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Shiny New Xbox Controller Adds A Subtle Upgrade

The latest special-edition Xbox Series X/S controller adds colorful rubber

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Image of a blue Xbox Series X/S controller against the backdrop of the Northern Lights.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft’s latest special-edition controller for the Xbox Series X/S is called “Aqua Shift” and it comes out August 31. In addition to looking like a moonbeam shot through the ocean surf, it has a new rubberized panel to help you keep hold of it even when your hands start to sweat. At long last, no more slipped chainsaw takedowns in Gears of War.

“Aqua shift is the first Special Edition Xbox Series X|S controller to feature rubberized side grips with a unique dual color swirl on every unit,” reads the Microsoft blog post announcing it. “Textured grip on the triggers, bumpers, and back case makes sure you stay connected to the game no matter how intense things get.”

Front and back view of the new Aqua Shift Xbox Series X/S controller.
Image: Microsoft

I normally make fun of marketing copy like this, but there I was just last night white-knuckling my controller in the final boss fight for Death’s Door.

This is the third Series X/S we’ve gotten since the consoles released. Before Aqua Shift was Electric Volt, Daystrike Camo, Night Ops Camo, and Sport Blue. And of course Microsoft recently brought back the Xbox Design Lab, letting you come up with all sorts of other custom color combinations.


None of those have the Aqua Shift’s additional rubber panel on each side grip though. In that regard it’s angling in the direction of something like the Elite Series 2 without the added price tag. Time will tell how well the rubber actually holds up. People have reported issues with the rubber on some Elite Series controllers in the past, but that seems to have been mostly in cases where the rubber was separate from the underlying plastic panel.

More importantly, the dang thing looks like a controller made out of melted down glittery Hot Wheels and I love it. Every peripheral needs a sparkle option so let’s go Playstation and Nintendo, show us what you got.