It’s time to play with an all-new spectrum
The positive side of Microsoft: a controller just the way you want it
Given that the controller is your point of contact with a game console, the fact that Microsoft’s move to offer Xbox Design Lab – a service that lets you create custom controllers in all sorts of colour combinations – hasn’t happened before now is kind of shocking. The console era has endured for nearly 45 years, and in all that time the best we could hope for with controllers were a few post-launch alternative colour schemes, gimmicky translucent versions, and an unending stream of rush-designed game tie-ins. That’s not to say Design Lab, in the wrong hands, isn’t capable of throwing out monstrosities, but that is the beauty of choice: Microsoft claims that eight million combinations are possible.
Design Lab lets you swap the colours of the controller face, back, bumpers and triggers, D-pad, thumbsticks, face buttons and even the View and Menu buttons. There are 15 colour options for the casing and D-pad, a further eight for the thumbsticks, and a handful of choices for the buttons. We’re particularly partial to the Glacier Blue and Oxide Red casing shades, although there is something gleeful in creating a garish monstrosity to honour the most hideous unofficial controllers of the PS1/N64 era. Once you’ve finished your masterpiece, you can view it as a 3D model to check that all those combinations are working in harmony (or not).
The controller in question will be the new Xbox One S pad, which features textured grips and a slightly sleeker design. Preorders are open now for customers in the US and Canada, with shipping set for 2016, but other markets, including the UK, will have to hold on until 2017 – although it’s possible to play around with the design tools today wherever you are. At $80, the pads are a little on the pricey side, and you’ll have to stump up an additional $10 if you want a laser-etched engraving, but given the logistics involved compared to a traditional unit, the hike isn’t surprising. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed whether the Elite controller will follow suit, but given its focus on bespoke customisation and its heavyweight pricetag, it’s surely only a matter of time.