Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2: Accessibility Review


The unit used in this review was supplied by Microsoft at no cost to the reviewer.


Having used the Gears Of War 4 Elite Controller and enjoyed my time with the other elite controller variants in spite of issues I had around the time of the product's launch several years ago, I was definitely interested when the initial leaks of the next iteration of the product started to appear on gaming news sites.

That being said, it wasn't until E3 2019 when the Elite Series 2 (hereafter referred to as the Elite V2) was officially revealed with a November release date. At Gamescom, I had the opportunity to get hands-on with this new controller pre-launch and what I saw definitely piqued my interest with the new features that had been revealed being easy to work with on the show floor.

The controller is now available to buy, but before you decide whether it's right for you, here's my review of the unit as a gamer without sight.


The first thing you'll notice when looking around the box is that instead of being secured via the almost trademark adhesive circles you might associate with Microsoft products, they've been replaced by adhesive rectangles, both keeping the bottom and top sections of the box in place. If you use the hanger as a reference point for the top of the box, you will find one nearby and the other on the opposing face of the box.

They can be removed the same way as their previous counterparts, either by cutting carefully with a blade or removing them with a fingernail. In the case of this review, running a fingernail in the thin gap actually broke the seal.

With that done, accessing the inside of the package is as simple as lifting the section of the box with the hanger carefully upwards and away. I suggest having the box on a soft surface whilst doing this and, holding the top section in both hands, lift it until the bottom of the box slowly moves downwards and eventually releases from the top.

The Contents Of The Box

Inside the box, much like the Gears Of War 4 Elite Controller I previously reviewed, you'll find the case that holds pretty much everything, the top embossed with a printed Xbox logo this time rather than a Lancer. Fortunately, though the logo is printed, it is definitely tactile enough that you can feel it, even if the texture is a little less of a stand-out feature.

Lift the controller case free with both hands and it should come away easily, revealing a hole in the cardboard holder underneath. Use this hole to lift the now unnecessary cardboard free as well.

The cardboard holder lifts away to reveal, firstly, a long rectangular box for the USB C cable, with flaps open at both edges. Putting a finger through one of these should allow you to poke the cable free.

There is also a glossy card folder of sorts which can be opened by carefully sliding the oblong tab towards you and upwards, though this did prove a little complicated. The folder contains information on the elite V2's features, safety and regulatory information and a 14-day Xbox Game Pass Ultimate code, all in print.

Charging the Elite Controller

The included USB C cable, which is very tightly tied when you first extract it, is designed to charge the cable and allow it to act as a wired controller. However, you don't actually have to open up the case for it to work. I thought I'd test this aspect first as I wanted to try using the controller wirelessly and see how long the battery lasted.

Look around on the back of the elite controller's case and you'll find a rubber seal. Lift this up to reveal the USB C port on the back of the charging stand for the Elite that comes as part of the case. Plug the USB C cable in and you should be good to go, though, in my case, Windows gave no notification as to any charging occurring in the first place.

After waiting a while and seeing no notification, as well as not wanting to have no charge in my controller when I started testing it due to an unintentional error, I decided to plug the cable directly into the controller, which then delivered the USB device connected sound as you might expect.

What's in the case

Once you've opened the case using the single zip, extracting the controller is a simple process of just lifting it off of its magnetic charging dock. Speaking of the dock, when looking at it for the first time, you'll notice it is somewhat inexplicably covered with a soft layer of material. Even though this rather soft layer looks like it needs to stay on the dock, it in fact prevents it from charging, explaining the issue I'd experienced previously

The material can be carefully removed by folding it between a thumb and finger and pulling it gently away from the dock, leaving behind no trace that it was ever stuck there with adhesive in the first place. From this point forward, should you wish to charge the controller, using the dock in the case is now an option.

Inside the case, much like the previous model, you'll find a number of parts, including differently shaped thumbstick tops, and a more standard D-pad as opposed to the circular one that comes on the controller by default.

You'll also find something that, at first, might look like a paddle for the controller, but is actually, once lifted free, a small circular object with a point on one side. This is the thumbstick adjustment tool, which I'll cover later in this review.

About The Battery

If you're unfamiliar with the features of the Elite V2, you might be wondering why I haven't used a rechargeable battery pack or similar to get up and running as soon as possible. That's because the controller actually has its own internal battery, said to last 40 hours on a single charge.

Controller Description

The controller itself much resembles not only a standard Xbox controller save for a few key differences, but also the first generation of Elite controllers. The face buttons, D-pad, shoulder buttons, triggers and thumbsticks as well as the view and menu button are all where you'd think they would be on a default controller. However, this controller also has 4 paddles on the back (two small ones and two larger ones) that can be mapped to buttons on the controller providing alternative inputs. The end result is large amounts of customisability, given that you can also switch profiles with the profile selector, which now takes the form of a button rather than a switch, on the top of the controller between the thumbsticks.

Gripping the controller is improved thanks to an all-round rubber texture meaning that, all being well, your controller should never slip out of your hands again. Much like the Kait Diaz Gears 5 controller that comes with the Gears 5 Limited Edition Xbox One X and is also available separately, the triggers are also lightly textured, making your gaming experience just a little less prone to sliding.

The controller is well-weighted and feels very solid, certainly a testament to the amount of time and effort the folks at Microsoft have put into to improving on their previous efforts.


When I first turned on the Xbox, the console recognised that I had used an original Elite controller and asked me if I wanted to copy my profiles. Opting to do so presented me with no issues and I was able to tweak existing profiles to match with Gears 5, a game that I've been playing large amounts both in and out of this review.

Playing Gears 5 with this new hardware was, unsurprisingly, a very smooth experience. Once I'd mapped everything to my liking, specifically triggers to the shorter paddles and bumpers to the longer ones, I found I could almost entirely eliminate their physical counterparts from my routine after a little practice.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PC, via the Xbox Wireless Adaptor for Windows 10, also worked very well and responded smoothly whether using paddles or the triggers to aim and shoot. I found that having the trigger locks on full, as opposed to medium certainly made shooting less taxing, though it did feel rather unusual having so little travel having been used to the way triggers work on standard controllers for so long.

I also experimented with different thumbstick tensions and, though I still need to play more titles with this controller, it definitely has the potential to improve your experience if you're having trouble with, say, turning slightly too much in shooters.

Adjusting Thumbstick Tension

The thumbstick Adjustment Tool referred to previously has a point on the end. By gently removing the top of one or both of the thumbsticks, you can carefully insert this point into the mechanism underneath. When you rotate it and feel it locked in place, twist clockwise. If done correctly and if the point doesn't slide out of line, you should feel it turn in your hand, increasing the tension. twisting anti-clockwise on an already adjusted thumbstick would set it back to either the middle or left of the 3 positions, with the right-hand one being the tightest and the left-hand one the loosest).

The end result is a relatively smooth process even without sight, though I must admit it will definitely take some practice before I completely get the hang of it. However, given it's designed to be a semi-fire and forget idea in the first place, the ease of adjustment is certainly a great feature whichever way you look at it.





The Elite V2 is a premium product and all the care, attention and improvements that have gone into this iteration of the controller certainly makes that easy to see. Even though many of the original features have remained (the trigger locks, 4 paddles and interchangeable D-pad to name a few), the new additions, whilst some are relatively small, all add up to make for a product that is definitely useful if you're looking to take your game to the next level.

Though I'm not totally sold on the idea of internal batteries, preferring the ability to replace them if they run out for example, the performance of said battery and the controller in general cannot be understated.

If you're a gamer looking to elevate your skills on a hardware level, or just want to have an easier way of hitting reload in those stressful firefights, the Elite V2 may be just what you're looking for.

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