Xbox One – Controller
Unlike the new DualShock 4 controller for the PS4, with its touch pad and light bar, the Xbox One controller has few new features but is simply a refinement of the Xbox 360 controller, but boy is it refined. The Xbox 360 controller was already very comfortable and now Microsoft has taken it up a notch. The contouring and weight distribution means it just fits. You don’t have to grip it or balance it, it’s just right. All the controls then fall perfectly into place. Well, nearly all. The L1 and R1 buttons are a bit of a stretch, or require a shift of grip, but these are the less frequently used so it’s not much of a problem day to day. To top it all off the battery pack bump of the old controller is now gone leaving more space for your fingers to relax round the back.
The quality of the whole thing has also improved. It helps that it’s in black but also the XYAB button now have a nice black background and are again set into a clear button, meaning the label will never rub off. The D-pad is also now a cross and has a much more ‘clicky’ feel making for more immediate feedback, and the thumbsticks have a superb new grippy surface.
Looking at those extra features the PS4 controller has, the light bar is of course not needed as its only function is to tell the PS4 which player is where, and the Xbox One does this with Kinect. As for the touchpad, well it’s not used much on the PS4 and so far we haven’t encountered a reason to want it on the Xbox One either.
The Xbox One controller does have a couple of its own tricks too. Put the controller down – something Kinect will see you do – and it enters into a low power state. Also the microUSB connection on the front can be used to turn the controller into a wired model, reducing the lag from inputs just a little. This won't charge the batteries though.
Perhaps of most importance though are the force feedback triggers. Instead of having rumbling effects only from somewhere in the depths of the controller they now also come through the triggers. The effect is particularly good for racing games and other scenarios where precise control and feedback is required. It's not a game changer but a definite enhancement.
The controller takes two AA batteries, with two supplied in the box. Battery life is very good. We've used the console extensively for a week and are yet to have to replace them. In contrast the PS4 controller only lasts around six-seven hours of gaming, though it is rechargable.
However, there is one feature where the Xbox One controller really does fall down and that is in not having a headphone socket. It has a headset socket, which allows you to attach the supplied mono headset with its accompanying volume and microphone controls, but you can’t just connect up any set of headphones. This means that, unlike with the PS4, you can’t have a quiet late-night gaming session with the audio routed to your headphones. Overall though, it is a lovely controller to use.