E3 2013: Who has the better next-gen controller? 
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Geoffrey Tim
June 12, 2013 at 12:30 pm

controllers

One of my goals at E3 today was to get a little bit of hands-on time with both of the next gen consoles – mostly so I could get a feel for both controllers. I did that – and I like one of them better than the other.

The controller that shows the biggest change, obviously, is Sony’s. No longer sporting that tired Dualshock design that’s been around for nigh on two decades. It’s a little less narrow, a little longer. The analogue nubs are a little less slippery and it’s got that touchpad in the middle of it. It also has some proper triggers on it now instead of those spongy, slippery things that made shooters a pain to play on the PlayStation 3. It’s also got that colour-changing lightbar on it – and, finally a headset jack.

It’s a far, far better controller than the Dualshock – and I love how it feels in the hand. The triggers though are a little off, feeling perhaps a bit too angular, and the touchpad is admittedly quite awkward to use.

The Xbox One controller is, prima facie, not all that different from the 360 controller. It’s a little more ergonomic and classier looking than before, and the triggers are a little shorter, leading to quicker trigger pulling. The analogues are infinitely smoother than their predecessors, and their little nubs just that little bit smaller and more comfortable. It’s snug, and comfortable, and feels fantastic. It’s probably the most confortable controller I’ve ever used,with its only real downside being the fact that it still requires AA batteries instead of the more forward thinking, built-in rechargeable one.

The big differentiator in the Xbox one controller though is in the tiny motors that make the triggers rumble, giving haptic feedback. It’s a little difficult to convey just what a difference it makes. in driving games, it adds the sort of force feedback you’d only get from high end racing wheels. In shooters, each and every bullet feels like it’s being propelled from your hands, and it’ll make stealth sections especially tense with a pulsing heartbeat that you’ll feel in your fingertips. It’s such a small, seemingly pointless addition – but it makes the world of difference.

There’s very little to like about the Xbox One’s anti-consumer DRM policies – but there’s very little bad to say about its controller.

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces. I am also the emperor of the backend

  • Hammersteyn

    Still uses AA batteries? What is this, 2003? Imagine cellphones,notepads or laptops had to use batteries the same way the XBOX controller does.

    • Rinceyouropinion

      Although I like the Xbox One controller more, I have to agree. A rather archaic idea, especially when juxtaposed next to their marketing the NEXT/FUTURE generation console… That being said, I am sure you will be able to buy charge packs.

      • Macethy

        That’s exactly why they are doing it, they can make a ton of cash off the battery pack accessory

        • Rinceyouropinion

          Ahhh, maybe so. Or perhaps normal batteries last longer than rechargeable and the extra motors need it?

          • Lourens Jordaan

            Scotty: “We need more power to the motors captain!!!”
            Captain K:”Make it so XBox one.”

      • http://www.youtube.com/koldfu5ion Devon Stanton

        Personally I prefer the idea of being able to swap out batteries, having a built-in recharge just tells me that when that battery dies I have to get a whole new controller. that aside however I still preferred wired controllers over both.

        • Lord Chaos

          With you on this. Tired of having to find a usb extension so I can plug into that excuse of a cable they give.

        • Rinceyouropinion

          Not sure what you mean mate? I have a rechargeable lithium battery pack…I don’t need to get a whole new controller… I just charge it.

          • http://www.youtube.com/koldfu5ion Devon Stanton

            I was referring to the PS3 method of built-in batteries

          • Rinceyouropinion

            Really? I never knew they did that, that’s stupid!

        • Yobokkie

          Yeah I never get the appeal of proprietary battery packs for anything. There needs to be some kind of Standard format for them, otherwise can you imagine in 10 years time if you want to whip out the old system for some retro gaming…. ehhhh captain… we don’t have any power. Unless there’s a way to ensure you’ll still be able to get the batteries in the future I prefer things to run on ye bog standard AAAs. I mean ok it makes sense on cell phones as you’ll never keep around a collection of old cell phones, but some people do collect old game systems.

        • http://www.facebook.com/panthisza Alex [SS] PsyChoPanthis

          i just opened the controller and replaced the dualshock battery pack with one off ebay… a literal shit ton of money cheaper than a new DS3

    • DaxterZA

      Well there will be a play and charge kit again, so you have no reason to use AA batteries! :-P

      • Hammersteyn

        Pity that you need an accessory to keep playing but it’s a lot better than constantly buying batteries.

    • Mr Faice

      You could just buy rechargeable batteries yourself. Buying a ten year supply of batteries is still less painful than using a PS remote for an hour.

      • Hammersteyn

        To be honest it lasts a bit longer than that but I get your point.

        • HvR

          Best solution I’ve seen for these types of peripherals, is using replaceable AA and then add a built a recharge and jack to the controller. IMHO that would be the ideal solution. Also controller can be used wired in the short if batteries have gone.

      • Nico

        stop using the PS remote and play with the controller

    • HvR

      What is the problem with rechargeable AA, I prefer that to having an dud built in battery go after a year and having to fork out for new controller.

      • Hammersteyn

        But the time I buy a new controller the battery still works fine to be honest. The controller does lose the crisp feel of the buttons and the analog sticks loses it’s precision movement after 10 months or so. MS does know how to build sturdy controllers, I will give them that and the new one sure is pretty.

  • Rinceyouropinion

    Yeah, I have to say, I prefer the look of the Xbox One controller, and the micro-motors? WIN!

    • Hammersteyn

      It is a very beautiful controller. I have to agree. It just feels like Duracell and Energizer maybe had a say on the design of the controller.

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    I will concede that to microsoft. Their controller looks good. Pitty I can’t say the same about the box itself

  • Ultimo_Cleric N7

    Cool. Sounds like both are big improvements. Kudos to MS though.

  • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

    I hope this controller will be able to work on PC too, man I will be so happy

    • Hammersteyn

      Both of them?

      • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

        Whoops, edited, Xbox, I love the xbox controller. In all honesty and imo, it’s the best controller on the market

        • Rinceyouropinion

          Agreed, 100% mate.Love it.

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            Yeah man, it fits absolutely perfect in your hands

        • PointMan

          you get a few upvotes for that.

        • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

          Can’t argue with that

        • Hammersteyn

          Plus I don’t think the touchscreen will be much use on the PC :P

        • John Ambitious

          Agreed.

  • That Tall Twit

    Wonder if the mini motors would commit mass murder on AA batteries.

    • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

      Good point… Never thought of how quickly haptic feedback would eat through AA batteries.

      • That Tall Twit

        Can imagine after an hour of playing a FPS, batteries will need replacing.

        • Rinceyouropinion

          After an hour, most current FPS games would then need changing ;) Trololo!

          • That Tall Twit

            BWAHAHA!

  • Happy Hamster

    I think this is where MS gets clever and you can purchase a rechargeable battery pack because the new controller will eat batteries which might convince the gamer to buy there pack….
    just a thought

    • Rinceyouropinion

      Yeah, @39f8a9e0d913fbfc100f15d1c5ca4295:disqus just said as much.

      • Happy Hamster

        hahahaha i didnt see that

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    I haven’t held either in my hand yet, so it’s a bit difficult to say. Aesthetically, I like the PS4’s controller’s design (it reminds me of a banana), but the xbox one’s controller is a “looker” as well.

    But.. can either of them do this….

    http://25.media.tumblr.com/ce90ea904578e8880a964b0f5f965430/tumblr_mmrce14mjF1rjdfzto1_400.gif

    • Trevor Davies

      Well given the precision control shown I would say no, it’s clearly a mouse & kb :D

    • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

      Hahaha. Check the last kick. Guy has his hand destroyed lol. See how he moves it down and in at the last moment. Silly man. Didn’t his sensei teach him how to stand still? n00b

      • Spathi

        “Dis jou verdiende loon, jou swaapagtige noolkop bangbroek!! Luister as ek met jou praat, hoor jy my!?”

        • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

          Bwhahahahaha!

    • John Ambitious

      Yes, but does it have the precision of a banana?

      • Brady miaau

        Not at all, no.

        Food for thought, that. Thanks for the input.

    • Brady miaau

      So this Banana thing, you just like them or what?

      Seems odd to pattern a lifestyle around a banana. Seriously.

      A Grapefruit, on the other hand, is far more likely to have such an honour. It is complex, hold many different tastes, flavours and textures. Works with most things.

      Ah, I dunno nothing.

      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        You don’t adopt the moniker Banana Jim without finding yourself – at 3 in the morning – hungover, in a banana suit and lying in a fruit bowl…

        I’ve said far too much already…

        • Andre116

          and a banana is technically a herb.

          *pat myself on the back*

          • Brady miaau

            indeed

        • Brady miaau

          I get the banana suit, I get the fruit bowl.

          But hungover at 3 AM? Hah, seriously, now.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            My liver works miracles…. :P

      • HvR

        always thought you were a bit of a sour puss

        only joking :)

        • Brady miaau

          Awesome!

          Probably….

    • Rinceyouropinion

      Haha, if you look carefully, the dude on the left is actually bending the board before it’s kicked. Still wicked cool though!

  • That Tall Twit

    I could not resist…

  • Jakster

    “There’s very little to like about the Xbox One’s anti-consumer DRM
    policies – “… That there just shows how worthless this controller is.

    • Brady miaau

      One does not necessarily follow the other.

  • Tbone187

    Whats de fuss about AA batteries…? Haven’t folks heard about rechargable AA’s…? It’s actually a better option than factory lithiums coz u can pick them up just about anywhere and can have many in reserve as backup…

    • Spathi

      But why? Why not have a controller with built in rechargeables? Ones that charge in a hour or two and work for days. Ones that can recharge while you are playing?

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        Simple, so they can charge you extra for a charge and play accessory. Extra money income for them

      • Tbone187

        Errr… you have the option of both, even with the xbox 360…If the factory battery fails, you can always pop down to de store for AA’s…Best of both worlds…Don’t think we should get strung up with factory rechargeables ….

        • Spathi

          I don’t get what you are saying about having both with the xbox 360? please clarify?

          What is better, plugging in your controller and then continue to play, or popping into the store to buy more batteries?

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            He meant if your battery pack dies. Then what? you have to go buy a new one. AA rechargeables are cheaper than a new factory battery pack

          • Spathi

            Ah okay. I don’t agree with him though. I have the R 200+ (for four) rechargables that I use for my camera and Xbox controllers currently. For a set of extra batteries, it costs an extra R 200+. These rechargeables rather quickly lose their potency, if used a lot.

            My PS3 remote (original, before DS3) still keeps a charge for days and days.

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            Well I’m no console expert so I don’t know. I just thought that AA rechargeables are cheaper than the rechargeable Xbox battery packs. Oh well. One learns every day

          • Spathi

            Most are, but I tend to buy more expensive variants in the hope that they last longer, which they certainly do! Don’t know how much the battery packs costs though…

          • Tbone187

            Mate, you can get a factory rechargeable battery for the Xbox360 controller that charges when plugged into the system or you can use the AA ones…more choice for you , the customer. How is that a bad thing…

          • Spathi

            Didn’t know about the proprietary rechargeable battery for the controllers. I was genuine asking a question :) Choice is always better!

          • Brady miaau

            Popping to the store. The Xbox purposely drains the batteries faster when it detects you are a bit fatigued and could probably do with some fresh air.

            Clever, Eh?

          • Spathi

            Damn Kinect spying on me!

          • Tbone187

            hehe…heard it monitors your heart rate as well…Get too excited and expect some proper marketing material coming your way for whatever was on screen at the time…

      • Jakster

        How does one charge a controller that’s so far away and high up in a cupboard? Do you want people tripping over cables like it’s year 1998?

        • Brady miaau

          wireless charging?

          We can use 2.4 Ghz wifi to charge them, probably take about about 4 days to get a 20% charge, BUT how awesome is that?

          • HvR

            Until the cat walks between the controller and box and gets turned into McNuggets by the microwave beam needed to transfer the power.

            With current wifi, assuming ideal environment, no loss charging circuit 5m from the wifi source you are looking at 600 000 000 hours for 1800mAh 3V battery pack.

          • Brady miaau

            Well, yes. I got one of the electronic engineers to calculate how much we could get is we put “receptors” on the entire factory roof, covered the damn thing.

            Turns out a small solar panel is better, using far,far,far less room.

            It annoys me, because there is energy out there going to waste.

          • HvR

            not going to waste, needed to send information.

            You are only transmitting at 10mW (typically max 100mW allowed) the power level drops exponentially mostly due to the “spreading” of the transmitting pattern so at 5m (-50dBm) the power level is at 10nW.

          • Brady miaau

            Yeah, I know but there is so much of it out there. All the spectrums, like 433Mhz as well. Massive. I use a spectrum analyser sometimes and we have built “noise floor detectors” for various frequencies and you would be shocked to see how much is just going on around us all.

            Yet, as you say, we cannot transmit very powerful signals and the amount of actual energy is minimal.

          • HvR

            Ever put on a microwave close to the spectrum analyzer, you will see why it is a wifi killer.

      • Brady miaau

        The new controllers can be wired and when plugged in (Micro USB) then they switch off wireless and charge, while you play.

        My wife has a need to not be around too many transmitting devices (a complicated pacemaker) in the Electromagnetic line, so I look out for that type of thing.

        For example, the WII instruction book says my wife may not come within 10 meters of the controller when it is on and in use

        • Spathi

          Makes sense.

        • Lourens Jordaan

          That’ll keep her in the kitchen.
          *sorry Brady, couldn’t resist.

          • Brady miaau

            Awesome!

            I will speak to her. Maybe not tonight, see how the mood is, but yeah.

            Just one small problem: I do most of the cooking, which we, being unconventional people, do in the kitchen.

    • Jakster

      But haven’t you heard about the DRM issue? “There’s very little to like about the Xbox One’s anti-consumer DRM policies”

  • Skyblue

    The X360 controller was always better than the PS3 imo so $ony had to do some fixing wheras M$ made some subtle changes.

  • Sageville

    Can’t say I’ve ever liked the Xbox controller, but I do like that haptic trigger feedback idea.

  • CaptainNemo42

    So the best controller will never be used?

  • brad coetzee

    pity they have the better controller. Wont sway my vote though. PC PC PC!

    • Hammersteyn

      Hehe I’m sure you will be able to use it on your PC.

      • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

        I actually played the PC version of Battlefield 4 yesterday…with an Xbox one controller. ;)

        • Hammersteyn

          Green is the colour of my skin I am so jealous!

  • Deano

    The PS3 controller looks like they tried to squash way to much on it.

    The Xbox One Controller is spot on! just wish MS would listen to crit on its console!

    I’ll end up getting both in any case.
    Im a gamer and I want to play games on both :)

  • Stanley Watson

    I read somewhere that you can get a Xbox 360 controller to work with PS3 (or maybe it’s a different buy altogether). Perhaps XBox One controllers will become available for the PS4, or some workaround? I’m hoping for that.

    • Andre116

      I’m pretty sure that there are 3rd party controllers out there for the ps3 that was modeled on the 360.

  • http://www.facebook.com/khulie.ndlovu Khulani Ndlovu

    The Xbox One controller is a win for me although i’m buying the PS4 no questions asked, :)

  • TheFez

    Truly