Halo 5 Limited Edition Xbox One Controllers review

Xbox One Controller
Xbox One Controller

With Halo 5: Guardians launching on Xbox One, we've all got Halo fever. And sometimes the only cure for Halo fever is to buy more Halo stuff. With that in mind, Microsoft has kindly released a pair of Halo 5 Limited Edition Wireless Xbox One Controllers.

One controller is themed after Master Chief, traditional protagonist the Halo series, while the other features a design based on Halo 5's new antihero Spartan Locke. Each comes with a download code for a unique REQ Pack and Visor accessory in the main Halo 5 game. Watch us put both controllers under the microscope in our detailed review with video.

Packaging, inserts, and DLC

The Halo 5 Limited Edition controllers each come in a unique decorative box, not unlike the Titanfall Limited Edition Controller's box. The Master Chief controller box mentions the Master Chief's name, whereas the Spartan Locke controller box does not mention Locke's name. Presumably that owes to Locke being a new character in Halo 5 rather than an established one.

Master Chief appears on the front of his box, and also in profile on the rear of that box. The same profile shot shows up on Locke's box but paired with a profile of Locke as well – the ultimate stare down.

Halo 5 Limited Edition Xbox One Controllers review box

Inside each box, you get the controller, 2 standard AA batteries, a double-sided insert describing both controllers, and a DLC card. Each DLC card contains a code for a unique REQ pack that only comes with that specific controller. The REQ pack consists of five REQ cards, one of which is an Ultra Rare item.

The Master Chief controller's pack gets you the Dauntless visor, whereas the Locke controller's pack includes the Resolute visor. Visors appear on your character in Halo's Arena and Warzone competitive multiplayer modes. They're barely visible during gameplay, but they do offer a nice touch of customization when looking at the larger profile images of your character.

Halo 5 Limited Edition Xbox One Controllers review

Master Chief Controller

The front and sides of the Master Chief controller come in a fetching textured green color based on Master Chief's Halo 5 armor. These portions feature laser-etched detail lines (meaning they are actually cut into the controller) and several areas painted dark gray.

Etched honeycomb patterns adorn the front of the handgrips – these hexagons show up on Master Chief's actual armor in Halo 5. The UNSC (United Nations Space Command) logo appears on white between the standard black View and Menu buttons. Both sides have a single red triangle pointing towards the face of the controller.

Halo 5 Limited Edition Xbox One Controllers review Dauntless Visor

The tops of the analog sticks are dark green, matching the rest of the controller. The neck and base of the analog sticks are black though, like those of a standard Xbox One controller. The Forza 6 controller used a similar effect, but with blue tops instead of green. On both cases, the designers likely kept the black parts to make the tops stand out more.

Standing out even more than the analog sticks are the Master Chief controller's d-pad and analog triggers. The d-pad features a gold chrome finish and the triggers, while not chrome, still come in shiny gold. The Halo controllers are only the second Xbox One controllers to include colored triggers, following the Forza 6 controller.

Halo 5 Limited Edition Xbox One Controllers review

The four primary face buttons (X, Y, A, and B) are black with green letters. The traditional colors for those buttons appear as colored triangles below and left of the buttons. That should help reduce confusion when playing games that require knowledge of the standard button colors.

The back portion of the controller is black, just like with most standard controllers (and even special ones like the Titanfall and Special Forces controllers). The battery compartment has a unique touch, though – six etched dots represent the numbers 117 (Master Chief's Spartan Tag) in Braille. This same dot pattern appears on John-117's armor in some Halo games.

The top portion of the controller comes in glossy black plastic, as with most Xbox One controllers. The glossy plastic shows smudges and fingerprints very easily; I wish Microsoft would go with matte plastic instead.

Halo 5 Limited Edition Xbox One Controllers review

Spartan Locke controller

This controller is a bit less recognizably based on Halo, but only because Spartan Jameson Locke first appears in the recent Halo: the Master Chief Collection and Halo 5 games. The front and sides of this controller come in a sleek textured silver color based on Spartan Locke's Halo 5 armor.

The Locke controller still features plenty of laser-etched details, including a honeycomb pattern (in a different shape) on the front hand grips. Some of the laser etched portions are painted slightly darker silver, but the effect might be too subtle for some users to notice.

A dark gray UNSC logo appears above the left analog stick. A series of dots – some silver and some gray – show up between and to the right of the Menu and View buttons. The number 10282558 sits to the right of the face buttons. Rather than one of the Spartan's service numbers, the number seems to represent the date 10/28/2558. A bit obscure there, Microsoft.

The four main face buttons, View, and Menu are all gray with dark gray labels. The Locke controller is the second one to have colored View and Menu buttons, after the Forza 6 controller. Colored triangles appear directly above the face buttons – a different position than on the Master Chief controller.

Halo 5 Limited Edition Xbox One Controllers review Resolute Visor

The analog sticks are entirely dark gray here, making this the first Xbox One controller with no black on its analog sticks. The back of the controller and battery share the same dark gray color. No Braille designs on this battery cover. The top portion of the controller matches the rest closely, as it uses dark gray glossy plastic. All firsts for an Xbox One controller.

The d-pad here is painted chrome blue. A subtle pattern of three slashes occupies the right direction on the d-pad. How long will the chrome and slashes last under regular use? Probably not forever, but hopefully a good while. Six blue lines of metallic paint appear on the controller's face as well – Locke's armor features similar blue accents.

The analog triggers are a dark but shiny silver. They look lovely, but I'd still have preferred blue to match the d-pad. The Master Chief's controller's triggers catch the eye better.

The right side of Locke's controller has five different Halo emblems painted in dark gray. The left side has four Spartan call signs in dark gray as well: F-104, J-117, K-087, and L-058. Oddly, these are the call signs of Master Chief's Halo 5 team, not Locke's. I guess they represent a checklist of Locke's enemies or something, but Locke's call signs would have made more immediate sense.

Halo 5 Limited Edition Xbox One Controllers review

Halo 5 Controllers (Image credit: Windows Central)

Prepare for the showdown

Both Halo 5 controllers do a great job of capturing the looks of the characters they represent. The Locke controller comes across as more neutral, but only because Spartan Locke has yet to become an iconic character in the way that Master Chief has. These green and silver controllers are among the most beautiful to grace the Xbox One to date, especially thanks to their chrome d-pads and colored triggers.

Should you buy a Halo 5 controllers even though it costs $10 more than a standard controller's retail price? If you're a Halo fan, I say yes. You get a memorable controller, a piece of unique DLC for halo 5, and an attractive box to stick on a shelf somewhere. These controllers also feature the 3.5mm headset jacks and improved bumper buttons that debuted in June 2015, which should help justify the upgrade for anyone stuck with an older controller.

Like the Titanfall controller, the Halo 5 controllers really are limited edition. I suspect the Locke controllers will stick around retail longer than the Master Chief version, but they'll still disappear eventually. Grab one or both controllers and you'll be ready to celebrate Halo 5 in style.

Note that the Spartan Locke controller also comes with the Halo 5 Limited Edition Xbox One console, so owners of that controller won't need to purchase it separately.

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!