Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 Review — The Best Controller Ever Keeps Getting Better
Microsoft's Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 improves on everything from the original model and is absolutely worth snagging if you have the funds.
When I got my original Xbox Elite Controller back in 2015, it immediately became my favorite controller that I had ever used. The level of customization, the high-quality build, and overall sleekness of the controller made it a joy to use and actually swayed me into playing games on my Xbox One more than other platforms. Until recently, it was still the main controller I used on both my PC and Xbox, although it had definitely started to see some wear and tear.
Now, four years later, Microsoft has come out with a second iteration of the Elite Controller that has improved the device in every discernible way. It might cost you an arm and a leg to pick up, much like the first model did, but if you’re in the market for a premium gaming controller then Microsoft has once again set the standard for controllers that are available today.
The Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 is the ultimate quality of life gaming accessory. The changes that Microsoft has implemented in the premium controller this time around aren’t vastly different from what was already seen with the Series 1 model, but the upgrades found in the Series 2 controller drastically improve the overall product. The advent of additional controller profiles, three hair-trigger settings, and a USB-C charging port are simple ones on paper, but the more I’ve used the Elite Series 2 controller over the past week or so, the more I’ve come to greatly appreciate these small upgrades on the device even more.
By far my favorite aspect of the Elite Series 2 controller is that it just feels so much sturdier this time around. The Series 1 device didn’t feel cheap by any means whatsoever. In fact, compared to just about every other controller on the market (Xbox or otherwise), the Series 1 Elite model was incredibly well put together. That said, the longer I used the Series 1 model, the more rundown it started to feel. It also didn’t help that one of my dumb friends dropped the controller on the ground and permanently damaged one of my thumbsticks.
The Elite Series 2 controller, by comparison, feels like I could spike it into the ground as hard as can be and it’d still be fine. Every aspect of this iteration of the controller just feels heftier and more well-built compared to the previous model. The parts that make it up just feel more costly and sturdy than the original.
This especially is true with the thumbsticks, which are likely the biggest single upgrade that the controller has seen. Thanks to a screwdriver-like device that comes with the kit, you can change the tension on the thumbsticks to better fit your own comfort level, or instead change it to benefit you with a certain type of game you might be playing. Prefer your thumbsticks to be a bit looser when you’re playing shooters? You can now make that adjustment.
The rechargeable battery has also proven to be a great added benefit to the controller. One of my biggest annoyances with the standard model of Xbox One controllers is that they still run off of AA batteries. If you want rechargeable batteries, you have to buy them separately. While I know that the reason for doing this is to ensure that the controller itself wouldn’t be essentially bricked if the internal batteries burned out, I still will always prefer rechargeable batteries in my controllers.
In addition, the Elite Series 2 bundle comes with a rechargeable stand that you can place the controller on once you’re done playing. At the end of the day, this isn’t anything unfounded or insane to include in this package, but it’s definitely a nice bonus overall. It also fits nice and neatly into the controller case that the Elite Series 2 iteration comes in.
As for other small features that I love in this revision, the expanded rubber grips are a lifesaver. If your hands have the tendency to get sweaty while playing, especially during long gaming sessions, then the added frontside rubber grips will be great for you. The rubber grips were a simple feature in the original Elite Controller back in 2015, but they have proven themselves to be my favorite feature over the long haul. Based on my time with the new version, they’re proving to be one of the more worthwhile improvements.
I feel the need to touch on the pricepoint in this review because I assume it’ll be a huge determining factor for many who are interested in picking the controller up. The Elite Controller Series 2 comes in at a staggering $179.99 value, which isn’t cheap by any means. You could practically buy an Xbox One itself for that price nowadays and maybe even get a free game or two with it as well. All in all, if you’re looking to purchase the Elite Controller Series 2, you need to be ready to drop some serious money. Is that price worth what you’re getting here? That’s a decision for you to make depending on your own monetary situation, but I surely can verify that the product you’re getting in return is of extremely high quality.
I think one of the best aspects of the Elite Series 2 controller is that if you do decide to spend the money and pick it up for yourself, it will be able to make the transition with you next year assuming you pick up Microsoft’s next-gen Project Scarlett console. Phil Spencer himself has even said that he’s playing his own Project Scarlett console at his home and is using his Elite Series 2 controller with it. So if you do end up picking this up, it will not have as short of a shelf life as you might initially think with the next-gen console launch coming in 2020.
And if you have the Elite Series 1 model of this controller already, should you make the upgrade? Honestly, even though I love all of the improvements here with the second model, I’d lean towards no. As long as your Series 1 controller still feels solid and doesn’t have any noticeable flaws, I think the first model is still a wonderful controller that you can probably continue to use well into the future.
To me, the Elite Series 1 Xbox controller was already perhaps the best video game controller ever made. Considering the second model is essentially that same controller just improved in pretty much every single way, we have a new king of the controllers here with the Elite Series 2 model. My brief time using this controller has been an absolute joy and has continued to remind me of how vital it is to have a nice one at your fingertips, especially for extended gaming sessions. It’s a product that I absolutely cannot recommend enough, as long as you have the money to spend on it.