Up until this last month, I really thought the Xbox Elite Controller was overrated. I thought it was a silly little novelty that, ultimately, was for people who wanted to splash some cash and have something posh. How wrong I was.
I didn’t even end up keeping my ‘series 1’ Xbox Elite Controller. I used it for a while, but ultimately found that I wasn’t using the additions and tweaks that made the peripheral special. I gave it away after not using it for months. The paddles were cool, but used to fall off the back of the controller too easily. The upgraded triggers were nice, but nothing to write home about, at least in the games I was actively playing at that time.
While I never clicked with the Elite Controller, I’m also a mug with a lot of nostalgia for the golden age of the Halo series, particularly the fever-pitch hype around Halo 3. So when Xbox revealed a limited edition Halo Infinite themed Elite controller… I ordered it. Even as I punched in my credit card details, I felt like an idiot - I’d already had one of these controllers and got rid of it, so why was I buying another? Now I’ve been playing with it, though - boy am I glad I did./p>
Perhaps it’s due to Halo Infinite itself. Perhaps it’s due to the improvements made to the Elite controller’s ‘series 2’ variation, which has supposedly been improved in every way over the original. In truth, I feel it’s a mix of the two. The end result is the same, though: this controller now works for me and has become my primary controller on both Xbox and PC.
The paddles on the back no longer fall off if your fingers brush them in the wrong way. It comes with more accessories to swap out to customize your experience. It’s now got a 40-hour internal battery rather than using pesky old double-As. It even has all-new features like thumbstick tension control and an extra stage on the trigger locks. So, yes, the Series 2 is better in every way.
But also: if any game feels designed for this controller - or rather, if this controller feels designed for any game - it’s Halo. When I had the last Elite controller I was in something of an ‘off’ period with Halo, but now I’m neck-deep in an Infinite obsession, I can truly see the value of a controller like this, particularly in the configurable rear paddle buttons, where you can now jump or reload without taking a thumb of the sticks.
I was into other competitive shooters at the time that I had my first Elite, but none of them felt as good with it as Infinite does with one. Using the paddles has become such a reflex that when I sat down with a different controller to play some multiplayer the other day, I was immediately measurably worse. The Elite has become my new default.
So, here I am, putting my mea culpa into writing. I badmouthed the Elite Controller in the past, calling it a waste of money based on my sometimes-frustrating, never-transformative experience with its first iteration. But in its second form, I get it. I’m on board, despite the expense. Has it actually made me any better at Halo? I’m not so sure. But it definitely feels better in the hands.