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Are Xbox Design Lab's Camo and Shadow options worth the price?

Xbox Design Lab
Xbox Design Lab (Image credit: Windows Central)

Consoles and controllers were a major component of Microsoft's Gamescom offerings, with new hardware tied to some of 2018's biggest titles. Microsoft also unveiled changes headed to Xbox Design Lab, its official storefront for custom controllers, adding two new color ranges to the service.

The latest refresh expands on a growing roster of options, with "Camo" and "Shadow" finishes for the bespoke gamepads. We took a deeper look into these latest additions and whether they're worth the $10 premium.

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What Camo and Shadow bring to Xbox Design Lab

The revival of Midnight Blue fits well with some Xbox Design Lab options.

The revival of Midnight Blue fits well with some Xbox Design Lab options.

This isn't the first appearance of Camo and Shadow for Xbox One controllers, with variants of both already available through existing official controllers. Many of these designs are familiar, though new options have also debuted exclusively on Xbox Design Lab.

The new Camo option drapes controllers in a sharp lozenge design, comprised of an array of polygonal shapes. Each features a blend of four shades, making for a sleek and concealed military-inspired aesthetic. Robot White, Military Green, Midnight Blue, and Abyss Black return from existing controllers, while "Desert Tan" is a new blend of tan and brown.

The all-new "Desert Tan" controller is the latest take on the "Forces" range.

The all-new "Desert Tan" controller is the latest take on the "Forces" range.

The Shadow finish features a matte black gradient that merges into one of six colors. This can make for striking colors contrast, which shine in the light thanks to the metallic finish. Oxide Red, Bronze, Photon Blue, Deep Pink, and Mineral Blue are all permanent additions, each with the same descending black. The sixth option is available for a limited time, as an "event exclusive" for Gamescom 2018. It features a blend of black and metallic silver, available online until September 30.

However, these new designs do have some limitations to consider before placing your purchase. Both Camo and Shadow designs are only available across a small set of predefined colors, rather than the full Xbox Design Lab palette. Only five of each style will be available through the service, enforcing heavier limitations over solid finishes. The new designs can only be applied to front body plates too, meaning you'll stuck with a solid color on the rear.

Should you buy these Xbox Design Lab options?

Grab it before it goes – the event exclusive Shadow design will be removed next month.

Grab it before it goes – the event exclusive Shadow design will be removed next month.

While a standard Xbox Design Lab controller retails for $69.99, adding a Camo or Shadow finish raises this to $79.99. Like most Xbox One controllers, these feel great in-hand, with overall build quality matching other official products. You'll need to work around the limitations of Xbox Design Lab, though we recommend experimenting to see if the new option styles are for you.

In-person, each design offers a great finish and can be well-styled with certain color options. The Shadow line looks notably smart in-hand, including the premium chromatic silver of the event-exclusive color. It won't rival the true metal of the Xbox Elite controller (opens in new tab), but from a visual standpoint, this is a great alternative for that first-class look.

Xbox Design Lab's Shadow and Camo options are now live, starting at $79.99 (opens in new tab) in the U.S.

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Matt Brown is a senior editor at Future for Windows Central. Following six years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Xbox and Windows PCs. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

3 Comments
  • No, u should be able to select the top and bottom colors, or the two separate camo colors. Then yes they would be.
  • Additionally the still need to add thumb stock options
  • "Worth it" is totally subjective. As the unimaginable success of Fortnite has shown, gamers are willing to shell out insane amounts of money on purely cosmetic overlays. So while you might not think so, if somelimes the look of a particular camo or shadow effect it's "worth it" to them.