The Xbox Elite Controller might actually be worth the money

You read that right, Microsoft somehow made a controller that just might be worth the ridiculous $150 price tag. Ever since the announcement of the Elite Controller, I have been more than skeptical that it would be anything other than a minor improvement over the already solid Xbox One controller. Honestly, I thought it was just a way to get more money out of Xbox fanboys to make up for the price cut last year. Every once in a while though, I’m OK with being wrong. The Elite seems more like a PC and Xbox player’s wet dream than shelf decoration.

Let’s start out simple. Before even pairing it up a console, the Xbox Elite Controller is obviously a solidly made piece of hardware, even more so than the console. It comes in a hard case, which nicely keeps track of the interchangeable pieces of the controller when not in use. Three sets of triggers are included, two different kinds of d-pads and a pair of interchangeable sticks. Everything feels like it is made of high-quality material and should hold up well over thousands of uses. The thumb sticks click in magnetically, which gives me hope that the inner mechanism is well protected and won’t pick up small problems along the way as I have experienced with the normal XBO controller. Another important feature is the ability to customize the travel of the Elite Controller’s triggers which can increase performance in different game types.

The controller feels extremely natural and solid when in my hands. It feels like I’m holding something that cost $150. The physical customization isn’t crazy, but the software side takes it to the next level. It is possible to remap the controller’s buttons on the Xbox One. This may not be an important feature to PC players who can do that with any controller ever made, but for serious console only players this can be a game changer, literally. This is all done in the downloadable Xbox Accessories app. A slider on the back of the controller allows for quick changing between different saved controller configurations. While I didn’t personally use this feature much, I can see how it could be great for a variety of games like first person shooters where one might want a different control setup for different weapons. The Elite Controller allows for this to happen quickly and smoothly in game which could certainly help in a competitive online situation.

Now for the one terrible annoying thing about this controller which makes absolutely no since to me. The Xbox Elite controller does not come with a rechargeable battery pack. That’s right, this $150 controller requires two AA batteries, not included. Um, what? Surely Microsoft could have included the $20 rechargeable kit in their ridiculous expensive controller, right?

I feel that the Xbox Elite controller will actually be used mainly on PC. Console gamers are often not very likely to spend ridiculous amounts of money on their gaming experience. I mean much of the console gamer crowd is yet to move up to the current generation of consoles! PC gamers, though, who often throw down over a grand for a PC build may be much more likely to invest in a high quality gamepad, especially when so many PC gamers are looking for a new controller after seeing the disappointment of the Steam Controller.

So, is the new Xbox Elite Controller worth the money? Well, that depends on how much you have? If the price means you would have to do without buying two new games this holiday season, it’s not worth it. If you are willing to spend money to improve the gaming experience on top of just buying new games, this controller might be worth it to you. I could certainly see this controller being the way for gamers to cement their status as a “real gamer”, even if that is a ridiculous thing to do. The Elite Controller is certainly the best console controller made to date. There is a problem for console gamers though. To use the Elite Controller you have to play on the Xbox instead of PS4…



The Quick Save: This Week in Gaming September 18th

quick save #1 9-17-15

Nintendo names new president Tatsumi Kimishima

The week started with a bang Monday when Nintendo announced that Tatsumi Kimishima would be taking over the presidential position after the passing of Satoru Iwata in July. Kimishima has a long track record with Nintendo, starting as the representative director of The Pokémon Company in 200 and quickly moving up the ladder to director of Nintendo of America, inc. in 2002. Since then he has taken over more roles in addition to director and was by most accounts the man best poised to replace Iwata. The choice of Kimishima is a bit of a surprise, though, as Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda have been serving as presidents in the interim and would be more well known names to place in the position, Kimishima being a bit of an unknown variable in the public eye.

The official statement from Nintendo can be found here. It includes a quick briefing of Tatsumi Kimishima’s professional history and also some interesting changes concerning the changing of roles for some directors inside Nintendo including the new creative roles of both Miyamoto and Takeda, who both prefer creative roles to business ones. Changes were officially made on September 16th, framed as a “large-scale revision of the organizational structure of the Company”.

The Last of Us 2 Confirmed?

On Wednesday the 16th, during a live stream by Naughty Dog, writer Josh Scherr may have accidentally confirmed the existence of The Last of Us 2. Naughty Dog had said in the past they would like to do more with The Last of US. Scherr’s comment seemed to imply the development of a sequel, and of course a company like Naughty Dog would want to try to recreate the huge success of the original game. At this time Naughty Dog has made no official statement concerning Scherr’s comment or The Last of Us 2.

New PS4 Hardware from TGS

At the Tokyo Game Show this week, Sony showed off the new updated PlayStation hardware looks. When I say looks, that’s all there really is to it. Some new color schemes for both the PS4 and PSVita were shown, and while very pretty, weren’t anything all that impressive. The PS4 schemes likely coincide with the “lighter, quieter” hardware update announced in July. Also included in the booth was a new transparent Dual Shock 4 controller. While this is interesting to some, the sad thing is that new colored plastic is one of the biggest headlines out of this year’s TGS, a show having a harder time competing with other conventions this time of year.

Super Mario Maker a Critical Success

OK, turns out people like Mario. Who would’ve thought such a thing. Not only do they like Mario, but they seem to love making their own Mario levels. Super Mario Maker has reviewed extremely well, with scores like a 9/10 from IGN and a perfect score from Giant bomb. The interesting question now is if the game’s community will stay around, and more importantly does Super Mario Maker help the dismal sales of the Wii U?

Other News From TGS

Other smaller headlines from the 2015 Tokyo Game Show mainly come from Sony. On top of showing some new plastics, Sony continued showing off their VR headset “Project Morpheus”. They did something weird, though. The first part of the VR demo was DYNASTY WARRIORS. Yeah, you know, one of the worst possible games to show off virtual reality for the first time, but I’m no tech executive so what do I know. Turns out The Last Guardian still exists after it’s E3 appearance this year. Fan hype went through the roof when developers announced The Last Guardian would be at TGS in some new way, they just failed to mention that it was just a non-interactive video of Trico (the dog-bird-thing) in a cage looking kind of sad. But, hey! At least it didn’t disappear again…not yet at least.

The importance of game preservation.

Think about the games you played a very very long time ago. Can you play them on your PC, console or phone now? Yeah, if you still own the original piece of tech they used to run on, sure you can. But what we can’t really appreciate is the fact that technology is advancing at a much faster rate than it used to. It’s hard to build a high-end PC or have the best phone on the market for more than two years tops. Games constantly push the boundaries of what software can achieve, and what hardware can put up with as well. That’s one of the reasons digital copies of music, games and movies are so popular right now. You never know when Blu Ray discs would become obsolete, so you’re better off having a movie or game in some digital library. Granted they can be hacked, or the content may be lost because it doesn’t really exist, but on the other hand if you damage your physical copy, you’re pretty much done with the whole thing. Same goes for games. Continue reading

An overlooked reason we still need physical copies of games

For some time now, everyone in the video game industry has been going on and on about how digital games are going to take over the world and the evils of Gamestop and the like shall be banished from the earth and sent to live in exile in the deepest depths of hell. OK, maybe it isn’t always phrased exactly like that, but you get the idea. PSN, Xbox Live, and of course Steam are seen kind of like the iTunes of video games. Here to replace old fashioned physical discs and cartridges with digital downloads. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to say that isn’t true. Steam has already “won” it’s battle for PC gaming, but I can’t say that consoles can follow in the same fashion. Not yet, at least. Continue reading

How pirates brought on the age of Netflix

No I don’t mean Blackbeard is sitting in an IT department coding a digital storefront. I’m of course speaking of piracy in the more modern sense, the act of illegally sharing or downloading media, video games etc. Pirates are typically seen as people who will do just about anything to make sure they don’t have to properly pay for access to movies, games, and the like. The reality of it is, not all pirates are completely against paying, and sometimes convenience plays a large role in whether or not someone buys something or pirates it. Continue reading

A Short History of Indie Games, and a Look into the Future

Gzsf4R8Independent developers have brought us gamers some of the most original and exciting games of the last decade. From masterpieces like The Unfinished Swan and Limbo, to the crazy and quirky like Hotline Miami and even Goat Simulator, indie games have been some of the most noteworthy games in history, and phenoms like Minecraft will be remembered as a huge part of many childhoods. So how did such a huge part of the video game industry get started, and where does it go from here?
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Valve has Announced Their Entry Into the VR Market With the HTC Re Vive

Screenshot_2015-03-01_10.52.26.0For some time many of us have been speculating as to where Valve will find itself in the emerging VR market. Originally, Valve and Gabe Newell supported development of the Oculus Rift VR headset, but this likely changed when Oculus was bought by Facebook, one of the most surprising moves in recent memory. Especially considering the Oculus Rift was being made with video games in mind yet Facebook doesn’t exactly have a foothold in the video game market (what are they going to do? Let us play Farmville like we’re really there). Continue reading