vibrations to signal they are back on.
The addition of hair triggers are going to change how you play games. But sometimes a full trigger pull is necessary depending on the games you play. For instance, only going halfway with your trigger would make you pretty slow in a racing game. (5) With the controller software, you can set the trigger sensitivity to turn a hair trigger into a full pull. You might think this makes finessing your speed more difficult, but for instances where full travel is needed there is a solution. Custom dead zones and more help you tune your triggers to just how you like them.
Really customizing your sensitivities is a key feature of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller. In our previous article, we speculated if the X and Y axis would be independently adjustable. (6) Fortunately you can fine-tune both X and Y, but it goes deeper than just changing a flat value. (7) You can also "shape" your sensitivity, allowing you to curve your sensitivity depending on the distance you move your thumbstick. Some snipers like a lower sensitivity to help them line up that perfect headshot. Unfortunately that leaves you susceptible to getting flanked and attacked from behind because you cannot spin around quick enough. With a custom sensitivity "shape" you can keep the first 3/4 of your thumbstick movement tight, but the outer most 1/4 could have a higher value that lets you whip the camera around quickly. If this all sounds too much for you, Microsoft is working on providing you with presets for different genres as well as game specific ones. (8) Even more, you can keep up to 255 configurations in the software so you never lose your custom layouts.
Apparently no two USB cables are created the same. When you hear the words "USB cable with ferrite beads" you might conjure an image of clunky, plastic coated nodes near the end of the cable. While practical in their emission controlling features, they can be both unsightly and cumbersome. (9) The packed-in USB cable has ferrites built into the connection, meaning no more chunky plastic pieces by the connector on the wire.
Does the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller sound like a good deal? Or is it just too much for a controller? Let us know what you think! Thanks for the great interview on Major Nelson Radio, if you wish to hear the podcast in its entirety, follow this link.