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You can tune the new Xbox Elite controller joysticks to feel just like the Xbox 360

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You could really customize the original Xbox Elite controller, adding paddles, swapping out the D-Pad, and fine-tuning the triggers. It's the best PC controller if price is no object. But the new Elite Series 2 controller, out later this year, goes a step further. It can actually become a different controller.

Or, well, its joysticks can feel like they belong to a different controller, anyway: The Xbox 360 pad, still a mainstay for PC gamers because they're so cheap to buy online. It was a near-perfect controller, and while these days I prefer the revised Xbox One controller, it took me a long time to adjust to how different its joysticks felt from the Xbox 360 pad.

With the new Xbox One Elite Series 2 controller, you can adjust the tension of both joysticks to three different settings. Microsoft industrial designer Carl Ledbetter showed off the controller on a Giant Bomb livestream on Tuesday, and talked a little about how they brought back the Xbox 360 feel.

"The tension is a big deal. I was around for 360. When we launched the Xbox One controller, [people were like] 'hey, the tension changed. What are you guys going to do about that?' And so we studied it," Ledbetter said.

For the Elite Series 2, the "high" tension option is the same joystick tension as the old Xbox 360 joysticks. There's also the Xbox One's standard middle setting, and a lighter tension option for people who want barely any resistance.

"But we didn't stop there," he said. "You can actually add this new topper, and this is actually the geometry from the 360. So you can mimic the same tension as the 360 and add this topper—we got rid of the four molded-in bumps on the 360 thumbstick, because they always wear off, but we added a little edge. So it actually feels better than the 360, but is inspired by that design."

The $180 Elite Series 2 is out in October. We got our hands on it at E3, and will report back with our thumbpinions shortly. 

Wes Fenlon
Wes Fenlon

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.


When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).