On the occasion of E3 2019, Microsoft announced a new gamepad for the most demanding, the Elite Series 2. Worthy heir to the first version released in late 2015, this controller both wired (USB Type-C) , Xbox Wireless and – finally! – Bluetooth is clearly inspired by his elder. So much so that it takes all the ingredients, while promising to sublimate the recipe.
According to Microsoft, the grip will be improved, more customization features and the addition of an additional command profile (four in all available) should offer him even more versatility.
Finally, from now on, it is a built-in battery that is responsible for powering the controller and no longer two conventional AA batteries. A charging base therefore weighs down the cover in which the Elite 2 rests, similar to a jewel in its case.
We first compared the two generations of Microsoft controllers to then focus on the brand new model. Note that the Elite Series 2 is now marketed at around 180 euros, or 30 euros more than the first model, on the Microsoft site but also in several specialty stores.
Let's go four ways. The Microsoft Elite Series 2 is an excellent joystick for both the Xbox One and the PC. It is not without flaws, but all its qualities and improvements eclipse most of the blame we are going to give it.
Let's start with the grip. The Series 2 is heavier than the first model, battery integration requires (instead of batteries). However, the weight is better distributed over the entire plastic case, the balance is more harmonious. The controller is less likely to sting when not held firmly enough or play, leaning forwards, elbows resting on the thighs, the controller in front of you.
Between the two versions (as shown in the picture above), Microsoft has evolved the coating. Thus, the rubber grip quality a little average found only under the horns of the first model is now of much better quality and present above, below and on the sides. The coating with the peach skin feel is on its side thicker (but still marks a little) and covers the rest of the controller. Note that the 3.5 mm jack is still present on the controller wafer, as the Microsoft proprietary jack that allows you to connect the Xbox Stereo headset and its remote control, for example.
Regarding the number of buttons, no change either. We find the two front joysticks, whose magnetic head continues to be removable and can be swapped against one of the 6 provided in the bag. It would be appreciated that Microsoft pushes the customization further by offering to play also on the height of the joystick. Here's an idea for the future Series 3!
The multi-directional cross always responds to the call and continues to decline in two forms: hollow and faceted (as in the photo above) or in its classic features. A third model would have been welcome, especially considering the price asked by Microsoft.
The four front buttons, the two "bumpers" on the rear edge and the two triggers also respond to the call. Just as the set of four pucks (P1, P2, P3 and P4) located under the body of the paddle and accessible from the end of the major and annular of each hand.
These elements are always made of satin metal and their use remains optional. They must be inserted in the spaces provided for this purpose. As they are magnetized, even shaking the paddle vigorously, you will not dislodge them.
What you will learn
Important mechanical changes
The technical novelties are to look, first, on the side of the keys. Almost all have been improved, starting with joysticks. They are naturally a little harder and their resistance can be increased by two notches. Simply remove the head and catch the small tool in the bag. To adjust the hardness of the race, you must finally turn the small screw hidden in the axis.
Be careful, do not expect to feel a huge difference. It will be especially noticeable through use. Fans of racing, simulation, shooting or fighting games will appreciate. This makes it possible to be more precise, to better control the amplitude of the commands carried out with the tips of the thumbs.
Now let's move on to the front buttons A, B, X and Y. They do not use the same mechanism as the Elite Series 1 or the traditional Xbox paddles. They do not sink the same way into the body of the controller and have a more frank action. The reactivity is thus improved.
Again, this is noticeable only if you have the opportunity to have both joysticks on hand and move from one to the other. But after a few hours of play, you can not go back to a controller who does not offer that kind of feeling.
The rear triggers can now offer three types of racing, versus two on the Elite 1 (and only one on a classic paddle). It is acted on by pushing or pulling the small switches hidden under the controller. The ultra-short race is great for FPS-type games, when you want to hit the shot with your weapon, or shoot short bursts. The intermediate race is suitable for all games and is ideal for you not to be lost when you grab the controller for the first time.
The last notch, the one that offers the longest race, we reserve more for motorists or virtual motorcycles. Even lovers of gliding of all kinds. In Forza Horizon 4 or Motorsport 7the long stroke makes it possible, for example, to better manage the level of acceleration and braking of the vehicle. We also found that this type of adjustment was quite suitable for games in which to keep a finger on the trigger for a longer or shorter time to fill a gauge (magic power, special attack, etc.).
A controller with sharpened pucks
Last mechanical elements having evolved, the palets. The longer models are less than those of the previous model as can be seen in the photo above. Their curve also differs very slightly, there is no longer a small notch and it is not an evil. This did not improve the grip of this element in the heat of the moment. A change that we also see on the two smaller palets.
As a reminder, the four keys have as their first goal to serve as a relay to the buttons A, B, X and Y. FPS players will see the benefit immediately. You do not have to use the right thumb to get the front buttons. You can keep it on the joystick and use the middle finger and / or the ring finger that rests (s) on the pucks to launch the desired actions (open a menu, change weapons, etc.). By default, B = P1, Y = P2, A = P3 and X = P4.
It is however possible to change the assignment of orders as desired. This requires the optional application that also allows to exploit the internal memory of the controller.
The app is highly recommended
This App – Xbox Accessories – for Windows 10 (version 1903 minimum) or Xbox can be downloaded from the Microsoft store. Do not be surprised if updates to the controller are to be done, it can happen, as with the classic paddles.
The interface of the app is clear, so it is very easy to navigate. You'll be able to adjust everything from the knob to the response curve of the joysticks and even change the "dead zone" of the triggers. Make sure that one of the programmable buttons on the controller acts as the "Shift" key on the keyboard. Thus, by holding it down and pressing another, you will trigger a second action. A button, two functions … gymnastics that can be complicated at first but that is proving terribly effective once mastered.
An example ? Imagine that the A button is used to jump in your game and that you want to use it also to lower you (while keeping its initial function of Jumping). If you assign the Shift function to the P2 puck, then just tell the pilot that when the P2 puck is pressed and you press the A key, your character must stoop. When you release the puck, and you just press A, it jumps.
Note: If you connect the Bluetooth controller to a PC, the app will not work. This requires that the Elite 2 is connected to the PC with the cable. On console, no restrictions. In wireless or wired mode, the settings work. Better, additional options are available on Xbox One. You can associate a puck with taking a screenshot or launching a game sequence record.
Note also that to customize all settings, create or edit profiles, it is mandatory to connect to a valid Microsoft account. It is to him that the settings will be associated. They will be imported into the Cloud automatically and will be able to be modified from any PC or console equipped with the app as long as you identify yourself.
Three profiles in memory and in the cloud
The Elite Series 2 controller sees its brain abilities increase. The first model offered two custom settings, to be activated by sliding a small button between two positions. the new one offers 4 or more exactly 3 + 1. It is actually possible to store three particular key settings and to call them by pressing the central button.
Depending on the number of pressures exerted, the small LEDs come on. They tell you what profile is at work. And, to return to the standard setting, it is enough either to press the central button four times or, simply, to hold it down until the small LEDs go out.
Finally, let's specify that it is possible to create a lot of profiles and host them on your PC. You can then import them on the controller, depending on your needs and your possible trips to the outdoors, with friends.
To recharge but not too often
If you are using the controller in wireless / Bluetooth mode, expect to charge it every 30 hours or so. To do this, you can connect it directly to the console / PC via the supplied USB / USB Type-C cable (2.7 meters) or by placing it on the charging base. It also connects to Type-C.
When the base rests inside the protective cover, the fact that it is magnetized allows it not to hit the handle during transport.
Leaving the base in the carrying case has an advantage. You can reload the controller without even taking it out of the case. Microsoft had the great idea of opening an opening at the back of it, protected by a thick silicone device that gives direct access to the USB Type-C (see photo below).
Too late, too expensive
As we said in the introduction, if we were conquered by the Microsoft Elite Series 2 controller, we remain aware of its flaws. The main one being his late arrival on the market. Microsoft has taken its time, that's fine, but the next generation of consoles is almost there. Even though the current controllers of the Xbox One are supposed to be compatible with the Scarlett Project, it's a safe bet that Redmond is designing new controllers for its next console. Joysticks that will benefit from improvements or features that could be lacking at Elite 2.
The second complaint we could make against this controller is its high price. Microsoft was marketing the first generation at 150 euros, three times the price of a classic controller. This adds 30 euros on the bill. This is a lot and it should not facilitate its adoption by gamers when it deserves undeniably.