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The Xbox One Controller Impresses

by Matt Helgeson on Jun 13, 2013 at 02:13 PM

It's been a fairly rough E3 for Microsoft, but the time I've been able to spend with the Xbox One controller has left a good impression. It's a worthy successor to the excellent Xbox 360 controller.

While I think both the new Dual Shock and the new Xbox One controller are excellent, the Xbox One unit is definitely less of a change from last generation -- and for good reason. The Xbox 360 had, in my opinion, the best video game controller in history. So, the design team at Microsoft, while making some improvements, definitely took the approach of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

So, if you're an Xbox gamer already, you're going to feel right at home when you pick up the Xbox One controller. While the changes are more subtle, there are definitely some great improvements over the last-gen unit. The most notable is the rumble functionality. Microsoft has placed some micro-motors in the triggers, which allow for really small gradations of rumble. It's a far cry from the "on/off" feel of the rumble on the 360. If you start a car, you can feel the kick of the engine starting, then the light vibrations of the idle, then the massive rumble when you press the trigger down for a full revving of the engine. It's definitely the best, most advanced rumble I've ever felt.

The basic controller layout is essentially identical to the 360 controller. You've got dual, offset analog sticks, four face button, two triggers, two shoulders, start, select, and a d-pad. The d-pad represents the biggest improvement in the basic control functions. For one, it's actually a cross-shaped d-pad, not the unwieldy discs they've had in past controllers. For me, it fixes my only real complaint about the 360 controller.

The analog sticks are rubberized and concave, but also feature a slight micro-texture along the rim of the top of the stick. It's nice, and provides a little better feel if you are pushing the stick forward instead of putting your finger in the concavity.

The controller itself has slightly different contours than the 360 controller, most notably in the fact that the engineers were able to reposition the batteries to do away with the "battery lump" and make the back a flush surface. It feels just a bit smaller in your hands, imagine a size somewhere in between the 360 controller and the Controller S for the original 360.

Overall, it's another great controller from Microsoft. Along with the much improved Dual Shock 4 (you can read my impressions here), this new generation of consoles will certain be a good one for controllers.