There’s no shortage of premium controllers on the market right now, especially on PC and Xbox. But the Thrustmaster eSwap XR Pro Controller Forza Edition, aside from looking rather snazzy, has a rather unique feature that makes it stand out. But is it enough for you to prioritise this wired £179.99 option over the competition?
Open up the rather impressive box for the Thrustmaster eSwap XR Pro Controller Forza Edition, and you’re instantly greeted with what you’d expect a controller to look like considering its branding. It’s bold and a bit brash, with flourishes of bright pink and multiple Forza Horizon logos not letting you forget the game for one second. Also adorning the handgrips are black textured patches that look like they’ll give you extra grip. They don’t though: it’s just an impressive effect.
It’s when you get the eSwap XR Pro controller out of the box and start fiddling with it that you might start to appreciate it. And it’s all thanks to its modular design. You see, aside from the staple face buttons – A,B,X,Y – the position of everything else on the front can be customised. If you’re used to playing with a PlayStation controller, for example, you can have both analogue sticks close together at the bottom of the controller if you wish. And truly unique to the eSwap XR Pro is the option to install a racing wheel module.
It looks a bit strange, a tiny little racing wheel that you essentially mount into a controller, but it works rather well. And of course, it works in other racing games as well as Forza Horizon 5, giving you more precise control when tackling corners. It’s up to you where you put it. You could have it typically where the d-pad would be, or perhaps have it replace the left analogue stick. Whichever you choose, you typically don’t lose any functionality; four buttons on the rear of the controller replace the d-pad if that’s out of action, for example.
On the subject of buttons, the four face buttons on the controller seem a little weird at first. They don’t have as much give in them as standard Xbox buttons – they don’t feel as spongey. It’s perhaps because they’re mechanical rather than membrane based, which means they’re much more responsive. In fact, pretty much all inputs on the controller feel more premium versus a standard controller, with the exception of the bumpers – they’re a bit too plasticky and clicky for our liking.
While it’s a feature not all that useful for racing games, individual locks are available for the extra grippy triggers so that they have less travel – useful for those who also like to play a bit of competitive Call of Duty or Fortnite. And along the bottom portion of the controller, surrounding the mic port, you’ll find volume up/down and mic mute buttons, as well as a duo of profile buttons and another that lets you access a mapping feature. Needless to say, the eSwap XR Pro puts a lot of control at your fingertips, and allows you to fine-tune it for whatever you find yourself playing.
Being an Xbox controller, the eSwap XR Pro is of course also compatible with PC. Here, its abilities can be taken to the next level by installing the ThrustmasterX software. Handily accessible via the Xbox menu once installed, the software gives you impressive control over many of the controller’s functions and features, going so far as to allowing you to adjust the sensitivity of the analogue sticks and more.
Taking all this into consideration, it’s probably not all that surprising that the eSwap XR Pro controller is great to use. It fits wonderfully in your hands, and despite its all-plastic construction which doesn’t look all that premium, it’s very solid and well-built. Throw in the wealth of customisation features, and you have a controller that’s easy to get attached to, and can genuinely improve your performance in a range of games, not only Forza Horizon 5.
As with most third party controllers, though, it comes with a big caveat: the lack of wireless functionality. You’ll need to have the controller connected to your Xbox console or PC with a cable to use it, which for some will seem like a step backwards. The good news is that the included cable is some 3 metres long, which gives you plenty of room, and it’s braided, too. When not in use, you can even store it in the included pouch, which is also handy for storing the module removal tool that’s included. Thrustmaster has thought of everything.
Further customisable with a range of modules available at an additional cost, the Thrustmaster eSwap XR Pro controller Forza Edition is a great option for those who want to stand out from the crowd. More importantly, its functionality can also be adjusted to your needs to a degree not matched by the competition. And so, while it may be expensive, especially for a controller that’s wired, it’s well worth your consideration if you’re on the market for a premium device for either Xbox or PC. Other controllers may look less garish, or look and feel like they have better build quality, but none have quite the number of options that this gives you.
Thanks to Thrustmaster for providing a sample of the Thrustmaster eSwap XR Pro Controller Forza Edition for the purposes of this review.