This officially licensed Thrustmaster ESWAP XR Pro Controller Forza Horizon 5 Edition is unlike any controller you have seen before.
On top of the swappable modules, flashy hot pink paint scheme and abundant customisability, lies an all-new unique element. The ‘Racing Module’ could be described as a steering wheel for your controller, making this a potent ideal option for racing game fans who aren’t looking for a full-size wheel and pedal set.
What is a Thrustmaster Eswap gamepad?
Aside from this new module, the XR Pro Horizon 5 Edition is much like the existing offerings from the ESWAP range for PC and Xbox. These controllers are designed to be functional and adaptable, allowing the user to swap the positions of the analogue sticks and D-pads to suit their personal preferences.
It also comes with software, for PC, that allows you to save custom profiles and important characteristics such as sensitivity curves and deadzones.
Despite initially feeling a little on the cheap side to the touch, the controller comes into its own once in use.
The buttons and bumpers have a distinctly positive actuation, giving you the edge in competitive situations whilst the triggers and analogue sticks are also a clear step up from the standard Xbox controller. All in all, I’d say the controller in its regular form, is stylish and functional whilst falling short of a truly premium feel.
It also allows you to change the position of the analogue sticks, from diagonal to horizontal, if you prefer.
A miniaturised steering wheel
As a racing game outlet, however, the main focus has to be on the racing module, which is essentially a mini steering wheel.
The wheel itself can rotate 95 degrees and has a serrated-style grip around the perimeter to give you as much control as possible over your inputs.
Precision isn’t immediately easy to come by, however… This will take a bit of getting used to! The rotation is smooth with no notchiness and a self-centering mechanism to give you that small sense of resistance.
This feels nothing like a force feedback steering wheel, but then again, not that you should expect it to.
The limited rotation means you cannot treat this in the same way you would a full-size version. Every minuscule adjustment you make will result in an exaggerated change of trajectory, given the relative steering ratio. For that reason, this racing module feels closer in its application to a traditional analogue stick than a wheel, something that may come as an unsurprising disappointment.
Which games work best?
After testing the controller across a number of racing titles, I found the Thrustmaster Eswap XR Pro Controller’s Racing Module suited certain situations better than others.
Quick and precise direction changes were tricky to get the hang of initially, but after decades of familiarity with an analogue stick, this is somewhat inevitable. I did begin to get comfortable a few sessions down the line and eventually felt as if I could have matched my regular pace.
When it came to drifting on Forza Horizon 5 however, I felt the racing module was an instant and tangible improvement.
Immediately I could be more precise with my inputs, especially in the longer corners where I could move the wheel in a controlled and deliberate manner, rather than as a reaction. I think this is the biggest positive of this controller, the ability to be exact during slower movements.
The quicker stuff feels like it will need a bit more of a build-up in muscle memory, and that can only come with time.
It’s also worth noting that you do have to temporarily sacrifice either your D-Pad or an analogue stick to make space for your racing module. Thrustmaster recommends swapping the D-Pad, and I would agree with this.
Thankfully the controller has four extra buttons on the back acting as a substitute, but these require a bit of brain power and experience to operate seamlessly. Using the wheel add-on does come at a price when it comes to natural playability.
The XR Pro Forza Horizon 5 Edition is a fun controller to use for your racing game fix. It gives you a more natural sense of control, albeit only providing a subtle increase in precision over a traditional analogue stick – especially if you are into drifting.
The controller itself with its swappable modules is ingenious in a practical sense without ‘blow your socks off’ quality.
Whilst an interesting and unique feature, the steering wheel will not transform your racing game experience. Sure, it’s quirky and enjoyable, plus it isn’t completely frivolous as in certain situations the added control will give you an edge over your friends and rivals.
But it has to be something you want, as it’s certainly not something you need. Will you be ordering this controller? Let us know in the comments below.
The Thrustmaster Eswap XR Pro Controller Forza Horizon 5 Edition is available for pre-order via the Thrustmaster website and launches on 29th March 2023. It is compatible with Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC. The controller costs £179.99, $179.99 or €199.99.
Full disclosure: A unit was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Here is our review policy.