Xbox Elite controllers need better durability

Ever since Microsoft introduced its Elite controllers in 2015, hardcore gamers have been excited to try out Microsoft’s first attempt at making high-end controllers to rival Scuf. It was very promising with the features it offered.

Controller players received four paddles, a carrying case, adjustable thumbsticks, mappable profiles, the ability to map any button on another, and more quality of life features. It was unheard of at the time and its price was only $150. The price might seem high for the casual or average gamer, but Scuf didn’t offer anything like what the first Elite controller did at the time.

The most advanced controller in the world?

The Elite Series 1 seemed like the perfect controller for Xbox fans, but sadly, it wasn’t. The controller encountered quality control issues. There have been reports of people having issues like stick drifting, broken bumpers, thumb sticking, grips peeling off, etc. since its creation.

Video credit: Crowbcat.

This caused a blemished image of the Elite controller if one researches various gamers’ experiences with them. When Microsoft started releasing its second installment, fans thought they would fix the problems of the first.

That was not the case either. Similar issues have also been reported since the first one. This once again upset many Xbox fans and controller fanatics when the issues started to spread across internet posts.

The issues would lead to a point where Microsoft was being sued over its Elite controllers in October 2020.

With all that mentioned, it’s time to get to the heart of the matter: Elite controllers need to be more durable.

My personal experiences

As someone who used the original Elite series, mine has definitely been beaten by all the wear and tear. It is certainly still usable, but it is in an inconsistent state.

I haven’t owned an Elite controller since day one. I bought a used one in April-May 2021 because I was interested in trying a premium controller since I had never tried one before.

The controller I purchased was in the best condition at the time and was reasonably priced on the used market. When it arrived to me it lived up to its description for the most part.

There were some dodgy things like the seller didn’t tell me the buttons were sticky and the d-pad on the bottom was broken. The buttons eventually became less sticky after heavy gaming sessions and the low d-pad was something I didn’t mind as I could map it to a paddle.

Games like Halo 5 really benefit from the Elite controller.

Games like Halo 5 really benefit from the Elite controller.

While using my Elite controller while it was still in great shape, I loved every bit of it. The paddles were very cool and I loved their customization.

This is definitely a great feature for shooters because you don’t have to take your thumbs off the stick, giving you better control. For some games I’ll use two or three of them, and I loved how easy it was to adjust them.

The adjustable joystick was also a fun feature. Personally, I like the mid-length dome stick for the left thumb. For the right controller, I mostly prefer the standard Xbox controller. Sometimes I use the long stick for the right if I’m playing a game that might require more long range shots, which I think the long stick helps because it has more leverage.

My very own personal Elite Controller for your viewing pleasure.

My very own personal Elite Controller for your viewing pleasure.

The Elite controller experience was fantastic. Until the problems started happening and I went from fan to critic.

You want to love it, but you want to hate it…

My left bumper is definitely broken after using it too many times. Not because I was pressing too hard on it, but it just decided to snap one day when I was playing Eternal destiny.

I decided not to glue it because even though the bumper was broken it still worked pretty well but the problem just got worse. Eventually, the recording began to deteriorate; I had to press harder for it to register.

The Gears of War 4 edition is highly sought after by collectors.

The Gears of War 4 edition is highly sought after by collectors.

Another thing is that it started having a double check in at times which basically made my left bumper unusable for Eternal destiny. Not only that, sometimes I also get a registration failure. For any games that require me to use the left bumper a lot, I have to map it to a paddle.

I have also started to develop stick drift as I play with the controller. The problem is very inconsistent. Sometimes my controller starts drifting wildly and it makes shooters unplayable, but sometimes the drift goes away randomly.

I found a weird technique by just blowing into the right thumbstick, and it seems the drift reduces its appearance considerably. However, this is not a perfect solution to the problem.

I also came across the infamous peel handles. There have been numerous reports of people saying the Elite 1’s grips are poorly made. My left hand tends to sweat intensely after long gaming sessions and it is no longer intact on the left side.

The right side of the grip is still very firm, but that’s because my right hand barely sweats. A recent issue that is starting to bother me is left d-pad registration. It’s getting worse.

Video credit: My buddy VINCE.

When I first received the controller, I remembered that it had extremely smooth recording. I could touch with little force, it would record easily. This is no longer the case; I have to press firmly.

I can no longer use the disc-shaped d-pad module to play games that require me to press the left d-pad often. It’s just too hard to get it to register when you press it hard. The standard d-pad is usually the optimal configuration.

As you can see, my Elite controller is still usable in some ways. Although it is usable, it is very disappointing to see a controller priced higher than a stock controller having so many issues.

I still have my original Xbox One controller from 2015, and it still works. It doesn’t look too good because it’s had a lot of wear and tear, but its functionality is better than my Elite 1.

The PowerA Fusion Pro 2 could be a good alternative to the Elite controller.

The PowerA Fusion Pro 2 could be a good alternative to the Elite controller.

Did the Elite Series 2 kernel fix the issues?

Microsoft recently released its Elite Series 2 core controllers. One thing that’s remarkable about this latest installment in the Series 2 family is that it simply offers the controller on its own.

It’s a dead giveaway on how well aware Microsoft is of the quality control of its Elite series. The Elite 2 Core is basically designed to replace faulty Series 2 units.

Microsoft promised that the Core variants would be better in terms of build quality. Unfortunately, there have already been reports of people noticing issues with the latest episode of Elite Series 2.

This is what the Elite 2 Core looks like.

This is what the Elite 2 Core looks like.

YouTuber 9to5Toys mentioned at 4:45 in his Elite Series 2 core review video that he was having issues with the A and Y buttons not registering properly.

This whole quality control issue is simply unacceptable. I love the Elite controller experience. I think Microsoft explained what it means to have a premium controller experience.

But durability is the most important thing for these products. I can’t believe the Elite controllers haven’t gotten any improvements in longevity.

A Few Last Words…

Microsoft has yet to announce an Elite Series 3 down the line, but I think everyone is aware that the next era of the Elite controller is coming soon. The Elite Series 3 cannot repeat the same problems as the first two versions.

The controller should be more durable and gamers should not face controller issues months later. These controllers are expensive and deserve better build quality. We are all still waiting for the perfect experience from Microsoft’s Xbox Elite controller.