While a standard, pack-in controller will do the trick for the majority of players, those that take their gaming seriously, or even compete professionally, demand a bit more from their gamepads. This usually means forking out for high-cost pro-grade customisable controllers. But the new 8BitDo Pro 2 Wired Controller for Xbox offers lots of the same sort of functionality at much lower cost.
Taking its cues from the equally-excellent 8BitDo Pro 2 controller, this wired version for Xbox consoles (One, Series X and Series S) is a great choice for cash-strapped gamers who want to take greater control over their in-game performance, thanks to some excellent customisation options.
Price and availability
The 8BitDo Pro 2 Wired Controller for Xbox is available now, and costs just $44.99 / £39.99.
Though its wired nature naturally will make it more affordable than wireless counterparts, the lowered latency from a wired connection can be a plus point for pro gamers. And in comparison to pro-grade controllers with similar functionality like the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 ($160 / £160), Scuf Instinct ($180 / £180) or Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma ($150 / £150), it’s a steal.
Though it follows the look of official Xbox hardware in terms of color, the 8BitDo Pro 2 Wired Controller for Xbox is very different from your average Xbox pad. With symmetrical analogue sticks sat below the D-Pad and face buttons, it’s closer to a PlayStation pad than the go-to Xbox controller design.
It also feels a little smaller too – though its 318g weight isn’t exactly a mini or compact controller, it still feels as though those with smaller hands would appreciate its size.
You’ll find all the regular X, Y, B and A buttons as well as the shoulder, trigger, Share, Menu, Start and Xbox buttons. But you’ll also find a discrete Star button and Profile button for tweaking button mapping settings, either side of the sticks, and an additional two buttons within easy access on the rear of the controller handles which can be mapped to emulate any other button on the pad.
There’s great travel to the buttons and satisfying clicks to the shoulders, though a tad more tension on the sticks would personally have been appreciated, and a little extra length on the cable (just below 10 feet) would be better for those playing in larger spaces sitting further from their consoles.
What is absolutely exemplary about the 8BitDo Pro 2 Wired Controller for Xbox however is its D-Pad. Large, responsive and similar to what you’d find on a Nintendo pad, it’s fantastic for fighting games, 2D titles and retro classics. It makes for a particularly compelling controller on PC, where emulation opens the pad up to decades of classic titles built for a good D-Pad.
Rounding off the design is a 3.5mm headphone jack on the lower side of the pad, between the thumb sticks.
Despite being a wired controller, the 8BitDo Pro 2 for Xbox does have a secret Bluetooth connection. But rather than connecting a console, its sole purpose is to connect to an accompanying 8BitDo Ultimate Software app while your pad is plugged into an Xbox or PC.
With the app open, you’re then given the option of tweaking the button mapping, stick sensitivities and deadzones, trigger actuation ranges, and the intensity of the pad’s rumble feature. You can even swap the sticks for southpaws, invert stick directions and “swap” the D-Pad and Left Stick inputs for a more Xbox-like style – though you’re obviously not going to get analogue-level of control from the digital D-Pad. The app is self-explanatory and easy to use compared to similar apps and pads, with visual cues making it clear to see what changes are being made.
However, there’s a missed trick in that buttons can’t be assigned ‘Shift’ functions to give them a secondary purpose in combination with the grip-buttons, nor can macro button press sequences be saved nor simultaneously button press combinations. It’d really elevate the utility of the controller if available, particularly for PC players with games where hotkeys can be both useful and numerous.
It’s worth noting that even without the app, you can still do some remapping of buttons on the controller itself. Press and hold any two buttons and then push the ‘Star’ button and that will swap their functions, while holding the ‘Profile’ button down and pushing up or down on the D-Pad will tweak volume levels, while doing the same with left or right on the D-Pad tweaks game and chat balance.
Should I buy the 8BitDo Pro 2 Wired Controller for Xbox?
Buy it if...
You’re on a budget
Though wired controllers tend to be cheaper generally, the 8BitDo Pro 2 pad offers great pro-level features and hardware construction beyond what you’d expect from its price tag.
You want mappable buttons
With a simple-to-use app and on-controller remapping functions, the 8BitDo Pro 2 Wired Controller for Xbox is highly customisable, and easy even for beginners to tweak to their liking.
You prefer Sony-style thumbsticks
Side-by-side sticks are the design of choice for PlayStation players, and this is one of the best ways to get that configuration on Xbox.
You’ve smaller hands
The 8BitDo Pro 2 Wired Controller for Xbox isn’t a mini pad, but it’s smaller than your standard Xbox controller, making it a good choice for those with smaller hands.
Don't buy it if...
You like asymmetrical sticks
This pad doesn’t follow the standard Xbox controller layout, meaning you’re going to need to look elsewhere for offset sticks.
You want preset combos or turbo functions
Though the remapping software is handy, it can’t be used to add pre-configured combos, secondary function shifts or simultaneous button presses to a single button.
Your console is far away from where you sit
If your console is sat in a TV unit more than 3 meters from your couch, you’re going to need to pull your sofa up close as the cable is a little short of 10-feet long.