SCUF Infinity1 Xbox One ControllerPlatforms: Microsoft Xbox One
Like anyone who wants to take their hobby to the next level as a gamer the way you interface with your gaming medium of choice is the first logical step. Console gamers who want to improve their game will look at the basic pad and decide it's not enough. When it comes to the Xbox One most will turn to Microsoft's own Elite Controller which, while costly, offers trigger locks, mappable paddles and interchangeable thumbsticks and d-pad. However, you may be surprised to learn that most of the tech on the Elite was licensed from another peripheral maker, SCUF. If you're a big follower of eSports then you'll likely have heard of SCUF as they make the gamepads that vast swathes of pro-gamers use. The question is then, is it any good?
With a huge thanks going out to SCUF, we were sent one of their Infinity1 Dragons to put through its paces. It must be noted that this is their all-in version but one of the great things you can do over at SCUF's store is customise your Infinity1 to your liking. From the colour of the pad and buttons to the grips, thumbsticks as well as taking out the rumble packs. The range you choose will give you a basic set of features which you can expand upon at varying cost. The further up the range, the more that's included from the off and for those who follow some of SCUF's well known streamers or teams you can even get their licensed design. One of our main gripes with Microsoft's pad is that, while it comes with a lot in the box, there's no way of customising the colour scheme as the only pad available in their Design Lab program is the basic controller. Being able to choose or customise your controller in this way may seem silly to some but for many their controller is an extension of themselves and being able to inject some of your personality into something is a fun thing to do.
When we first picked up the Infinity1 and compared it to our Elite controller the similarities were easy to spot. Both utilise paddles on the rear of the controller (albeit in different locations), have trigger-locks to limit the travel of each of the triggers and the ability to change out some of the components. Much of the difference between the two is in their execution. For us, the biggest difference from our point of view is the location of the paddles. Microsoft chose to put them on the inside of the grips whereas SCUF has placed them on top of the battery housing. It was strange at first but the more we played and the more we got used to their location we started to see why SCUF put them there. With the paddles on the grip we would naturally place two of our digits to use them, with them on top of the battery pack we used just one and found that our reaction times were quicker.
This may seem counter-intuitive but our brain, at least, found it much easier to just move our middle finger around rather than trying to remember which of our two fingers did what on the Elite. When playing shooters this fraction of a second can be the difference between a kill or being killed and so for the twitch shooters among you this is a big deal. We also found the thumbsticks to be much smoother to use which translated to a much more responsive movement on-screen. It was no surprise then that as we fragged our way through many a Crucible match in Destiny 2 that we felt much more in control of our Guardian. Keeping with shooters for a moment, while both feature trigger-locks the Elite has it at a set depth. The Infinity1, on the other hand, allows you adjust the hair-triggers should you opt for SCUF's trigger system. Utilising the small screwdriver that was provided, we were able to set our right trigger just so in The Division so that only the slightest of presses was required to fire off a round. Again, this ability reduces the time taken to shoot at an opponent and therefore increases the chances of taking the kill.
One of the excellent features of the Infinity1 is the Electro-Magnetic Remapping (EMR). If you choose to add this option you gain the ability to remap controls to the paddles on the fly. Simply place the EMR mag key on the back of the pad, hold the paddle you wish to map then press the button you wish it to be. Let go of the button and then the paddle and you're done. You can't map the shoulder buttons unfortunately but you can map A, B, X, Y, left d-pad, right d-pad, left thumbstick down & tight thumbstick down. It may feel a touch clunky at first but once you get the hang of it, it's entirely possible to change a mapping mid-game. This is in stark contrast to the Elite which requires you to use a seperate app to sort your mappings. Yes you can save two to the controller and switch between them, which is cool, but if you decide to change anything about them you do have to leave your game. The EMR eliminates this and makes the process really simple to do too.
It's a shame then that swapping parts isn't quite as easy as remapping buttons. The Elite secures everything magnetically which allows for quick and easy swapping of components. The Infinity1 on the other hand requires, with the exception of the paddles, tools to adjust or remove. Whilst none of them were particularly tricky, if you decide to switch to a racing game say from a shooter, you'll need to swap out the trigger grips and the paddles which takes a bit of time. In contrast, on the Elite, you flip up the trigger locks and quickly switch out the paddles and away you go. It's a small gripe, sure, but it's worth nothing it's not a quick change on the Infinity1. Also worth noting, for racers, we found the paddles impossible to use for shifting. The location of the paddles on the Elite lend themselves naturally for shifting up and down for manual gears. We tried to do the same on the Infinity1 but it was uncomfortable and so we used automatic gears instead. The Infinity1 is a great pad to just race but for those among you who race sims and so forth may not find it the best of upgrades.
One thing that's rather important when picking up a premium pad is the build quality and we're glad to say that the build quality of the Infinity1 is excellent. Made from high grade grip material it feels solid in the hands and slightly lighter than the Elite. As mentioned, you can customise each facet of your pad but whatever you choose know that it will look and feel excellent. Having been used to the rubber grips of the Elite we weren't too sure how our pampered hands would feel on the hard plastic but our fears were soon allayed as we happily played our way through some long gaming sessions. One thing we're also certain of is that the Infinity1 will not suffer the bubbling grip issues that many an Elite controller has succumbed to including our own. Whilst we were lucky enough to get ours replaced others may not be so lucky and so having a pad that does not have this weakness may not be a bad thing especially given the cost of either controller.
Speaking of cost the Infinity1 is not cheap, starting out at just over £90 for the basic model and before adding any extra goodies. Whilst it compares favourably with the the Elite which comes in at £119.99 you get all the goodies with Microsoft's controller out of the box. If you decide to go for any of the more shinier models of the Infinity1, for example the Dragon version we were sent, you're looking at around £149 and you still don't get a carry case or a braided cable. Essentially, if you're looking for a controller that's better than the basic Xbox one pad and you don't need the bells & whistles then the Infinity1 is perfect and is priced competitively. However, once you start to add customisations the Elite becomes the more compelling option as there's more included for your outlay.
At the end of the day, like anything in life, it all comes down to preference and what your gaming diet mostly consists of. If you're a racer then you'll likely see appreciable benefits from picking up the Elite. However, beyond this, the Infinity1 is a compelling upgrade even for the most basic of games especially given that it's priced, in its basic form, below the Elite. Even though this rises when you customise it, if you're going to be playing anything that involves weapons and firing at opponents the ability to fine-tune things so exactly on the Infinity1 going with anything else just seems silly. Yes it's a shame that the extras cost but at the end of the day, if you're serious about your shooters, the competitive edge you gain, for some, will be worth the added cost.