While Ars Technica is in the loop about a lot of gamepad launches, we mostly look at gamepads that offer significant features and upgrades. Those features can boil down to accessibility, luxury, value, quirkiness, or dramatically new gimmicks.
In today’s case, however, I can’t help but gush over a controller that feels remarkably humdrum in some aspects, yet absolutely goes for it on an aesthetic basis. If you pine for ’90s-era interfaces when loud colors and transparent plastic ruled the gamepad fray, this week’s launch of the Forza Horizon 5 Xbox Wireless Controller is for you.
The new controller’s box. [credit:
Sam Machkovech ]
This official variant of the Xbox Wireless Controller (the name of the gamepad’s latest, Series X-adjacent revision, complete with a “share” button) comes at an MSRP of $74.99. The $15 premium over the default gamepad’s MSRP is primarily thanks to a very loud and unique color design, which largely resembles the colorful video game of the same name. (Otherwise, this works just like other XWCs, and it includes compatibility with both the Xbox 2.4 GHz wireless standard and Bluetooth.) The entire front face consists of transparent, yellow plastic, though roughly half of this is covered with a handsomely laser-printed paint splatter. The fact that the design looks as sharply printed as the facsimile on the box is a testament to whatever printing process Microsoft is using for its gamepads.