Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One Tuesday and, along with it, the next generation of the Xbox controller. Lost amongst all the talk of live television, a new EA Sports game engine and Call of Duty: Ghosts trailers, was the subtle new design of the Xbox One controller.
At first glance, the Xbox One controller appears to be a simple reincarnation of the Xbox 360 controller. The button placement, curved handles and color-coded A, B, X, Y buttons all give the console’s controller a familiar look.
However, the Xbox One controller features more than 40 design and technical innovations when compared to the Xbox 360 controller. While the changes to the console’s controller are soft-spoken, the new look revives a design that has mostly remained the same for eight years.
Most Xbox 360 owners would agree that the controller for the console was not broken. It seems Microsoft would also agree with that sentiment and, as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Rather than introduce a completely new controller design, the team behind the Xbox One decided to improve upon the original design.
The thumbsticks on the Xbox One controller include ridges for better grip, making longer play sessions more comfortable for users. Microsoft may have been taking cues from the raised thumbstick add-ons by KontrolFreek. Somehow, Microsoft calculated the updated thumbsticks are 25 percent easier to move than the Xbox 360 controller. Additionally, the D-pad provides a more classic cross design that is easier to press while also giving users better feedback.
Players hoping for better feedback will be happy to feel new vibration effects that can change dynamically. For instance, the rumble felt while shooting a gun should not be the same as starting a car engine or feeling a heartbeat while taking the game-winning free throws. The Xbox One controller features vibration in the triggers. Vibration in each trigger is separate, meaning the left trigger can vibrate slowly while the right trigger gives more feedback.
The Xbox guide button is placed higher on the Xbox One controller than its 360 counterpart. The feature will go largely unnoticed except by players who frequently use the button.
As far as the battery pack, the controller ditches the detachable pack with two double-A batteries. The device still uses two double-A batteries but they are placed in a compartment located on the back of the unit that does not obtrude or distract players during gameplay.
The Back and Forward buttons of the Xbox 360 controller have been replaced by View and Menu buttons. The View button will allow players to get a quick look at their inventory screen, game map or leaderboards. The Menu button acts like a traditional Start button by letting players view the game’s menu.
Although it may not look the part, Microsoft has greatly improved upon the design of the Xbox 360 controller. The controller has been tweaked to better fit more size hands and is more comfortable during longer play sessions. Microsoft adjusted the center of gravity on the controller to make holding it in the hand easier and reduce the amount of weight players will actually have to hold up. The Xbox One controller does not have an advanced touchpad or high-resolution touchscreen but the controller innovates in its own ways.