Thrustmaster ESwapX Pro Controller Review: A Modular Controller For Next Level Customization
Pro controllers are the single best investment you can make as a console player. Brands like Scuf, Razer, and Evil are in an arms race to deliver a device that offers unparalleled precision, customization, and ergonomics. Thrustmaster’s newest contender is the eSwapX, a modular pro controller that combines the mouse-like buttons of the Razer Wolverine V2 with the mix-and-match parts of the Scuf Vantage 2. In some ways, the eSwapX manages to outdo the competition. Despite the modular sticks and d-pad, the eSwapX is actually less customizable than I expected. That said, it excels in all the ways that will matter to most players and stands out as a truly unique piece of hardware that’s worth considering when you make your next pro controller purchase.
The defining feature of the eSwapX is the T-MOD swappable sticks and buttons. A modular controller has some pretty obvious advantages. you can move the sticks into either an Xbox or Dualshock configuration, depending on what you’re used to, and even switch them back and forth based on the game you’re playing if you find one configuration favorable over another. I prefer my sticks together at the bottom, but I swapped the d-pad with the left stick to play Injustice 2 and realized that I actually prefer an Xbox configuration for fighting games. Moving sticks around probably isn’t going to be that common, but it means that the eSwapX can be used by anyone regardless of their configuration preference. It also makes it a great controller for sharing.
I was particularly intrigued by the modular system because it means easy replacement parts. As someone that has repaired Dualshock, Gamecube, and Joy-Con controllers, the notion that I can just buy a new stick or d-pad is mine wears out is fantastic. Considering the price of the eSwapX, I think this fact alone adds a ton of value.
The rest of the controller’s “pro” features aren’t totally unique to the eSwapX, but I’m impressed by them all the same. The face buttons have the same kind of mouse click feel that I raved about in my Wolverine V2 review, and they feel great on the eSwapX as well. I wish the d-pad had the same mouse click feel. The triggers have switches to put them into a hair-trigger mode, again like the Wolverine V2, but I have to say that the angle and shape of the triggers aren’t my favorite. The triggers can be easily removed with the tiny screwdriver that comes with the controller, but from what I’ve seen the other triggers Thrustmaster offers are just color swaps. I would like to see some options for wider, longer, or different shaped triggers in the future.
The eSwapX is a big controller. The grips extend quite deep into my palms and give it almost a DualSense-like feel. While it feels pretty great to hold, the size of the controller and the placement of the back buttons make for a pretty awkward hold for me. I’m a huge fan of back buttons, especially on the Vantage 2, but the eSwapX opts for four small buttons rather than long paddles that are easy to reach. I don’t really have a problem reaching the bottom buttons with my middle fingers but the top buttons require a grip readjustment that just doesn’t feel natural to me. I wish the back buttons were either further down on the grips or spaced further apart so I could comfortably reach them with my middle and ring fingers. I still use them because I’m used to them from other pro controllers, but they aren’t very easy to use.
Luckily, the buttons are very easy to customize. The controller has two profiles and a map button that can be used to very simply remap buttons by holding them at the same time. If you want to adjust things like trigger sensitivity, dead zones, and rumble intensity, you’ll need to use the Thrustmapper app.
Speaking of rumble, I noticed something odd about it that I was able to confirm by testing in Thrustmapper. The left side rumble is deep, bassy, and feels great, but the right side rumble is very shallow and almost whiny. I don’t know if the rumble packs are spaced differently on the left and right because of the T-Mods but there’s a huge difference between the left and the right.
Ultimately, the eSwapX has a ton of value in its customization and configuration, but it’s far from what I would consider the total package. It’s a wired controller, which will definitely turn some people off, but the removable cable is a nice touch. A lot of the buttons feel great, but not all of them, particularly the bumpers and d-pad. As far as customizable replacement parts, you can get either blue or green sticks, grips, triggers, and d-pads, but other than the color there’s no difference between them. Hopefully, there will be more T-Mods with different features in the future. If you’re looking at a pro controller like an investment, I think the eSwapX has a lot of potential to be the last pro controller you buy for the entire console generation because it offers replacement parts for the things are most likely to break. If the back buttons were easier to use and the rumble was better, there’s a good chance the eSwapX would be my controller of choice.
A Thrustmaster eSwapX was provided to TheGamer for this review. You can learn more about the eSwapX on the Thrustmaster website.
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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