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Hands-On Impressions: PS4 & Xbox One Controllers

Nov 14, 2013

Gamers are in for a treat when they pick up there Playstation 4 or Xbox One controllers for the first time. Both controllers have seen some big changes while retaining their signature features.

I've had a little time to play with the PS4 and Xbox One controllers and have liked my experience so far. Let's have a peak at what's new.

The Xbox One and Playstation 4 controllers...Epic.The Xbox One and Playstation 4 controllers...Epic.Courtesy of Microsoft/Sony

Dual Shock 4

The new Dual Shock 4 controller for the PS4 has seen significant changes from the Dual Shock 3. At first it my look very similar but when you actually hold it in your hand you feel immediate improvements.

Marvel at its beauty.Marvel at its beauty.Courtesy of Sony

First, the controller is bigger and heavier and the ergonomics of the handle grips allow it to sit right in your palm, like the Xbox 360 controller does today. It's very comfortable to hold and is balanced nicely. The analog sticks are a bit tighter than they were in the past and much smoother; They're also spread farther apart from each other with a better concaved design, so your thumbs don't slip off.

DS4 features a headphone jack now.DS4 features a headphone jack now.Courtesy of Sony

The face buttons, X, Triangle, Square, Circle, all have a nice responsive click when pressed now that Sony has dropped the pressure sensitive buttons this time. The "Share" button is also easy to reach.

The biggest change for fans of the 1st person shooter genre...The triggers. Sony has listened and fixed those awful R2 and L2 triggers. They are actually hooked triggers now, like you would find on most controllers today. This is one of the biggest if not THE biggest improvement and is very welcomed. They simply feel so much better and Playstation fans will love them.

Side by side, the changes are noticeable.Side by side, the changes are noticeable.Courtesy of Sony

The touch pad, located in the center of the controller is actually easy to reach with your thumbs, making quick swipes and movements on it possible and it's also clickable on each side, for extra inputs.

Sony said they looked at the Xbox 360 controller when redesigning the Dual Shock 4 and the proof of that is in your hands the moment you hold it. The new Dual Shock 4 is fantastic and a big improvement over its predecessor.

Xbox One Controller

The Xbox 360 controller, is in my opinion, the best controller ever made for consoles. Its Achilles heal being its lousy D-Pad. So I was very curious to see how much Microsoft would change when designing the new controller for Xbox One (X1). According to them, there are over 40 improvements made. While I certainly can't give you 40 things I noticed different I can say to Xbox fans, rest assured, Microsoft hasn't messed up the controller. It's pretty bad-ass.

Looks familiar, but looks can be deceiving.Looks familiar, but looks can be deceiving.Courtesy of Microsoft

First thing I noticed (as with DS4) is the size difference. Where as the DS4 is noticeably bigger than the current DS3, the new Xbox One controller is noticeably smaller than the Xbox 360 controller but It's still a very comfortable size and weight.

The analog sticks are very nice on the X1. They are a little smaller compared to the 360's, but feature nice textured rubber grips that lock on your thumbs and to say they move smooth is an understatement. The best way to describe their smoothness...A hot knife cutting through butter.

Nice, big and easy to use volume/mute controls.Nice, big and easy to use volume/mute controls.Courtesy of Microsoft

The triggers are wider and shaped so that your fingers naturally curve around them and are smooth when pressed. The triggers also feature rumble motors for haptic feedback. I got to test this feature out while playing Forza Motorsport 5 and it was really cool. You feel the stutter of the brakes pulsing under your left trigger finger when taking hard corners and you can feel the transmission switching gears as you hit the gas in the right trigger. It adds some nice subtle immersion.

All the face buttons works just as they always have, which is great and the D-Pad has been upgraded to a cross with nice firm clicks. That bulky battery pack that stuck out the back of the 360 controller is gone too.

Smooth back, no bulging battery pack.Smooth back, no bulging battery pack.Courtesy of Microsoft

My only initial nag on the controller is I found the shoulder buttons to be a tad farther of a reach from the triggers than the 360 controller. But as with any controller, it's something I'll get used to in only a few hours of serious gameplay.

Another excellent controller from Microsoft.

Overall Impressions

Both Sony and Microsoft have done a remarkable job of updating their controllers. Making improvements where needed while keeping what made the controllers so loved originally. I can't wait to put some serious next-gen gaming hours in.

Playstation 4 launches tomorrow, Nov.15th! Xbox One comes one week later, on Nov.22nd!

Have Your Say!

Have any you had a chance to scope out some next-gen games at a public demo? Let me know in the comments below!