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In the three years since the Microsoft Xbox Series X and S launched, device makers have delivered all of the accessories you'd want for a modern console. Extra SSD storage is cheaper than ever and you've also got a slew of controller options (especially if you're trying to avoid drifting thumbsticks). There are also more wireless headset choices available now, which offer an easy way to make your gameplay sound more immersive. Here are some of our recommendations for leveling up your Xbox experience.
Game Pass Ultimate remains one of the best deals in gaming. For $16.99 a month, you get access to a large library of games on Xbox and PC (including day-one access to Microsoft titles), online play, and cloud gaming across a variety of devices. If you own an Xbox, it makes more sense to subscribe to Game Pass Ultimate for a year instead of buying a few full-priced games. And while the recurring cost may seem high, you'll be sold the first time you play Forza Horizon 5 or Halo Infinite on your phone, tablet or computer.
We're big fans of Microsoft's Elite Series 2 Controller, but their high price sometimes makes them hard to recommend. That's where the Elite Series 2 Core comes in: It's basically just the higher-end controller without any of its additional accessories (you can purchase extra thumbsticks and other components down the line). Still, you'll get a more premium build quality than the standard Xbox gamepad, and you'll also be able to customize your gameplay experience with adjustable triggers. If you're more than a casual gamer, you'll notice the difference.
8BitDo's Ultimate wireless controller is one of our favorite third-party gamepads for the Nintendo Switch and PC, thanks to its comfortable design, rear buttons and Hall Effect sensor joysticks (which avoid drifting). The Xbox version has all of those features – except the ability to go completely wireless. Still, even with a cable, the Ultimate controller is one of the best options around for the Xbox, especially since it's often on sale for far less than wireless alternatives.
If you're more interested in playing older games, or are just looking for a different style of controller, we're also huge fans of 8BitDo's Pro 2. It's incredibly comfortable, and its directional pad is one of the best on the market. It also makes a great controller for PC gaming (though any recent Xbox controller will also work on computers over Bluetooth).
If you play Microsoft Flight Simulator long enough, you'll realize you can only go so far with a standard gamepad. Time for a flight stick! After conferring with flying simulator fanatics, and perusing plenty of reviews, we'd recommend jumping on Thrustmaster's T-Flight Hotas One joystick. It offers realistic five-axis control, 14 buttons and a detachable throttle. And unlike some clunky PC solutions, it's compact enough to fit on a coffee table or lap desk. (You can also use it with a computer, if you'd like.)
If you're more into cars, we were impressed by Logitech's G923 racing wheel. Add it to your gaming setup and it'll feel like a genuine steering wheel, with a comfortable grip, steel paddle shifters, and a trio of solid pedals. Once it's clamped to a table, it delivers a surprisingly realistic driving experience – all the better to tear through Mexico in Forza Horizon 5. It's definitely pricey at $400, but it's a high-quality investment that'll last for many racing games to come.
If you were lucky enough to nab a new Xbox Series X or S at launch, chances are you're already familiar with their storage limitations. Luckily, you can easily give yourself a bit more breathing room with one of Seagate's storage expansion cards, which are just as fast as the speedy SSDs inside the consoles. In addition to the 1TB card that arrived at launch, Seagate also recently unveiled 512GB and 2TB options. We'd recommend going for 1TB at this point, especially since its price has fallen to $150. But if you can afford it, the 2TB SSD will certainly last longer.
You can also connect traditional, external hard drives, like Seagate's 2TB Game Drive, to the Xbox Series X and S over USB. They're far too slow to run current-gen games at their full speed, but they give you a boatload of storage for a much cheaper price. They're useful to have around for playing games from the original Xbox, as well as the 360. And they can also be used as "cold storage" to free up space on your precious SSD. Newer games can easily move back and forth between those drives, which prevents you from having to download them again.
You deserve better than experiencing your video game via crummy TV speakers. While you could just plug in whatever wired headphones you have laying around into your Xbox controller, we'd recommend investing in a wireless gaming headset. They'll likely sound better, and they remove the whole cord problem entirely. The SteelSeries Arctis 9X is one of the best Xbox wireless headset options around, with beefy drivers, a comfortable fit and sturdy build quality. We were impressed during our hands-on testing, as they sounded just as good as the company's excellent Arctis Pro PC headphones.
Tired of controlling Netflix playback with your controller? Then pick up 8BitDo's Media Remote. Available in long and short designs (the latter removes numbers and other extraneous buttons), they're well-made remotes that fit the Xbox's clean aesthetic and, with their low price point, they're an excellent value. I've been using the short model to control 4K Blu-rays and tons of streaming apps, and it's far easier to use than a controller when it comes to quickly fast-forwarding. Now, I don’t have to put my drink down to skip to another chapter.