(Pocket-lint) – The Xbox controller has a pretty impressive lineage already – after the somewhat odd shape adopted by the original console’s chunky gamepad, the Xbox 360 introduced a new form that’s stood the test of time.
It’s only been lightly revised through the Xbox One years, and has remained pretty similar for the Xbox Series X and S as well. That’s a testament to a great bit of design, but there are still some limitations to it. Whether it’s not quite the right shape for you, or because you want some extra buttons and functionality, picking up a different controller could be a game-changer.
We’ve rounded up some of the best and most well-regarded models on the market for you, to help you make the best choice when picking a controller for your Xbox.
The best Xbox controllers for all uses
Microsoft Xbox Elite Series 2
Microsoft spied that people were getting into custom controllers a few years ago and decided to take the market itself, and the second version of its controller is formiddable.
Like many pro controllers, this thing is pricey, but it’s got the bonus of official status, and a huge range of customisation options to let you tune it perfectly. Whether that’s rear paddles in whatever arrangement you like or thumbsticks that resist you the right amount, this is the best controller for most people right now – if they’re willing to pay!
Xbox Wireless Controller
The next generation of Xbox consoles, the Xbox Series X and Series S, has brought with it a new controller. If you don’t want all the fancy customisation, and are just seeking easy wireless play, the official controller is the best bet for you.
It’s got some nice improvements over the Xbox One version, including a dedicated button for screenshotting and capturing video clips, with improvements to its grippiness and texture, too.
PowerA Fusion Pro 2 Wired controller
If you want a controller that offers some seriously pro-level options, including swappable faceplates, extra paddle controls and different analog sticks, this is a great way to get them.
PowerA’s sequel to its own great controller manages to keep the cost low, primarily by sticking to a wired connection. If you can live with that, it feels amazing to use and offers extreme responsiveness.
Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition
Razer makes a whole range of peripherals that are great for Xbox gamers, including some excellent headsets, and its Wolverine Tournament Edition is a similarly impressive controller.
This is very much modelled on the official size and shape, but adds a similar bevy of options to the Xbox Elite controller. Those include trigger stops (hugely useful in shooters) and programmable buttons to set up your own shortcuts easily – you can even trigger higher or lower stick sensitivity on the fly, a real boon.
It’s a superb pad that also impressively undercuts the price of Microsoft’s own pro controller, although it is also wired (which most serious gamers will tell you is better for latency anyway).
Xbox One Wireless Controller
While it might not be the latest official controller any more, the older Xbox One pad is still a great buy and might slip downward in price over time, too, becoming a superb deal that will still work with the newer consoles.
It might just be the best ever first-party console controller in terms of comfort and reliability, and with Bluetooth on board the later versions, and the addition of a headphone jack, it’s pretty a great pick for most people.
Thrustmaster eSwapX Pro Controller
This controller is a nice update on the eSwap Pro, which has been available on PC and PlayStation for a few years. Firstly, it’s a comfortable wired controller with really nice, clickier buttons and some welcome extra buttons on the back of the pad.
Where things get unique is in the ease with which you can swap around the three control units – two joysticks and a D-Pad that can be arranged in any system you like. You just pull them out and swap them, it’s as simple as that. If you want total control over your pad’s layout, this could be the one for you.
If true customisation is your priority, look no further than a SCUF controller. These modded versions of official Xbox pads bring an almost boggling range of options.
You can choose colours and finishes for almost every bit of the controller, as well as features like extra buttons and paddles, different grips and thumbsticks and much more. The more you add, the more your price adds up, but if we had an unlimited budget we might well go for a fully kitted-out SCUF controller.
Xbox Adaptive Controller
Our final pick is obviously a little different to the other controllers on this list, but it’s also in our view the most important of all of them.
Microsoft has done superb work in the accessibility sphere in recent years, and the jewel in that crown is the Adaptive Controller, a sytem that lets people create totally bespoke and unique controller arrangements that suit gamers who might not be able to use traditional pads. For what it offers, it’s even priced affordably, and opens up a whole world of play to those who might not have always been able to enjoy it.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills.