Microsoft Announces Xbox One Elite Controller for Windows 10

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 17, 2015 - 10:24 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, xbox, Steam Controller, microsoft, E3 2015, E3 15, E3, controller

And, of course, Xbox One... but I can assume who is the bulk of my audience.

Microsoft announced the Xbox One Elite Controller at E3, which includes support for Windows 10. This is part of their initiative to amend relations with the PC gaming industry. They seem to be going about it by focusing on the high-end gamer first. If not, then I wonder why they chose a $150 controller as a leading product.

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At that price, you could literally purchase three Steam Controllers from Valve instead of a single one of these, but whether you should... depends. In all honesty, I might end up purchasing both and doing a comparison between them over a variety of games. Of course, my primary input device is the mouse and keyboard for most games, but I occasionally add an early model Xbox 360 wired controller to the mix for Saint's Row, Grand Theft Auto, NASCAR 2003, and a few other titles.

The real disappointment is its D-Pad, though. It just cannot reliably send a single direction without sometimes accidentally sending others. This gets worse in games that are styled in the “8-bit” and “16-bit” era. I actually need to play most of those on a keyboard, which is a terrible experience. Valve's implementation looks interesting with the cross-shaped thumbpad, but Microsoft's new version has options: an old-fashioned cross as well as a nine-sectioned cup, called a “faceted D-pad”.

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That leads into the main design of Microsoft's controller: customization. Two switches on the back of the controller allow the range of trigger motion to be limited on the fly. This is designed for games like Grand Theft Auto, where the player wants precise control over throttle and brake, but would prefer to rapidly max-out the trigger as fast as possible when shooting a weapon. With this controller, you flip the switch when you leave the car and, what normally would be some fraction of its range, would be considered “bottoming out” and it would apparently even physically stop the trigger from pushing in further. According to the website, the threshold is user-customizable. I did not use it personally because I wasn't at E3.

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Like Valve's controller, it has optional rear paddles near the grips. They are stainless steel apparently, and can be used to compensate for weird button combinations by mapping them to fingers that normally just clutch the device itself. In Valve's version, there is just two while Microsoft's allows for up to four. Microsoft also allows you to detach them, rather than just disable them.

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This is when we get to software customization. Valve claims that the Steam Controller can be bound to many events across mouse, keyboard, and gamepad buttons and axises. Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to be keeping within the range of buttons found on a standard Xbox One controller. This is concerning to me because it means that extended inputs will be redundant, which is fine for an Xbox One game but could be annoying for a PC title that has many independent, simpler commands. This might be a limitation of XINPUT, which supposedly cannot address more than 10 buttons. I thought I remembered that limit being extended, but that seems to be true even in the MSDN documentation. Even still, the driver could address the extra functions as a secondary virtual device (keyboards, etc.) but Microsoft doesn't seem to want to. As a final note, Valve also allows the end of both triggers to be considered a clicky button, while Microsoft just recognizes it as a bottomed-out axis.

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The Xbox One Elite Controller will ship in October for $149.99. A wireless adapter for the PC will not be required if you use the included USB Micro cable, but add that to the price if you want it wireless. Add batteries on top of that, because it takes AA. They include a pair of disposable AA, but that is obviously not a permanent solution.

June 17, 2015 | 10:39 PM - Posted by LazyLizard

Man that price this thing just isn't for me, maybe if it came with the wireless pc receiver....maybe.

June 17, 2015 | 10:41 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I like that Microsoft is focusing on gamers again. I was beginning to feel unimportant! Hopefully the price of this thing will come down considering the stiff competition from Valve. Nice write-up!

June 17, 2015 | 11:03 PM - Posted by highhbrid

I paid $160 for a Scuf about 3 or 4 years ago. The damn analog stick broke on mine 3 months into using it. It was out of the warranty period and I had a god-awful back and forth with Scuf. I couldn't even get them on the phone for 2 weeks straight so that I could send it in. Needless to say, it still sits in my closet somewhere, still broken.

I don't play consoles anymore but if you're serious about your online gaming then trust me when I say it: people will pay this much for a controller.

If you're a hardcore player and you don't already have an aftermarket controller then you're probably going to buy this. The moral of the story is, fuck expensive third party accessories.

At least you don't have to worry about Microsoft not upholding a hardware warranty.

June 18, 2015 | 04:17 AM - Posted by collie

#1 It's well established I'm more of a "Almost Functional" Rather than a "Average consumer"

I love using a controller, I just use kb/mouse for online shit where I want to be poned for my shittyness not for my input device. When I play every non online game I use a x-bone-36 pad.

THIS PAD. This pad looks like the pad I want to have.

June 18, 2015 | 04:23 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

150? That's way too expensive.

June 18, 2015 | 04:31 AM - Posted by lantian (not verified)

ROFL, just shows that they have no idea of what people actually want even with pc they are trying but focusing on completely wrong aspects no one cares about(rofl xbox streaming)and now this, a 150 dollar controller GTFO

June 18, 2015 | 10:54 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This is for made for the XBOX ONE and not for PC, just happens to be compatible. Also Michaud stop being a turd... nobody is buying this to play 8 or 16 bit games you dope. People who buy these are usually competitive gamers playing call of duty or halo not super meatboy.

June 18, 2015 | 04:13 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

I'm considering buying it because of the D-Pad, actually.

June 18, 2015 | 09:32 PM - Posted by Venn Stone (not verified)

"competitive gamers playing call of duty or halo"

Ah, the auto-aim competition.

June 19, 2015 | 12:50 AM - Posted by Branthog

How about they fix their ORIGINAL XB1 controller that has a history of having the thumbsticks break and stop centering? They have a whopping 90 fucking day warranty and after that, fuck you, sucker!

And they think I'm going to risk $150 on one of these pieces of shit? Hell no.

June 19, 2015 | 06:54 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

FSXKING xinput! And I bet if it even has a directinput fallback mode, it will do something moronic (like the 360 controller setting the shoulder triggers as a single differential axis, so you CANNOT detect both shoulder triggers pulled at once using directinput).

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