Microsoft has updated its Xbox Design Lab site that enables fans to customize their gamepads, and we’ve tested out some of the new materials, colors, and more. I’ll take you through the design process that led me to a handsome controller that is all my own. But I can confirm upfront that the Design Lab is totally worth it.
You may remember that I dug into the Xbox Design Lab and the updated 2016 Xbox One controller last year, and I came away impressed. The controller featured the most consistently resistant sticks and clickiest buttons yet as well as built-in Bluetooth support for easier PC gaming. This go around, Microsoft has improved the controller even further (the sticks are the best yet), and it has introduced new colors, metallic finishes, and rubberized grips. I chose all the new options that I could, and the end result looks like it is ready for Desert Storm.
Like before, the Xbox Design Lab lets you choose the color for your controller’s body, back, bumpers, triggers, D-pad, thumbsticks, face buttons, and menu buttons. The new colors include Desert Tan, Sierra Brown, Mineral Blue, and Ink Blue. You can pair the back color with a black rubberized grips, which Microsoft first introduced with its $70 Recon Tech Special Edition gamepad. You can also order the triggers and the D-pad with a metallic finish, which gives you the options for Warm Gold (instead of Desert Tan) and Bronze (instead of Sierra Brown).
You can see my controller above, where I went with the following options:
Body: Desert Tan
Back: Desert Tan with rubberized grips (+$6)
Bumpers: Military Green
Triggers: Metallic Military Green (+$4)
D-pad: Metallic Military Green (+$3)
Sticks: Sierra Brown
ABXY: Black on gray
View & Menu: Black on gray
My controller came to a total of $92.96, and Microsoft customized and had it to my home after a couple of days.
The experience of using Design Lab is still simple and understandable. You can’t go nuts and tie-dye your gamepad, but you have enough options to build a controller that you’ll want to take pride in because it’s one of a kind.
On top of that, the new options are gorgeous. The metallic D-pad and triggers really do stand out, and I wish I could get an Elite controller with the rubberized grips. They feel great, and they make the controller look almost like a weapon or firearm.
$93 is a lot of money, but you can get one for closer to $80 if you skip the rubberized grips and metallic finishes. Either way, though, gamepads are already expensive at $60. I think it’s worth another $30 or so to come away with a unique controller that you can take personalized ownership of.