PS4 vs Xbox One Episode 2: Controller
Having a powerful console is great but without a good controller it doesn’t mean much. Both the Xbox One and PS4 have made a lot of changes to their controllers since the last generation. Unlike the DualShock 3 which was mostly unchanged from the original PlayStation the PS4 gamepad is a huge step forward. It’s wider and more comfortable with a subtle pattern on the grips which is nice especially for extended gaming sessions. The thumbsticks are now concave to give your fingers a nice place to rest and they’ve got a grippy rubber coating. This feels good while gaming but there have been issues, people like my friend Lew from UnboxTherapy have had the rubber wear out and peel with plenty of others having the same problem. This seems to be mostly be an issue with launch PS4s, I haven’t had a problem with my controllers so unless you log some serious hours it shouldn’t be an issue. The Xbox One controller might not be such a huge change but it’s seen some improvements as well. The grip feels a bit bigger and more comfortable in my hands but the 360 controller didn’t leave a lot of room for improvement.
The thumbsticks have been been updated with a nice textured grip which feels tighter than the smooth finish on the older controller. After a year and a half of use my left thumbstick has started to get a bit loose but other than that it’s held up fairly well. The triggers on the PS4 are nicely shaped with decent travel and I definitely prefer the shoulder buttons to what’s on the Xbox One but the Xbox triggers are larger and have a nicer feel.
The big advantage though are the Impulse Triggers. In addition to having rumble motors in the controller Microsoft fit an extra motor in each trigger to give you feedback in game. It’s especially noticeable in racing games like Forza where you can feel the triggers vibrate as you start to lose traction but it’s also useful in other games like shooters to give you more detailed feedback than just shaking your entire controller. You get used to it quickly, it’s a really nice feature that I’ve come to appreciate.
On the PS4 you’ll find the traditional X, Square, Triangle and Circle buttons on the right side along with the solid D-pad which is about as good as it gets for a console controller. Where you used to have Start and Select buttons you’ll now find Share and Options. Options is basically the pause button and Share allows you to grab a quick screenshot or video clip along with streaming your game. Square in the middle of the controller is the touchpad. Similar to what you’ll find on the back of the Vita this is used in games to pull up a quick option but some titles like Tearaway Unfolded do a much better job of taking advantage of the touch sensitivity.
There’s also a speaker in the controller to listen to in-game audio logs or things like a radio. Speaking of audio every PS4 controller has a built-in millimeter headphone jack to being able to game quietly with headphones. There is a port you can use with a PlayStation headset but having the option of using your own headphones is a big plus. The Xbox One has needed a proprietary headset for while however they’ve recently released an updated controller that includes a headphone jack. The bigger news though is the Elite controller. This brings replaceable thumbsticks which can easily be swapped, an interchangeable D-pad with a cool faceted design and four programmable paddles for easier access to things like your face buttons. It also has a hair trigger bump stop for shorter actuation and a dedicated switch to move between setups. It’s a legitimately cool controller but with a hefty $150 price tag it’s not all that practical.
All three versions of the Xbox One controller come with AA batteries. Considering the PS3 shipped with rechargeable batteries nearly ten years ago this really isn’t cool, having to pay an extra $15 for the Play and Charge kit is a big pain. On the other hand it is usable as a wired controller on both the Xbox One and PC which is really useful. The DualShock 4 is bigger, more comfortable and adds a lot of features than range from decent to downright useful. The Xbox One controller takes one of the best gamepads of all time and improves it but at the end of the day the PlayStation 4 just barely takes this one. Of course there’s more to it than just controllers so stay tuned, this comparison is far from over.
As found on Youtube