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We made PC games into themed Xbox Elite controllers using Xbox Design Labs

PC Gamer 10/19/2022 Hope Corrigan
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The best wireless gaming controller you can get just got customisable, as Microsoft adds the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller to Xbox Design labs. This storefront allows you to choose the colours of various aspects of your controller, including face plates, triggers, buttons, and more. Then you can top it all off with a few accessories, and maybe even a name engraving. It allows you to get a great quality official Xbox controller, in colour varieties you're far less likely to see in the wild.

If you've never had the pleasure, the Xbox Elite controllers are a lot like the regular ones, but better in every way. They come with heaps of customisation options allowing for more control than usual. Things like hair-trigger locks, changeable d-pads, and back paddles make for a significant upgrade over the standard affair. They also pack a longer lasting battery, but have the added weight, and price tag to go with it.

A customisable Xbox Elite starts at $149 USD or $220 AUD for a base model. Optional extras can be added for an additional cost, but can also be customised as you go.  Add a few things like engravings, extra components, and a carrying case and charging pack and you'll end up paying around $210 USD for your complete controller set up.

What's even better is most of the colours on offer look really nice. The metallic shine on the triggers, d-pads, and back panels gives off a classy vibe, while the bold thumbsticks and faceplates demand attention. Choosing the colours you might want is the hardest part, so I spent some time playing with the designer tool making controllers inspired by some of my favourite PC experiences.

One of my favourite games to waste time in over the past few years has been Genshin Impact. While I'm not generally into Gacha games, I adore exploring the large open world and levelling up characters, learning to combo new abilities to take down the spiral abyss. And by my side throughout these journeys the whole time has been my faithful companion and emergency food provision, Paimon. So I dedicate this controller to thee, Paimon, the best white floaty a traveller can have. 

Paimon inspired Xbox Elite Series 2 controller

Another PC gaming favourite of mine has to be Overwatch. It was one of the first FPS I had personally played with a mouse and keyboard, always preferring to use controller where possible. Unfortunately, my old controller was no match for the mouse and keyboard skills on PC servers, but maybe I would have done a little better if I had one of these instead. This could be just what controller fans need to get the edge in Overwatch 2.

Overwatch inspired Controller

The Wolfenstein reboots of the last couple of years have had to be some of my favourite single player shooters. In recent years, there's just something very cathartic about its thematic material, and these games do an excellent job of making you feel like a certified badass. Great story, great gameplay, all you need now is a great controller and with the iconic red and black aesthetic the game brings, it's going to be a hot one.

Wolfenstein inspired controller

After making a few of these controllers I wanted to explore some of the brighter face plates, especially that neon green. As soon as I slapped it on the Minecraft vibes were thick and strong, so we added a blue sky and a dirt filled d-pad. I kept the thumbsticks black on this one because it feels the most practical. They shouldn't show up dirt as easily, which is important especially with a controller that may be more likely to be used by kids.

Minecraft inspired controller

Ok but the purple face plate also looked rocking, and harkened back to a faint memory from my youth. That was how this mess, otherwise known as the Space Cadet Pinball inspired controller was made. It feels like Xbox Design Labs could use a few different shades of purple to make this one's overall look work a little better, but it still carries some of those cosmic vibes. There's nothing like getting a new high score on a Windows 95 machine that certainly wouldn't support this controller.

Space Cadet Pinball inspired controller

Of course when it comes to PC classics there are plenty to choose from. However, perhaps none have quite as iconic a colour scheme as the much beloved Portal series. Slap some white on it, a dash of orange, and a splatter of blue, and finish it off with black and you've got yourself a machine that looks like it came right out of the Aperture Science labs. This Portal Gun themed controller would be the perfect companion for your PC cube.

Portal themed controller

Lastly, while we're in the throws of The International, it felt right to make a Dota 2 themed controller. With the wide success of the Netflix series Arcane, combined with the fact that controller support was added to the game just last Christmas, surely there's a sign here. Making a controller themed after your Dota fav is a great way to choose a colour scheme to work with, so I went with everyone's favourite explosive personality, Jinx.

Jinx inspired controller

It's worth noting that PlayStation has recently announced it's own elite controller competitor, so you might want to check that out before dropping hard cash. Though, even if you aren't necessarily ready to put the money down, playing with aesthetics in design lab is a pretty fun way to spend a work day. If you don't already have a theme in mind, choosing your favourite character or game to match it to can really help get those creative juices flowing. Just don't drop any on the controller, lest it permanently be demoted to player 2.

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