SteelSeries Stratus XL Review

Thomas Wellburn
February 7, 2017

The SteelSeries Stratus XL is a solid controller that works well for Android games, despite blatantly copying a very familiar design from a certain console.

There’s a lot of reasons on why mobile phone gaming will not replace traditional handheld console gaming, a big one is the controller. Very few ‘real games’ have made it onto smartphone screens as only certain genres crossover well on touchscreen. Turn-based strategy games like the Final Fantasy series worked out due to the slower pacing. Racing games have done well making great use of gyroscopes to provide a new and immersive experience.

What you won’t really find is action heavy games that require constant control and attention. Last year we saw Bioshock pulled from the App Store due to compatibility issues. Which basically means it did not play well at all on a touchscreen. To be fair this was the developer’s fault, there are plenty of First Person Shooter (FPS) titles for smartphones that handle a lot better. But not with the accuracy you demand from a FPS.

Steelseries are aiming to sort this problem out with the SteelSeries Stratus XL. Already released for iOS Steelseries has now brought it over to Android and Windows. Strangely enough Steelseries has gone for a different look for the Android/Windows version. Steelseries seemed to have cut back on this version, the four buttons on the right of the pad does not have that Xbox One inspired colour scheme, leaving them a bland grey. A massive shame as the coloured buttons gave it some character. Glossy stripes on the grips have also been removed in what appears to be a cost saving measure. It was worryingly pointing towards Steelseries putting less effort into this iteration, thankfully internally the controller performs spot on.

We can’t avoid the fact that the SteelSeries Stratus XL looks almost exactly the Xbox One controller from the grips to the shoulder buttons, it’s not very original at all.

We can’t avoid the fact that the SteelSeries Stratus XL looks almost exactly the Xbox One controller from the grips to the shoulder buttons, it’s not very original at all. You can forgive them for the massive plagiarism in design as Microsoft has got the perfect controller design. Probably shouldn’t invest such heavy words as we’ve said the same thing about the Xbox 360 controller, and Microsoft went off and made a better one (Xbox One).

Performance is excellent with the responsive controls that you’d expect. It’s almost as accurate as a home console controller, but you can’t really expect it to be on that level. Playing Asphalt 8 was perfect; drifting through tight spots and jumping off ramps had never felt so much easier. With the new found accuracy Asphalt 8 became easier and it just became mantra to annihilate your opponents.

The same can’t be said for FPS titles unfortunately as Android titles were not developed with the full motion of a joystick in mind. The controls are comparable to System Shock 2, meaning you can’t move instinctively diagonally. You’re required to almost pivot in one spot and then proceed in the direction you desire. Dead Trigger 2 was really guilty of this whilst Dead Effect 2 wasn’t as bad but it is apparent.

This is no fault of the pad, Steelseries has developed a well-made control pad that heightens mobile gaming. The only complaint we have is the high price point, it’s more expensive than an Xbox One controller.


About the Author

Share this article