DualShock 4 and Xbox One pad – first impressions

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 20:52 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Patrick Garratt got some time with both the PS4 and Xbox One controllers at E3 today. Head in for impressions, comparisons and photos.

Both the DualShock 4 and Xbox One pad are generally excellent, barring a few quibbles. There’s nothing wrong enough with either of them to worry about. So don’t.

Console “power” is important, but controllers are key. The pad is your direct interface with the games you play, and bad concept can ruin the entire experience. You’ll be glad to know that both DualShock 4 and the Xbox One pad are superb pieces of design. I took a look at both in LA today.

The PS4 pad feels heavier than the current DualShock, and it’s certainly smaller. There wasn’t an untetherd unit to compare to a DS3 so I couldn’t tell for sure, but it seems as though your thumbs are closer on DS4. The angle of the sticks is steeper on the new pad, as you can see from the photos. It’s as though the whole concept’s been compacted, so your thumbs, when they’re resting on the sticks, are more vertical. I assume this is to make sure the touchpad’s in easy reach (which it is: you don’t have to stretch for it).

The handles are more defined over DualShock 3, meaning you’re holding two specific tubes (matron). It’s comfortable.

The shoulder buttons have been reshaped, and they’re made from hard plastic. The triggers are significantly better than DS3’s. My biggest gripe with the current pad is the lack of lip on the triggers: my fingers always feel as though they’re about to slip off, especially in driving games where you’re constantly using the “gas,” as they say in America. This has been changed with DS4, so the trigger feels like a trigger. It has a hooked lip. It’s much better.

I can’t think of anything useful to say about the facing shape buttons. They’re there and they’re fine. I couldn’t see any real difference compared to DualShock 3.

I’m not convinced by the rims on the analog sticks. The current versions are rounded with a bubbled grip, but the new sticks have a ringed indentation which I found irritating after only a few games of Driveclub. It just felt “there”. You’ll get used to it over time, I guess.

Generally, DS4 feels very well made. I was chatting with Wes from Eurogamer in the E3 press room about it, and he said he equates the extra weight with increased quality, and I agree with that. First impression are that DS4 is a great design and a good evolution of the current pad, but I have a feeling some may find it a little too small. We’ll see.

Combat evolved

The Xbox One pad is a grower. When I first used it I was quite shocked at how different it is. I actually didn’t like it initially, mainly because the profile of the buttons and the d-pad have been reduced. For the buttons, especially, this gives the pad a less immediate feel: they’re flatter and closer together than on the current design. It made more sense when I went back to it, but the chunkiness of the current pad buttons (which I like) has been removed. It’s just personal preference, I think, and on my second try-out I quickly forgot they’d changed at all.

The d-pad looks a lot better. The 360 version is reknowned for being less than stellar, and it’s clear a lot of thought’s gone into the new design. It feels tight and low with definite inputs. I’m assuming Microsoft’s challenge with the d-pad was to make something genuinely usable for fighting games. There’s no way to gauge whether or not it is, but it certainly does seem solid.

The sticks have been significantly changed. They feel markedly higher (this is from memory: Microsoft’s booth was absolutely slammed, and I couldn’t compare with the 360 pad), more stalk-like. They’re indented in the same way as the DS4 sticks, but the rim of the circle feels less intrusive. Job well done.

The 360 pad is probably my favourite ever game controller, mainly because it just feels so ergonomic, and the One pad definitely lives up to the legacy. It feels great. It isn’t heavy, as is the PS4 pad, and the stick placement feels as natural as it ever did. The controller pack bulge on the back of the 360 pad has been removed. The entire design is sleeker compared to the 360 pad.

The triggers and bumpers are made from hard black plastic, and are quite a departure from the current set up. I may be wrong about this, but it doesn’t feel as though there’s as much travel in the triggers, so they’re quite sensitive. The shape and placement is as good as you’d expect.

The bumpers, though, aren’t that great. They’re lower profile, again, and my quick impression is that they’re indistinct compared to their 360 counterparts. You want buttons to be buttons, you know? I want to feel them. I want them to protrude more.

All-round, though, the One pad looks successful. It’s always going to be tough to come out with something meaningful in response to something as good as the 360 controller (d-pad aside), but Microsoft appears to have done a decent job. It feels very comfortable in the hand, and the rumbling triggers are a lovely touch.

Both the DualShock 4 and Xbox One pad are generally excellent, barring a few quibbles. There’s nothing wrong enough with either of them to worry about. So don’t.

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