Next-Gen Controller Hands On

One of the most important parts of the console is the controller. With the PS4 and Xbox One just around the corner, and a couple of the editors here on Analog Addiction having finally gotten our hands on both controllers. Myself, PlayStation Editor George Sinclair and Xbox 360 Editor Nathan Manning share our views on the controllers.

Hugh: First off the Xbox One controller, the controller which is widely regarded as having little to improve on, yet it felt to me much more comfortable in my hands compared to the Xbox 360 controller. It can’t be expressed how truly comfortable it was, but I found the 360 controller to be chunky with a mediocre D-pad so this change is huge to me. I did have one issue with the controller which George will discuss below as I echo what he says.

George:  Most notably in my mind is the size of the analogue sticks which are now quite a bit smaller. They fit right under your thumbs as opposed to it feeling as if your thumbs were resting upon two large platforms like on an Xbox 360 controller. The large battery pack is now also gone from the back of the controller so now there’s no obstruction.

One downside I felt the Xbox One controller has a wide and sensitive home button. When playing Ryse, the demo staff really stressed to us that we cannot touch the home button due to how sensitive it is. Microsoft could fix this by launch but since it’s a very large button it has the potential to be an annoyance.

Nathan: The only game I played with an Xbox One controller was Forza Motorsport 5. On first impressions, the controller felt extremely comfortable. This, I believe, is due to the way the controller is curved. It does not feel that much different to the Xbox 360 controller, but there is a slight difference- an improvement not a hindrance.

Regarding the thumbsticks, at first they felt odd. The thumbsticks felt smaller than the Xbox 360′s, but nothing felt off once I was in the game and racing. The D-pad has also been changed due to consumer demand. I did not get to use it, but players playing Killer Instinct seemed to have no problems controlling the characters. The triggers feel as good as the Xbox 360 triggers, but the bumpers felt like they were harder to press.

It was a weird choice to replace the Start and Back buttons with buttons that just have pictures on them (a square in a square where Back was, and horizontal lines where Start was) because they do exactly the same thing. The button replacing the Back button changed the camera, just like in other Forzas. Overall, I’m delighted with the new Xbox One controller. It’s definitely an improvement over the Xbox 360 controller, especially where the D-pad is concerned.

Hugh: Now onto the PlayStation 4 controller the Dualshock 4 which is a polarising controller, some people love it and find it comfortable, like myself and there’s others who find it too small. I held the Dualshock 4 and it felt familiar whilst being slightly heavier, the improvements made with the triggers have them concave makes them feel much more comfortable in your hands. The new addition to the controller is the touchpad which when scrolling the map of Assassin’s Creed 4 was responsive to the right level. It wasn’t overly sensitive where you have to barely touch it to move whilst not requiring heavy strokes of fingers or thumbs to be used.

George: With the Dualshock, it seems Sony had the most room for improvement. As one of the rare folk who favoured the DualShock 3, I didn’t notice just how better a PlayStation controller could be until I touched the DualShock 4. After playing around with it, the overall feel of it is better but the real improvements come from the analogue sticks and triggers.

The sticks have way more grip to them and your fingers snuggle nicely into the indented triggers. The mat grip on the bottom of the controller feels good but I can see that wearing over time.

With the Dualshock 4, I feel as if the gap between the two is far smaller now. They’re both very good controllers.

However, to pick between the two I have to go with the DualShock 4 because so much of it is new, I’m excited to really test it out even more after launch. I already know how good Xbox controllers are but I want to see how much of an impact the DualShock 4 will have on my gaming experience. It felt incredibly good to play with Killzone Shadow Fall so I’d like to play it even more.

Nathan: The PS4 controller, like the Xbox One controller, felt largely similar to its current-gen counterpart. However, the thumbsticks are a welcome improvement. I do not use PlayStation controllers much, but the PS4 thumbsticks could compare to the Xbox One thumbsticks now, which is a great change for shooter fans.

However, I am still not a fan of the triggers. Sony have said they redesigned the triggers, but I did not feel the difference. In fact, I did not like the triggers. When playing FIFA 14 and Drive Club, I had to keep readjusting my fingers because they kept falling off the triggers. This also happened with the thumbsticks. It’s difficult to explain why. It could just be that the PS4 controller is smaller than the Xbox One controller, and I am not used to PlayStation controllers.

One thing I liked about the PS4 was the colour coding on the top of the controller. It makes working out what controller and player you are so much easier. More than one player in FIFA? Instead of doing tests to see who is who, just look at the colour of your controller’s light. The PS4 controller is definitely not my cup of tea, but I think the change in the thumbstick design is a nice change.

So that’s our views on the controllers, what are your thoughts if you’ve played them both? Agree with us?