Last week when I got the Xbox Series X and Series S consoles, one of the first things I looked at was the controller. I don’t know about you guys, but that smell that wafts through from the fresh unboxing of a new peripheral? I can snort that all day given the chance. Nothing’s better than the aroma of next-gen plastic, nothing.
Going hands-on with it (heh), my first impression of the Xbox Series controller was that it looked exactly like the Xbox One generation of controllers. That’s not a bad thing, but compared to Sony’s upcoming DualSense controller which packs some incredible haptic feedback technology into its frame, it didn’t appear to be a next-gen upgrade in the input department.
Here’s where an old adage comes into play though: Looks can be deceiving. Microsoft’s new controller ties into an idea of refinement for its latest generation and thus results in a controller that works in an ecosystem of consoles. While it looks exactly the same, the actual physical sensation is something completely different and far more subtle. Plus a dedicated capture button finally hits the right spot for grabbing gameplay screens and video.
Granted there’s no immediate WOW factor but there are some pretty significant changes that do matter. A slightly curvier trigger. Hand grips that are stubbier but chunkier. A D-pad that I actually want to use. Textures on the triggers that allow for new muscle memories in your fingers to be built up. A lot of little changes results in a completely new experience, but one that you’ll only truly realise a week in with the console and its peripherals.
The gist of this is that ergonomically, the Xbox Series X/S controller is pretty dang comfy to hold onto for a marathon gaming session. Thanks to it also being surprisingly light even with AA batteries installed, it also means that my wrists won’t be moaning after a few hours. One other neat thing I noticed with this controller was that I could put my Xbox One rechargeable battery pack into it, and it worked without any hassles whatsoever. That saved me from needing to buy a new battery, as I prefer that over disposable AA.
As for how long those batteries will last? With the controller being hammered away at and rumble motors buzzing, I got an easy 20 hours out of the supplied batteries. With a rechargeable battery, you can also top it up with a USB-C cable, which is just so much more convenient than everything else that was offered in the dark times. That and I’m actually making an effort to not let this one become a dank hive of hand grime and sloughed off sweat flakes.
But that’s the Xbox Series X/S controller for you: Elegantly refinement that won’t immediately blow your socks off but it will gently remind you just how good Microsoft is at creating comfortable familiarity.
Xbox Series X/S coverage
Last Updated: November 6, 2020