E3 2013: Who has the better next-gen controller?

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controllers

One of my goals at E3 today was to get a little bit of hands-on time with both of the next gen consoles – mostly so I could get a feel for both controllers. I did that – and I like one of them better than the other.

The controller that shows the biggest change, obviously, is Sony’s. No longer sporting that tired Dualshock design that’s been around for nigh on two decades. It’s a little less narrow, a little longer. The analogue nubs are a little less slippery and it’s got that touchpad in the middle of it. It also has some proper triggers on it now instead of those spongy, slippery things that made shooters a pain to play on the PlayStation 3. It’s also got that colour-changing lightbar on it – and, finally a headset jack.

It’s a far, far better controller than the Dualshock – and I love how it feels in the hand. The triggers though are a little off, feeling perhaps a bit too angular, and the touchpad is admittedly quite awkward to use.

The Xbox One controller is, prima facie, not all that different from the 360 controller. It’s a little more ergonomic and classier looking than before, and the triggers are a little shorter, leading to quicker trigger pulling. The analogues are infinitely smoother than their predecessors, and their little nubs just that little bit smaller and more comfortable. It’s snug, and comfortable, and feels fantastic. It’s probably the most confortable controller I’ve ever used,with its only real downside being the fact that it still requires AA batteries instead of the more forward thinking, built-in rechargeable one.

The big differentiator in the Xbox one controller though is in the tiny motors that make the triggers rumble, giving haptic feedback. It’s a little difficult to convey just what a difference it makes. in driving games, it adds the sort of force feedback you’d only get from high end racing wheels. In shooters, each and every bullet feels like it’s being propelled from your hands, and it’ll make stealth sections especially tense with a pulsing heartbeat that you’ll feel in your fingertips. It’s such a small, seemingly pointless addition – but it makes the world of difference.

There’s very little to like about the Xbox One’s anti-consumer DRM policies – but there’s very little bad to say about its controller.

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Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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