I have a micro-obsession with the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller, but ended up hating it, and myself, while trying to switch between using it on my gaming PC and Xbox Series X. It turns out that as Elite as it might be—it really is, love that pad—the new Series X/S joypads are smarter.
It has recently come to light that there is an undocumented little trick in the Xbox Series X/S controllers' arsenal that should endear the latest Microsoft pads to anyone flipping between PC and console.
Using your @Xbox Series X|S controller with console & pc/mobile for @XboxGamePass frequently? #XboxSeries controllers can memorize sync!-> Hold "sync" to recall last mobile/PC device (flashing 2-3x)-> Double-tap "sync" to switch back to your #Xbox (flash once)#XboxSeriesX pic.twitter.com/0avzjoOdreFebruary 8, 2021
Microsoft's Timo Wolf took to twitter to highlight the feature, which allows you to quickly switch from Bluetooth mode on the PC to wireless connection on your Xbox.
Microsoft had previously stated that the new controllers would memorise devices it was synced to, but there wasn't any official documentation about how it could be used. Wolf has shown that it's as simple as holding the sync button down to switch to the last Bluetooth-connected device, and a double tap to go back to the Xbox console.
We've tested it out ourselves and it definitely works, and we've also checked out the Elite Series 2 to see if it does the same thing... and it most definitely does not.
Which is a massive shame as I'd like to use it on both my PC and console, but I can't face the continual hassle of reconnection. Especially as the Series X is hidden behind my sofa as my 18 month-old son is irresistibly drawn to the shining Xbox logo/power button and would otherwise just sit there turning it on and off for hours.
This little quick-switch feature is a bonus for the Series X/S pads, and means it would be absolutely deserving of a place on our best PC controllers list for that alone. But it's still not without its faults.
For one, the quick-switch feature only operates between Bluetooth and Xbox wireless—essentially what you're doing is switching between those two connection modes and the pad retains the details of whatever it was last connected to.
So, if you're using the Xbox Wireless Adapter on PC then you're still screwed because it will only remember the last device on each connection. That means you can't go from Xbox Wireless Adapter on PC to Xbox Wireless on the console with a quick switch; that still requires a reconnection.
Sure Bluetooth has come on some way in the last few years, but the Series X/S controller is not necessarily the most reliable when paired to Bluetooth. For some games it's fine, but for others it's needlessly erratic. FIFA 21, for example, is all over the place… though interestingly absolutely fine with the Elite Series 2 in Bluetooth mode. Go figure.
There is also the fact that if you connect via a cable to charge it seems to forget what it's been linked to and you have to reconnect all over again. And sometimes, if you have a Wireless adapter plumbed into your PC, it will hop onto that over your Xbox console connection too, making things even more awkward.
But hey, no-one ever said wireless communication was anything less than a horrific shit show. Anyways, the fact remains that if you're happy gaming via Bluetooth on your PC then you can quick-switch between PC and console with the Series X/S pad at will, which is kinda neat.