Thrustmaster eSwap X2 Pro Controller Review

As gaming grows ever bigger, in some ways the most interesting battles aren’t the obvious ones between Sony and Microsoft or Quest 3 and PSVR 2, it’s the steadily building war between peripheral manufacturers. Just when you think someone has perfected a controller’s form or a headset’s audio, another company comes along and makes an even better one. The original eSwap X Pro was one of the best Pro-styled controllers out there, and now Thrustmaster are back with the second iteration, looking to firmly cement their professional-level device in your hands. They’ve done an excellent job.

The eSwap X2 is a customisable wired controller compatible with the Xbox family of consoles, PC and Mac. What makes it stand out is its modular design, with three removable and replaceable control units that you can move or change out in favour of something more suitable to what you want to play. There’s a range of different options available from Thrustmaster, from replacement sticks through to extra buttons to give you a six-button layout. There’s even a tiny steering wheel option for something truly unique.

In the box you’re getting a soft cloth carry case, the central X2 controller body, two next-generation analogue sticks, and a D-ippon mechanical D-pad unit, with the most obvious choice out of the box for your setup being either a standard Xbox asymmetrical stick layout or a symmetrical DualSense-styled one.

What’s fantastic is that there’s nothing to stop you switching between the two depending on the game you’re playing, so while I might prefer to play racing games asymmetrically, something just feels a little natural with the sticks opposite each other for FPS titles. You can even put two analogue sticks on the left, and your D-pad on the right, but… I haven’t found the benefit of that. If you do, well, more power to you, I suppose.

The other benefit is that if you have hammered the sticks on your controller to the point of no return, then you can replace them for a very reasonable £16.99 per module. There’s also alternative versions with LED lights for some further personalisation, and given that they’re held in with magnets swapping them around is unbelievably quick and easy. The only downside I suppose is that these aren’t Hall Effect sticks, so you will wear them out eventually, even if Thrustmaster state they have doubled the lifespan of the original eSwap sticks.

It’s hard to argue with the ease of the entire thing though, or of the business model it falls into, especially when it’s much more environmentally sound to replace a module that throw a whole controller out when you’ve had your use out of it. Even Hall Effect sticks will have a finite lifespan.

The X2 has a bunch of other inputs and features to keep even the most discerning customer happy. Alongside the buttons you’d expect, there are a further four inputs on the underside of the controller, with small circular inputs a clear difference maker compared to the chunky buttons of devices like the Steam Deck, or the detachable rods of the Xbox Elite range.

They are quite small, but you soon get used to where they lay under the tips of your fingers. I like this placement much better than those you find on the arm of the controller itself, and it’s all about teaching yourself where to press for your command.

There are mechanical switches throughout, including in the D-pad, and they’re claimed to be 64% faster than their membrane equivalent. That’s very difficult to test, but I can say they work quickly and efficiently, and they make that reassuringly lovely mechanical click every time you press them. Personally, this is great news, but they are definitely louder than you’ll find in a lot of controllers, and your loved ones may not be quite as easily impressed as you are. In fact, when playing late at night I had to swap to the official Xbox controller as the eSwap X2 was just too loud. If you play with a headset on, you’ll likely not notice.

There’s also a full suite of audio control buttons along the front face of the controller for wired headsets, with volume controls and a button to mute your microphone all easily accessible without reaching for an unseen control on your headphones. It was a perfect match for the Turtle Beach Elite Pro headset I often use as it has no built-in volume controls. Alongside them are the profile selection buttons and the mapping button, which allow you to switch between two setups and to change button mapping on the fly.

I played through an array of different titles with the eSwap X2 and first and foremost the controller is comfortable and ergonomic in your hands. Being able to swap out the location of the analogue sticks is a huge boon, and I played Forza Motorsport in an asymmetrical layout, relishing the response and smooth movement of the sticks. I then played most of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, and the challenging combat was made that little bit easier thanks to the reduced response times of the controller.

My third test subject was Overwatch 2, and I imagine a lot of competitive FPS players look to upgrade their controller in the hunt for a better K/D ratio. The eSwap X2 felt phenomenal here. There’s the option of using the analogue trigger lockouts – located on the underside of the controller – to shorten their motion and squeeze a few extra milliseconds out of your response time in combat. It certainly felt like that was working in action, and I had a merry time blasting hapless regular controller users to Kingdom Come (note: I cannot actually see into peoples’ houses to look at their controllers so this is pure conjecture).

Coming in at £150, the Thrustmaster eSwap X2 has fewer direct competitors on Xbox than you’ll find on the Sony side of the fence, but much of that is likely due to the Xbox Elite range that Microsoft put out themselves. It’s fair to say that the Elite II feels slightly more premium than the X2, but its extra weight can become tiring in the long run. There’s also the Victrix Gambit which has proven to be a reliable choice, but it’s far less premium feeling in the hand.

Neither of these options offer the X2’s party trick of moveable hardware either, meaning that it’s fundamentally unique beyond the original eSwap controller. If you already own that one there’s no immediate need to upgrade, not least because you can buy the newer eSwap modules like the D-ippon D-pad and the improved sticks and bung them into the older unit. This is the kind of business model we should all get behind.

The Thrustmaster eSwap X2 is an exceptional Pro controller, and its unique features mean that this could be the only controller you’ll ever need.
  • Adaptable and customisable
  • Exceptional reaction times
  • Comfortable for long play sessions
  • Mechanical switches are loud
  • No carry case
Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.