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Xbox One Controller: A Step Forward and Another Backward

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Microsoft officially launched the Xbox One late last month. We’ve already given it a good look-over in our full review, saying that it’s a good console that’s full of potential. But one thing that still bothers us is the Xbox One controller. At first glance, it’s an obvious upgrade from the Xbox 360 controller, with the biggest change being the all-new triggers that now have force feedback.

Aside from this, though, the new controller has stayed relatively the same. Yes, it has an ever-so-slightly different design with new thumbsticks and the new View and Menu buttons that replace the Start and Back buttons of the Xbox 360 controller. Other than that, the XYAB buttons remain, as do the joysticks and D-pad. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but we’re just not overly impressed by the new controller.

xbox-one-controller

A Few New Features

The Xbox One controller isn’t a complete overhaul of the Xbox 360 controller, which is partially a good thing. Instead, it takes what makes the Xbox 360 controller great and added some subtle improvements to it. There’s a new Xbox button design that does away with the ugly green LEDs, and the joysticks have been ever-so-slightly updated to provide better thumb-grip. Also, the trigger buttons have been completely overhauled, sporting a more ergonomic design, as well as integrating their own vibration motors for even more force feedback and immersion in games.

xbox-one-controller-compare

The battery compartment has also been redesigned completely and is now recessed into the controller instead of just bulging out like it did on the Xbox 360 controller. This makes the new controller lighter than before and makes it look better overall. However, I didn’t really mind the extra weight with the Xbox 360 controller with battery compartment sticking out; it never got in the way, so it’s not really huge deal for me. I actually prefer a heavier controller for better control when I play games anyway, and it’s why I could never use a wired controller on the Xbox 360.

The Start and Back buttons have also changed to “View” and “Menu” buttons, but they also still act as Start and Back in some games, as well as on the Xbox Dashboard in some cases (like when entering in text, the Menu button acts as the Enter button, just like the Xbox 360 Start button did). The new buttons are a bit confusing at first, but it’s obviously something that takes a bit of a learning curve to get used to.

The Downsides

One major thing that bothers me with the Xbox One controller is that Microsoft clearly didn’t focus on small details when designing and manufacturing it. Both the microUSB port at the top and the proprietary port on the bottom expose the circuit board on the inside, making the controller look extremely cheap. I know this sounds very cliche, but Apple would’ve never let this kind of poor design happen if it ever made a gaming console of its own.

xbox-one-controller-port

Furthermore, I had to send back my Day One Xbox One controller because the left joystick kept making a really annoying clicking sound every time I would pull it to the left. Sometimes it would stop, but once I clicked down on the joystick, it would come back, so I’m pretty sure the clicking mechanism inside of the joystick is messed up somehow. I haven’t heard any other complaints about this specific issue, so I could have just gotten some bad luck, and it doesn’t seem something like this has become widespread like the faulty disc drive problem has gotten.

It’s an Improvement, but Not by Much

It’s obvious that the Xbox One controller is an improvement over the Xbox 360 controller, but there were certain things that Microsoft left hanging that make the new controller not as big of an improvement as it ultimately could have been. It somehow feels cheaper than the Xbox 360 controller, and for the first time, I feel like the PS4′s DualShock 4 controller is tons better than the Xbox One controller.

xbox-one-controller-close

I’ve never been a big fan of the PlayStation controllers over the years, but the PS4′s controller feels way more high quality and robust than the Xbox One controller, and considering it connects through Bluetooth, you can use a DualShock 4 controller for things other than just the PS4, making it quite a versatile option.

16 Comments

  1. smnxprodigy

    12/14/2013 at 1:30 pm

    By far the shittest article I’ve ever read. besides that Don’t try making it seem like xbox one had an issue with the joy sticks. Sounds like you dropped it. and don’t try to say a lighter controller is bad just because you like heavy ones. The general majority of people want lighter things, thus why phones and tablets and laptops are getting lighter. I hope I never read an article from you again.

    • Danny wilson

      12/17/2013 at 11:51 am

      I’ve been using my xbox one now since launch day and at first all seemed good but now I completely agree with this article. I have the same problem with both my controllers left control stick! I just spoke to brother today who has had his xbox for 2 days and he says he has the same clicking from the left stick also so it seems to be a wide spread problem.
      I also agree the the build quality feels far far worse than the 360 pad. If you squeeze the xbox one pad it now creaks like the PS3 pad does giving it a very flimsy feel. Overall I prefer the 360 pad even though the rumble triggers are awesome.

    • C4rnos

      12/19/2013 at 7:17 pm

      I do hope you mean lightweight; generally yes, hardware is switching to that side of things, but when it comes to design- a lightweight design isn’t always the best when you’re trying to make something comfortable or robust, controllers are often made of plastic and plastic is not nearly as tough as ferrous materials (obviously) in order to cheapen the cost of production, the touchpad on the PS4 controller may seem like a gimmick, but it actually ensures the designers have taken a long time developing a controller that shouldn’t break easily, and have the right weight ratio.

      And for some extra information, the article is well written- just because his opinions differ from yours doesn’t make it “the shittest”.

      • cub

        12/21/2013 at 8:26 pm

        Well thats your opinion

  2. Cheerio

    12/14/2013 at 2:19 pm

    Wow, whoever wrote this article obviously has no idea what they’re even talking about. Desperately looking for pointless reasons just for the sake of creating this cheap review. Complaiing about an ever so slight glance of the internal circuit from the Micro USB slot? REALLY? This person obviously has OCD.

    • C4rnos

      12/19/2013 at 7:28 pm

      That is actually quite an issue for a company like Microsoft, for the amount of prototypes they went through i’m surprised that was the result, an exposed circuit board is much easier to mess up through spillage, sweaty hands, shock and any strong magnetic fields nearby an un-shielded circuit board is not gonna hold up well- i suggest you try to educate yourself better in such design facts before spout your own absent minded thoughts.

  3. Billy

    12/16/2013 at 5:23 am

    It’s all down to personal preference but I own both XB1 and PS4 and, IMO, the Dual Shock 4 is inferior in two key departments – comfort and battery life. I can use the Xbox controller with a rechargable battery for days without needing a charge but the DS4 needs a recharge after 4 hours.

  4. MR M (@MR_3001)

    12/16/2013 at 12:03 pm

    What a pathetic fanboy article. I laughed hard when i read this. You sir have just received the idiot award of the day.

  5. diggie23

    12/17/2013 at 8:37 pm

    A lot of butt hurt here in the comments. I laughed out loud at the picture of the USB port! I thought the same thing. In all seriousness, I have all three next gen consoles, and the one (to me) that has the best build quality is, surprisingly, the Wii U. The XOne and PS4 seemed rushed on the market, and feel like they were built by the same chinese factory as the Ouya.

  6. Apoorv

    12/17/2013 at 11:17 pm

    I have the exact same joystick issues with my controller

  7. 360

    12/18/2013 at 2:15 pm

    I’m an xbox 360 fanboy so in no way am I being biased what I will say is the xbox one pad is actually the worst pad made of all time, the right and left bumpers are what kill it for me I tryed fifa 14 with it and its literally unplayable just ruins the whole fun what the 360 gives me, just for the pad sake I will probably end up buying ps4 for that sole reason only

  8. John

    12/18/2013 at 6:16 pm

    My issue with the xbox one controller is a little different. I don’t like the ridges in the depression of the joystick. After about 3-4 hours of playing Killer Instinct, I started getting a blister on the middle of my thumb from it rubbing against the ridge. I don’t understand why it has the ridge, it could just as easily be depressed and smooth. I also don’t like the bigger right/left bottom buttons. It’s hard to match up the timing with the x-y-a-b buttons when two need pressed at the same time. I understand how it could be useful, it just isn’t for KI. I’ll probably end up getting an aftermarket joystick that doesn’t have a sharp ridge on the inside or sand the edge down. I like the system, just wish the joystick was better designed.

  9. dirksterdude

    12/19/2013 at 4:19 pm

    I suppose there is a fine line between objectivity and personal choice on something like this. The review reminds me of someone who was reviewing Forza and he gave it a 3/10. Then at the end of the review mentioned he didn’t like or get simulation racing games. That is how this review felt to me. In addition you then throw in the PS4 controller is a lot better and you don’t even say why. Sounds like a fanboy or troll comment even if it wasn’t meant to.

    • cub

      12/21/2013 at 7:43 pm

      Yes

  10. cub

    12/21/2013 at 7:41 pm

    Ya I like to read something that is not by a fanboy. I like both controllers but the xbox one controller has been better for me. I just like it better not to say that the PS4′s controller is not as good.

  11. Ric Flair

    03/11/2014 at 7:01 pm

    same joystick issue here

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