Next Gen Controller Faceoff – DualShock 4 Or Xbox One?

This week I had the chance to get a considerable amount of hands on time with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and I was thoroughly impressed with both the DualShock 4 and updated Xbox One gamepads. My initial reaction to the DualShock 4 was one of confusion. The same can’t be said about the Xbox One controller, that was love at first sight, so heading in I thought my mind was already made up.

DualShock 4

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Everything is considerably larger on the DualShock 4 controller. The handles allow larger hands (like mine) a much more comfortable grip. There’s also a rubberized matte finish grip surface that allows for a more secure grasp of the controller. There’s added real estate pretty much everywhere throughout the controller’s design. There’s a bit more space between the face buttons, and a larger surface for the d-Pad inputs. The edges of the DualShock 4’s d-Pad are also slightly convex, giving it a more precise feel. One thing I didn’t know about the controller prior to using it was the fact that the track pad is also a button input. I’m not sure what kind of application that will allow, but the PlayStation Eye accessory isn’t a mandatory peripheral, so maybe Sony found a way to utilize the pad without the Eye’s assistance. The shoulder and trigger buttons have a bit of texture to them as well, giving them a more precise feel. In my opinion, the analog stick upgrade is where the DS4 really shines. Much like the d-Pad the sticks go from concave to convex, starting from the middle to edge. This leads to a level of precision I just didn’t see on the DS3. The small amount of space added between the sticks will also provide larger handed players with more comfort. Sony utilized every bit of feedback they received from both users and developers to create a new standard for their brand. I can see this controller possibly outlasting it’s two predecessors in shelf life.

Xbox One Controller

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Like I said earlier, my first impression of this game pad was that of excitement. In contrast to their competition, Microsoft opted to reduce the overall size of their controller for greater precision. The face buttons have been ever so slightly been brought closer together, and the difference is almost immediately apparent. The decrease in space between the A, B, X, and Y buttons makes for easier traversal between them. It’s incredibly slight, but definitely noticeable. The analog sticks retain the classic pattern, but the top third of the controller has greatly reduced real estate. The slender appearance of the controller doesn’t quite reflect the feel of the difference in your hand. The smaller upper third design actually makes the analogs slightly closer together, and the result feels quite a bit more comfortable. The largest improvement comes in the form of the updated d-Pad. Honestly, that’s what drew me to the controller outright. My only real complaint with the 360 controller was the poor d-Pad design. The new controller design mends grievances of old by shaving a considerable amount of verticality from the four inputs (my biggest peeve) which results in a more pronounced feedback when inputting commands. The rumble feature has also seen a decent overhaul. I felt subtle feedback when taking turns correctly in Forza 5, and considerably more reverberation when failing to take the curve accurately. This is a great device.

It’s incredibly hard to pick a winner between the two titans of next gen. Both of these controllers just feel right in your hand, but one design took more risks that resulted in a significantly larger improvement. The DualShock 4 is a different controller than it’s precursor, Sony modified the blueprint and the end result is a controller I can’t wait to use full time. That’s not taking anything away from the Xbox One controller, that thing is a triumph in it’s own right, but the DS4 is such a large advancement that I can’t help but side with it.

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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