The Xbox One comes with a tremendous controller included by default – it’s easily one of the best gamepads ever made, and has the added perk of working for PC games too.
Still, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement, and if you’re looking to replace your controller – or just grab a second for multiplayer – you’ve got plenty of great options, both from Microsoft and from third-party manufacturers.
And if you’re looking for some great games to make the most of your new controller, check out our pick of the best Xbox One games.
Lewis Painter also contributed to this article.
Xbox One Controller
Sure, if you own an Xbox One then you already have one of these controllers, but let’s be clear – they’re great, and if you’re looking for a second pad for multiplayer or to replace a broken controller, they’re the obvious choice.
Even better, Microsoft now offers the controllers in a huge range of different colours, including some two-tone setups and even a pair of Minecraft designs, so you don’t have to go for the basic white or black either.
Plus, it’s been continually tweaking and improving the controller, so if you buy one now it might be better than your original controller, with increased wireless range, Bluetooth support, and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack.
Xbox Design Lab
If you’re looking for a unique official Xbox One controller, your best bet is to head to Microsoft’s Xbox Design Lab. The service allows you to design your own custom Xbox One controller, changing the colour and finish of everything from the body of the controller to the triggers, D-Pad and analogue sticks. Want a grey controller with red highlights? That’s possible. Purple and blue with gold analogue sticks? Yep, that’s possible too.
In fact, there’s over 1 billion colour combinations available on Microsoft’s Xbox Design Lab. Ordering is an easy process too, as all your customisation options (colours, materials, engraving, grips, etc) will be mapped onto a virtual Xbox One controller on-screen. This allows you to visualise the controller, making sure you get the perfect colour combination before you click the buy button.
If you want something unique but aren’t creative yourself, don’t worry – Microsoft also has a range of pre-made Design Lab controllers for just about every occasion. And like the standard controller, the Design Lab controllers feature Bluetooth connectivity and is powered by 2 AA batteries.
The controllers don’t do anything that the standard controller can’t, but they do look amazing.
Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller
The price may give you pause for thought, but if you’re looking for an extra competitive edge online or simply want to tweak the finer details of your gaming experience, there’s good reason to consider the upgrade.
Alongside the slick black-and-chrome finish, the Elite controller boasts Hair Trigger Locks for faster firing in shooters, additional paddles on the back for more control options, and fully interchangeable control sticks and D-pad.
Swapping the control stick or D-pad is dead easy – the parts are magnetic, so all you have to do is pull them off and snap on the replacements. You can remap the controls for even more flexibility, and it comes with its own carry case with space for the controller itself and all the interchangeable components.
It all comes in an attractive black and chrome finish, and has a grippy texture – ideal for long or intense gaming sessions. You can also use it wirelessly, or wired using the included braided USB cable.
The only downside? It still feels silly to be paying over £100/$100 and getting a controller that relies on AA batteries – it’s a real shame Microsoft hasn’t invested in a rechargeable battery.
Evil Shift for Xbox One
The Evil Shift from Evil Controllers is one of our favourite eSports-level controllers on the market at the moment. Why? It’s mainly due to the unique design of the paddle system, which makes using the remappable paddles a breeze.
Due to the shape and the fact that the paddles are mounted directly on top of the activator buttons, a tap – from any angle – will activate the paddle. As well as providing improved response time, it also responds to almost-missed presses (even a tap on the side of the paddle will activate it).
They’re remappable too, using one of the simplest systems we’ve seen to date – when you want to remap, simply hold the View button and the paddle you’d like to remap, press the button you’d like to assign and you’re good to go! No app or other accessories required.
Aside from the paddles, the controller features hairpin triggers. They’re not adjustable like other controllers, but the trigger tension has been reduced by 50 percent without restricting the trigger. This provides increased reaction time without limiting game compatibility – an issue with some restricted triggers.
You’ll also find sensitive buttons that, thanks to the company’s ‘Quick Touch Technology’, provide improved response time with less required force and a satisfying mouse-like click.
Oh, the controller also offers interchangeable thumbsticks (three sizes to provide increased analogue stick accuracy) and a range of soft-touch finishes to choose from.
Scuf Infinity1 Xbox One Controller
Scuf is arguably the leader in custom controllers, especially in the eSports world where professional gamers need the best performance possible from their controllers. On the surface, Scuf offers everything that Microsoft’s Design Lab offers – custom triggers, body, buttons, analogue sticks, etc – and much, much more.
First up, all Scuf Infinity1 controllers feature a patented paddle system as standard, providing a quick and comfortable way to react to evolving combat situations without taking your thumbs off the analogue sticks. Electro-magnetic remapping enables you to change the paddle functions on-the-fly with the use of an EMR key, allowing you to fully customise your controller layout on a per-game basis.
You can also switch out the analogue sticks with Scuf’s Infinity Ring and Lock system. An included accessory is used to quickly remove the analogue sticks from the controller, allowing you to change the design of the stick (domed, concave, etc) or replace old, worn sticks.
The crowning glory for any budding eSports player should be Scuf’s adjustable hair trigger mechanism and trigger stop. This allows you to customise the tension and position of the triggers to get the best performance possible. You can also add a trigger stop, allowing the trigger to return to its initial position faster than conventional controllers.
These adjustments may only save a fraction of a second, but it can be the difference between life and death in competitive online gaming.
Xbox One Recon Tech Controller
Microsoft is expanding its already broad range of Xbox One controllers with a limited edition Tech Series, featuring a variety of different controller variants with slightly different innards, aesthetics, and inspirations.
First out of the gate is the Recon Tech Special Edition. “Inspired by military technology and performance patterns,” the chief technical innovation is that it supposedly boasts up to twice the wireless range of previous Xbox One pads, along with the now-standard Bluetooth so that you can connect up to a PC, Mac, or tablet too.
There’s also a textured diamond rubberized grip on the back of the controller to make it more comfortable for extended gameplay sessions, while the front boasts a gold accented design that doesn’t exactly scream ‘military recon’, but does look pretty cool.
If the price of the Xbox Elite controller makes you wince, you might want to give the Horipad Pro a look. It’s not as slick, it’s not as glossy, and it’s not as customisable, but it offers some of the same functionality at a cheaper price than even the default Xbox One pad.
The Horipad boasts four extra trigger buttons on the back that you can quickly assign functions to, using them as a convenient way to access the face buttons without taking your thumb off the right control stick. You can also use them together with the D-pad to mute your mic or adjust headset volume through the in-built 3.5mm jack.
It’s strictly wired (though that means no battery woes) and includes rumble. Build quality is generally pretty high (and the D-pad is a clear improvement on the Xbox One default), though it’s definitely built for smaller hands. Overall, it’s a solid choice for any competitive players who can’t stretch their budget as far as the Elite.
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