Xbox's new Elite controller sacrifices features for affordability

Xbox's Elite Core controller may have that pro branding, but it lacks most of the features that make a controller truly "pro."

A more affordable pro controller for Xbox is definitely welcome, but the company’s latest offering comes at a different cost. Xbox announced its Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 Core in white, which comes in at a much cheaper price point of $130.

The Core controller is just the base package for a pro controller.Xbox

There is a major catch, though. The Elite Core controller only comes with some of the pro features we saw with the original Elite controller. It doesn’t come with paddles, extra thumbsticks, or an extra D-pad. That doesn’t mean the Elite Core controller can’t support them, it just doesn’t include them in the package like the $180 Elite Wireless Controller Series 2.

If you just want to update your old Elite controller with a new body, this Core controller is likely a solid deal since you already have all the extra components. But, if you’re buying a new controller, you’re better off going with the more expensive option since it has all the extras to actually make it feel truly pro. There’s even third-party options out there like Razer’s Wolverine V2 Chroma that include paddles.

Core components only — As the name suggests, the Core controller only has the core components of the pro controller. It has the adjustable-tension thumbsticks, shorter hair trigger locks, and a rubber grip that wraps around the controller. Like the original, the Core controller also has 40 hours of rechargeable battery life.

You still get adjustable thumbsticks and shorter hair trigger locks with the Core controller.Xbox

There’s not much that’s actually new, but Microsoft says it’s using “refined components that are built to last” with the new Core controller. We’re hoping that’s enough to address the quality control issues that a lot of users saw with the original Xbox Elite controllers, including stick drift and faulty bumpers.

It’s worth noting that the Core controller still doesn’t feature a gyroscope, or Hall effect joysticks that use magnets to prevent stick drift. There is a nice consolation prize with the Core controller’s introduction, and that’s the fact that Microsoft is bringing its Elite controller to Xbox Design Lab, letting us customize the look of our expensive controllers.

The Elite controller is coming to Xbox’s Design Lab.Xbox

Actually affordable? — Xbox’s Core controllers are up for preorder now and will be available on September 21. Microsoft is also releasing a Complete Component Pack on the same day for $60, which includes all the extras like a charging dock, carrying case, USB-C cable, four paddles, four thumbsticks and an extra D-pad. If you crunch the numbers, it’s slightly cheaper to just go for the original Xbox Elite Series 2 controller than buying the Core controller with the Complete Component Pack.

You can add on all the extra pieces with the Complete Component Pack.Xbox

We’re not sure who will be interested in the Core controller, outside of those looking for a replacement controller body. There could also be a market out there who would be interested in the Core controller and seek out third-party add-ons. Still, it feels like Microsoft should have bumped the price down even further to make the Core controller feel like a more affordable option.