Five PC Games That Make The Xbox Elite Controller Worth It

Five PC Games That Make The Xbox Elite Controller Worth It

You’ve stared at the price. $199.95. That’s a hell of a lot of money. The standard Xbox One controller costs around $80. The Xbox 360 controller works perfectly fine.

Why the hell would you consider shelling out that much on a controller — especially if you’re playing on PC? Well, as it turns out, there are plenty of reasons. Here’s five games that might make you reconsider.

Before we start, it’s worth noting that you’ll get the most out of the Xbox Elite controller on PC if you’re running Windows 10. It’s perfectly functional on older versions of Windows — as long as you install the Xbox One driver from the Major Nelson blog, it runs without a hitch — but the Xbox Accessories app on Win10 will let you remap the controls, which you’ll want to do (since the paddles on the back are originally bound to the face buttons, which isn’t much help).

With that out of the way, let’s begin.

Project CARS

Sure, you could be playing Project CARS on a console, but then you’d be missing out on the wonderful frame rate, 144hz monitors and the gorgeous effects that the PC can dial up to 11. Unfortunately, if you’ve got a rig that can do all that, then you might find yourself lacking the many hundreds of dollars required for a suitable racing wheel.

I played about 50 hours of pCARS before hitting the wall that inevitably happens when playing a simulation racer with the stock standard Xbox One controller. The Xbox Elite controller is much more suited to the task, though. Having the paddles on the back of the controller, like the many excellent third-party controllers have in the past, is infinitely nicer for shifting gears.

Even if you want to stick to using the bumpers for gears, that works just fine too. Microsoft has made the bumpers far less rigid on the Elite controller, correcting one of the greatest annoyances with the Xbox One pad. You can also ensure that DRS and KERS are bound to the paddles, saving the annoyance of having to remove your thumb from the steering to perfectly time that extra bit of boost.

Ultra Street Fighter 4

The D-Pad on the Xbox One controller is actually pretty good. If you want to keep using that for fighters on PC with the Xbox Elite you can keep doing that, since the original D-Pad is included in the little case along with two sets of replacement thumb sticks.

But the Elite’s inverted D-Pad, which looks a bit like how a silver plate might have been rendered in polygons in a early 1990’s game, has just as much flexibility, is more comfortable for your thumb and ultimately a better tool for fighting games. USF4 has a decent player base on PC too, and being able to remap the high kick/punch (or throw/focus attack) to the paddles makes the experience a lot more comfortable.

Alternatively, you could map two of the paddles to left and right on the D-pad (for fast dashing), while having the throw and focus attack buttons mapped to the other two. That would enable you to use the analogue stick and still dash with ease. You’re probably still better off using a fighting stick, but the controller is more practical for a wider range of games than a fighting stick would be.

Sublevel Zero

Sublevel Zero is a recent six degrees of freedom indie roguelike that left Early Access about a month ago, and it’s one of the few games on the horizon to really channel that Descent vibe. Descent: Underground won’t be around for a while, having only just gone into EA itself a few weeks ago.

But Sublevel Zero highlights a really interesting problem that flight games have on gamepads — the inability to smoothly have roll, pitch and yaw bound without breaking the flow of the game. Often you’ll have to take your hand off the stick to roll, which breaks up the flow of the game and ruins the experience somewhat.

You can even use the same profile for fighting games here, since roll is often mapped to the D-pad. That leaves aiming, strafing and traditional movement to the left and right sticks, making for a more enjoyable game than you’d ordinarily have with any other controller.

Elite: Dangerous

It’s similar territory to Sublevel Zero, although Elite: Dangerous — and you can lump Star Citizen in here as well, since the game is designed for gamepads too — is distinct enough and expansive enough that it warrants a mention.

The game’s actually designed to be used with an Xbox controller. Not exclusively, of course, but Frontier did push out an Early Access-esque build of E:D to Xbox One earlier this year. It’s also infinitely easier to justify dropping $200 on a Xbox Elite that can be used to play a variety of games, Elite: Dangerous included, as opposed to spending the hundreds on a HOTAS setup and only being able to play E:D, Star Citizen and occasional rounds of X-Wing vs TIE Fighter. Or Evochron Mercenary. Or Hardwar. Or Forsaken. (You get the idea.)

The rolling issue with Sublevel Zero/Descent: Underground comes in handy here too, particularly if you need to make some last-second adjustments while docking. And while this counts for all the games, it helps that the Xbox Elite feels nice and weighty — just like a piece of equipment in a space-craft should.

Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin

You don’t really play Dark Souls on PC with mouse and keyboard. I mean, you could. There’s certainly nothing stopping you. But it’s a terrible, woeful experience, and you’re much better served by picking up a controller instead.

It goes without saying that the ability to remap controls to your will can make some of the various actions much simpler, particularly if you want to run without the pain-inducing tradition of pushing in the left thumb stick. Being able to switch weapons without having to flick to the D-pad can be a lifesaver if you’re managing minuscule attack windows, particularly with Scholar of the First Sin’s added difficulty.

There’s also a whole raft of other games that are far superior with the Xbox Elite controller than the Xbox One or PS4 pad on PC. I thought about mentioning a few shooters, considering the portion of gamers who aren’t physically capable of using a mouse and keyboard for various reasons, and there are plenty of other games similar to the ones above such as Next Car Game: Wreckfest, Skullgirls, F1 2015 or the GRID series. It’s also worth noting that those with Xbox One’s can stream games to their Windows 10 PC, so you could conceivably include titles like Halo 5: Guardians and Forza 6 as well.

What games on PC do you prefer to play with a controller — and what games do you think would best benefit from having the accessibility of the paddles on the back, the hair-triggers or the greater surface of the D-pad?


  • Just get a driving wheel, fight stick and joystick.

    I guess comparing the cost of all three to an elite, the elite would be cheaper for decent tech, but well, those controllers are made for those games. :-\

    • Decent wheel: $400-500
      Decent fight stick: $200-300 (or more)
      Joystick: depends on whether HOTAS setup or not, but let’s say $150-200 (thinking the low-end Saitek)

      Basically shelling out for a whole PC right there, hence the argument for a good controller instead.

      • On sticks, I find the T.16000M to be pretty excellent. And especially since it’s only about $60. Don’t think I could play Elite with anything else now, I love it.

    • The controller is the more versatile option though. The Elite controller isn’t for everybody, but considering how much people pay for mice, keyboards, headsets, etc I’d say there is a definitely a market for this sort of gear. In fact I’d say gamepads have been a bit neglected in this area.

  • Seriously why havent the chinese been knowing out ripoff copies of the xbox controller with d-pad and analog stick positions switched, so it will feel comfortable using it?

    I can feel the aching in my left hand even thinking about the xbox controller

    • Personally I prefer the left stick position on the Xbox controller, the only time I think i would prefer them switched is for a fighting game.

      Got my elite controller on pre-order, got a stack of gift cards waiting to offset most of the cost too

      • Yeah, I always found the Sony layout a little uncomfortable to use. When I went from PS2 to X360 the controller felt a lot more natural to use.

        • It’s simple: When they made the PS1 controller they (very sensibly) put the d-pad in the most comfortable spot for the thumb on the left and the buttons in the same spot on the right.

          When they made the duel shock they put the two sticks in the second best spots available and they haven’t changed it since.

          People argue that it’s important to have the sticks at the same height (I disagree, but each to their own), but it doesn’t change the fact that the primary movement input on the PS2/3/4 controller is in a really annoying spot, that it wasn’t anybody’s first pick of spots and that it’s ended up that way for historical reasons rather than ergonomic ones.

          While I’ll give the PS1 duel shock a pass because adding a second stick was a great idea, the PS2 and 3 controllers were god-awful as a result. The PS4 makes some good changes though.

          • I think the ps4 stick is better than the old sony controllers, but the sticks are too high when you have to click them while holding any triggers or sholder buttons. The xbone has them at the right angle.

  • Yeah, the elite controller isnt going to get any love from me…. tried it on several occassions over at pax, and im sorry, but i definitely cant justify $200 for it… you’d honestly expect an huge step up from the standard xbone controller, but nope, this isnt it…

    • So what did you expect?

      It’s a controller with a bunch of niche additions and customisable features for people who are truly nuts about tinkering with what is otherwise a standard controller. It’s for the people who want to customise their triggers, or who want to spend hours optimising setups for individual games.

      You pick it up at a conference, push the standard buttons, run around in a circle and go “It’s a controller!”…… well….. yeah.
      Did you want it to play your games for you?

      • nope, i was basically expecting some changes in design/shape for the sake of comfort, some tightening of the analogue dead zones, improvements to the pressure sensitive triggers and buttons, weigh out the controller evenly between left/right halves, higher quality d-pad…..

        so no, not expecting it to play games for me, just give me $200 worth of improvements.

        you have to get a clear understanding of what people look for in a controller before you throw sarcasm into the mix….

        • You can change the stick sensitivity, and length and the trigger sensitivity, and they added rubberised grips, and you can pick from multiple d pads… So basically everything you asked for except the weighting thing (are the sides even different weights? If they are its by a gram or two) and the shape, which they would have changed on the regular controller if there was some better design.

          They’re kinda all changes that you wouldn’t appreciate at all if you just got to use it as it came at a convention.

  • Still nothing wrong with my old wired 360 pad for PC play. Only cost $39 and is still more compatible than any other option, even the wireless 360 pad.

    • There is one thing very wrong with the 360 pad I’m hoping they correct this time around – the PC drivers don’t include chatpad functionality. Such a waste considering how much more often a PC gamer is going to want to use a QWERTY keyboard than an XBOX 360/One owner.

  • cant wait. gonna get 4 of these for those local co-op nights with friends….

    …..or i could build the majority of a new PC and keep my older wireless xbox360 controllers that i picked up for $35 each.

  • Most people also love playing Rocket League with a controller. Perhaps another game to add to the list.

  • I guess they can charge $200 because it has Elite in the title… Kinda reminds me of those “gaming” motherboards

  • Still use my 360 wired controller and it works perfectly. The elite controller looks nice and I like the features but it’s just too expensive. I wish I could use the Ps4 controllers with windows 10. Does anyone know if it can be done?

    • Yes, the DS4 can be used with windows 10, but it’s a bit of a pain (Thanks Microsoft).
      1. Download DS4Windows
      2. Install and connect (either wired or bluetooth DS4 Controller)
      3.a) You’ll probably have to run in exclusive mode which will hide the DS4 (and only show the emulated xinput controller)… Unfortunately it’s buggy in windows 10.
      3.b) If having trouble with running in exclusive mode ensure steam, windows game bar, recording programs (raptr) are all not running. If it’s still not working in exclusive mode launch msconfig (Windows+R: msconfig) services tab, untick DHCP Client and press OK, Restart.
      Note: You will need to also manually set your network settings (to use a specified IP address, not obtaining an IP automatically) otherwise you will lose your network connection.

      Good Luck!

      • Wow thanks mate! I’ll try this when I’m at home. I don’t mind using the 360 controller but if I could use the PS4 dual shock it would be awesome!

      • The other issue is most games use xbox keys default in their UI with no option for ps, esp in quicktime events and things. Just makes it confusing, far easier to use an xbone controller.

        • yeah, that is a big annoyance, fortunately the game I’m currently playing there’s a mod to change the overlay to DS3/4 buttons (Valkyria Chronicles). 99% of games however do not have this 🙁

        • lol yeah. It used to bother me, especially back when I got my first 360 pad (I had only used PS controllers and of course Mouse and keys) but now I just know which position ABXY should be and hit the correlating PS button from muscle memory.

          But I guess multiplat peeps like me have to mentally correspond button prompts to positions and not to the symbols in order to make switching between from PC to Playstation to Xbox to Nintendo easier.

  • i will admit, setting the paddles to dash is a pretty great idea for people who have troubles with FADC’s.

    i’ve spent about 100 hours in SFIV and i still have trouble hitting FADC’s sometimes.

    • Not to mention ADSQ’s and VBWP’s.
      Not so bad with GGFL’s when you factor in CCXI.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!