If you're in need of a new Xbox gamepad, you'll find no shortage of options from Microsoft and its partners. Everything from the basic controllers that ship with Xbox consoles themselves to limited edition ones with custom designs are readily available, and at the peak of the accessory mountain, there's the premium $179.99 Xbox Elite Controller Series 2.
In the mid-range, you'll find the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 Core. This is a more affordable version of the regular Elite Controller that includes its adjustable-tension thumbsticks, rubberized grip, and customizable trigger locks, but doesn't come with extra paddles, spare thumbsticks, a carrying case, or a charging dock. The Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 Core has an MSRP of $129.99, but thanks to an excellent deal on Amazon, you can get one for just $99. Notably, this is the lowest price I've ever seen the gamepad sell for, and it's the first time the cost has fallen under $100.
Overall, this controller is marketed towards players that want a competitive edge, as the tweakable thumbsticks and hair trigger locks allow you to finely tune your aim and execute trigger inputs faster, respectively. The lack of the back paddles you'd get with the full Series 2 gamepad is disappointing, but you can get third-party ones like eXtremeRate's linked above (they're on sale!) and attach them to the Series 2 Core. You can map inputs to these and press them without taking your thumbs off the sticks, which is hugely beneficial in competitive shooters.
Other benefits of the controller include an incredible 40+ hour battery life, full input customization support in the Xbox Accessories app on console and PC, the ability to save three distinct input profiles to the gamepad in said app, and personalization options for the color of its lit up Xbox button. Its rubber grips also make it easier to hold than a regular controller, which you'll probably value a lot if you have butterfingers.
In our Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 Core review, Windows Central Managing Editor Jez Corden was frustrated with the decision to not include paddles, but nevertheless asserted that the pad is "one of the best Xbox controllers on the market" if you're looking for something with extra functionality and excellent battery life.
It's worth noting that Microsoft's past Xbox Elite Controllers have been plagued with durability issues, with many owners reporting everything from broken rubber grips to drifting thumbsticks and non-functioning ABXY buttons. Microsoft claims the Series 2 Core has been manufactured with "refined components that are built to last," and speaking anecdotally, I haven't seen many people mention they've had issues...but even so, it's something to keep in mind.
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