There is a certain vibe that the new MOGA XP-Ultra Xbox Controller is putting down, and it took me a few days to put my finger on it. You know how in 1960's spy movies (or The Incredibles, or G.I. Joe, or GTA 5 Online) everyone has these amazing vehicles that look like cars, but they can drive right into the ocean and continue forward as submarines? And then, if they get stranded on an island or a secret base or something, the hero will pull a lever and wings will pop out of the sides, and the whole contraption will take to the sky like a plane? That's the MOGA XP-Ultra. It's the Xbox controller version of a car-submarine-plane.
The MOGA XP-Ultra is made expressly for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate fans - the type that play game Pass games on PC, Xbox, and mobile. And just like the car-submarine-plane, the MOGA XP-Ultra is capable of shifting effortlessly between all three of these modes of play. It may be a little bit ridiculous and over-the-top, but it is also slick as hell.
The MOGA XP-Ultra comes nicely packaged in a box with the controller/contraption itself, a phone clip, and a very nice 3 meter braided USB-C cord. I immediately gave the controller the side eye upon opening the box, suspecting that it would feel light or that it might somehow rattle when I picked it up. But upon pulling it from the packaging, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the XP-Ultra feels just as solid as a the pack-in Xbox Series controller - maybe even a little more so. There is a bit of weight to the XP-Ultra, but it feels balanced in your hands, and unless you were looking down at it, you would never suspect that you were holding a Decepticon.
The MOGA XP-Ultra is the first third-party Xbox controller to be able to function wirelessly with Xbox consoles, which immediately sets it above and beyond just about every other premium third-party controller on the market. I have both a Series X and a Series S in my place, so I tried out both methods to sync the XP-Ultra. I synced it with my Series S by holding down the buttons on both the console and the controller. With the Series X, I just plugged the controller into the console with the USB cord and let it sync that way. Both techniques worked just fine. Once synced wirelessly, I played a number of games on both consoles, and didn't notice any difference in performance between the XP-Ultra and the standard first-party controllers. There was no lag, and certainly no issues with maintaining a connection. The rumble feels great, just like the original controller. The XP-Ultra is able to fire up your console with the Xbox button just fine. Obviously syncing it to one console cancelled out the previous sync, so in the end I left it attached to my Series X, which is my primary console.
The controller feels perfectly natural while playing. The buttons and analog sticks are nice and springy, with decent resistance on the triggers. The button layout is close enough to the actual Xbox controller that after a few moments of playing with the XP-Ultra, I forgot that I was playing with a third-party controller. It just feels right in your hands. There are a couple of programmable buttons on the handgrips, which are situated about where my ring fingers naturally land. I messed around with them enough to confirm functionality, but I don't typically use programmable buttons, so, you know, they're fine.
Additionally, there is a handy-dandy battery gauge on the front of the controller, which allows you to see how much charge is left with the tap of a button. The controller boasts a 40-hour battery, which can be charged via the included cord. There are four little lights to indicate battery level. I have been using the controller almost exclusively during my test period, and I've yet to see the top light blink out, so take that as you well. Bottom line, if you are sick of the constant Xbox battery shuffle, this controller might solve some of those issues for you.
So yes, a perfectly good Xbox controller with a few additional bells and whistles. But what makes it special? How about the fact that it can wirelessly connect to both PCs and Android devices? Or that it has the ability for players to slide a little lever on the bottom of the controller to extract a "mini" version of the Xbox controller from the handgrips? Madness, I tell you.
Let's start with the mini-pad functionality. The entirety of the gamepad slides right out of hand grips, giving players a smaller, more portable version of the Xbox controller. This includes everything but the programmable buttons - which I don't really care about anyhow. The triggers, the d-pad, even the headphone jack - the whole enchilada just comes sliding out. I suppose that this would enable someone to slip the controller in their pocket for easy travel, or make it more convenient to pack. The main use case that I can see for the mini controller though is how nicely it fits into the phone clip, which allows for ease when streaming Game Pass games to an Android phone.
I tried this out with my Pixel 6A, and while I don't normally play this way (streaming to my phone, that is), I can see how this might be nice for people with long commutes. Obviously, those with Apple devices are kinda out in the cold here, but players with Android devices will find that the XP-Ultra syncs up to them quickly and easily. Frankly, I've always found the whole controller/phone clip thing a little awkward, and when testing out this combo, I found that I didn't have as much leverage as I would have liked. My phone outweighed the controller a bit, or at least the balance felt off which was causing me to have to grip the controller harder than I was comfortable with. Luckily, the phone clip works just as well with the controller back in the handgrip shell, which I liked a lot better.
The XP Ultra can also sync wirelessly with a PC, closing the loop on the last way to play Game Pass games. Again, I tried this out for the sake of the review and found it to be quick and easy. But frankly, I sit right in front of my PC while using it for gaming, so I'm totally okay with using the USB cord while playing with the XP-Ultra. That way I can charge the controller while I'm playing with it, without losing the sync on my Series X. Happy days all around.
The MOGA XP-Ultra retails for $120, which feels like a lot for a controller. But when you start to consider the versatility of this device and the amount of engineering work that likely went into making it, that price point starts to make a little more sense. The controller itself is rock solid, and there's a fair amount of fun to be had when showing it off to friends. While I don't personally game in every way the XP-Ultra provides for, the controller is able to adapt itself to the ways that I do play, and likely to all the ways that you play too. This is going to be my primary controller on my PC and Xbox Series X going forward, which is saying a lot. If you have the coin to spare, you definitely get a lot here for your money. Yes, the MOGA XP-Ultra is a luxury item, but it does indeed feel damn luxurious.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, PS5, PS4, PSVR, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host Spielberg Chronologically, where we review every Spielberg film in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.
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