For the most part we associate Thrustmaster with some of the most complex of third party gaming accessories. That’s a point hammered home when you consider that we’ve previously been hands on with their T248 Wheel for racing or the T.Flight Full Kit X for when we decide to take to the skies. Hell, you can go back to 2017 and read our thoughts concerning the Thrustmaster Y-360X 7.1 Powered Ghost Recon Wildlands Edition Headset for Xbox if you want to know how complicated things are – even that name scares us silly.
But that’s not stopping Thrustmaster from continuing to make a name for themselves and with the eSwap X Pro Controller for Xbox, they are carrying on their mantra. And although this one certainly feels complex from the outside, getting hands on and enjoying what it is able to provide to your gaming sessions is something of joy.
Build. Program. Adjust. Rearrange. That’s how Thrustmaster sell the eSwap X Pro and we weren’t particularly sure we’d get on with that range of motion; the sheer amount of customisation it allows is beyond something that would usually be of appeal. But even though we’ve not gone as deep with this one as is humanly possible – the amount of customisation available is pretty high – as a standard Xbox controller it does the job well. In fact, it does the job better than many.
A beefy old unit, the Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro controller feels pretty nice in hand. It’s a little bigger than a normal Xbox Wireless Controller, but is of a very nice weight, coming in at some 319 grams. It does of course come with all the usual Xbox buttons and features you’d expect; a couple of thumbsticks, a very nice D-Pad, face buttons, Menu, View and Share and the requisite triggers and bumpers. If you’re at all familiar with an Xbox controller, you’ll be right at home with the eSwap X.
But then Thrustmaster do more, ensuring those who want to customise things can do so. We’d go as far as to say that this is the easiest and most customisable controller we’ve ever been hands-on with – whether you’re bored of the usual set-up or need to switch up for personal reasons, Thrustmaster have you covered.
So what can you do with the eSwap X Pro? Well, a modular design is present here and held in place via a series of strong magnets are side grips, the D-Pad itself and both thumbsticks. They all slide into place, gripping with ease, removable in a matter of seconds with zero tools required. On a personal level we’re not sure why, but should you then wish to switch the D-Pad positioning for the left thumbstick for example, making this Xbox controller more in line with a PS5 controller, you can do so. Hell, you can even move that D-Pad over to the other side of the pad, replacing the right thumbstick should you so wish. Again, why? Well, we’re not here to tell you how to play your games, and neither does it seem are Thrustmaster.
However you have things set-up, this is a brilliant controller to use. It’s highly tactile both in terms of how things are in hand as well as in regards to the micro-switched buttonry, with pretty much everything feeling great to touch. Thumbsticks are extremely clickable and whilst the face buttons don’t depress as much as we are used to, rarely will you ever miss a beat.
It’s a similar story in terms of the trigger and bumpers too. The triggers don’t just look great with a metallic take on things – complementing the D-Pad and thumbstick surrounds – but they have a bit of texturing to ensure that there is little chance of you slipping off the vitals as the heat rises. They are also switched, so if you want less – or more – travel, you can enjoy it. The triggers are also swappable should you need even more personalisation with Thrustmaster dealing with a number of various coloured accessory packs. The bumpers are equally nice, again brilliantly clickable and allow you to situate your fingers in position, ready to fire. Just be aware, those bumpers are pretty loud in use.
Built nicely into the slice-of-pie shaped apron of the Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro Controller is the usual smattering of Xbox feature buttons. Menu and View are both well placed, but it’s pretty strange to see the Nexus button and that of Share switched up from the norm. That’s not a bad thing, but it does take a little getting used to – we won’t disclose the amount of times we’ve shared a screenshot when we’ve been scrabbling around for the Xbox dashboard. It is what it is though and the design of this area, with the Thrustmaster logo adorning it, has been put together well.
So what else do we have? Well, much like pretty much every third party controller that comes to the Xbox scene these days, around the back sees four programmable buttons. Circular in shape, these certainly aren’t as immediately hittable as something like the paddles on the back of an Elite Series 2 controller, but they do the job nonetheless. We’ve found that our middle fingers sit on the 3rd and 4th buttons by default, moving up to the 1st and 2nd when the time calls for it. It feels a little strange saying that, but at the end of the day it’s not something that would ever be an issue.
Programming those buttons is a cinch. It works in conjunction with two different controller profiles, both actioned via a series of buttons on the front face of the controller. A simple press of one of these, followed by the MAP button and then depressing the buttons you wish to allocate takes a matter of seconds. It’s a really neat system that works near flawlessly.
Alongside those profile and MAP buttons on the front are a 3.5mm audio jack port, a mic mute and volume controls. We’ve long been fans of on-controller audio controls, ensuring that you never need to remove your hands from the controller in order to sort things out, and those in place on Thrustmaster’s eSwap X Pro controller are equally good.
And if you really need it, downloading the ThrustmapperX app from the Xbox Store gives the opportunity to bring even more changes.
As with anything though, perfection isn’t quite found with the Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro Controller. For many, the fact that this is a wired controller will immediately put them off, even if the braided cable that runs between console and controller is a decent length at some 300cm in length. More still will point to the fact that Thrustmaster are utilising a Micro-USB port for that cable – honestly, we’re in the 2020’s now and there should be no sign of Micro-USB being left anywhere on this earth. Stick some USB-C in there please Thrustmaster.
Aside from that cable though, there’s not too much to dislike about what Thrustmaster have put together with the eSwap X Pro Controller for Xbox. This is a well configured controller that comes with a host of customisable options, ensuring that the individual gamer can make it their own. Many may never feel the need to make use of all of its systems and we’re personally on the side of those who run this as default straight out of the box (although we may slap some colour on it via an official kit), but if you’re in the market for a simple-to-use yet complex-should-you-wish controller, it’s the Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro controller that should be in your hands.
Huge thanks go out to Thrustmaster for providing us with their eSwap X Pro Controller for Xbox for review. You can visit Thrustmaster direct if you wish to pick a unit up for yourself; expect to pay around $179. If you like what you find, a number of accessory kits in various colours are also present. Green Camo or Orange Crystal, anyone?