Analog sticks said:The down-sizing of these analogues had us worried at first, but control ultimately feels just as tight as before, while the claimed decrease in dead-zone parameters is acutely felt in games like Forza Motorsport 5. This is a measure of how far the stick needs to move before actions start to register on-screen, and the reduced travel definitely helps here for gentler nudges to the car's direction.
D-pad said:As for the Xbox One controller's d-pad, we finally get a long-overdue revision over the current-gen's block design, and there's no looking back. A Nintendo-style cross lays over a gentle inward bend in the pad's mold, with each point depressing in every which way without their edges tapping against the contour.
vsImpulse triggers said:its two triggers are cut to a more angular design than before, creating a natural bending point for index fingers wrapping around it. Easier depression on triggers is also a major plus over the very resistive spring-loaded feel of the 360's counterparts.
While there are no FPSs on the show floor to bear this out, games like Forza Motorsport 5 are well optimized for it, sending a bizarre mixture of vibrations - both bass and treble, if you will - simultaneously to your palms and fingertips as acceleration is modulated.
Some of these concerns are allayed by promises that the controller features a low-power battery mode, turning off parts of the controller - rumble included - when the controller is idle, and without the need to constantly re-sync.
Analog sticks said:The design sports a gentle outwards tilt that catches the bend of each finger, narrowing to a finer point. It's difficult to eulogize the effectiveness of this approach; while not quite a full hook in the style of the rival pad's, it works wonderfully well in securing each finger, and the tension needed to drive it down once again feels equitable to Microsoft's solution.
Tightened dead-zones make games like DriveClub eminently easier to control, but the bigger change here is in the friction of the sticks - increased to bring it closer to the pressure needed on the Xbox One's. The old PS3 sticks with their convex grips are often criticized for feeling a little too delicate in travel
Overall, it's striking how similar both controllers feel in this department, as if the houses of PlayStation and Xbox both independently honed in on the very same sweet-spot for grip and required pressure.
Buttons said:Looking to the buttons, the Dual Shock 4 boasts a more tightly packed d-pad than usual, using a silkier matte texture that tapers off towards the center point.
On the right side of the pad, the 8-bit precision analogue face buttons of the last controller are swapped out for digital versions, largely due to their lack of practical use in games, but also to improve communication speeds with the PS4 console.
Trackpad said:It's clickable like a regular laptop mouse pad, and even light touches to its surface are quick in response - in theory, an RTS game based around pinch-to-zoom and panning gestures could find a comfortable home on the platform in future.
Preliminary verdict said:All in all, both Microsoft and Sony have clearly taken note of the shortfalls in their current-gen controllers and make amends without over-stepping the mark - inevitably arriving at a similar middle-point in ergonomic design. Microsoft is no stranger to the process of evolving its pad design with every generation, going from the mighty Duke on the original Xbox, to a minimised S version which formed a basis for the more streamlined 360 pad. The Xbox One continues that tradition of refinement with gentle tweaks across the board - plus the addition of rumble features which make a surprising difference - though the result is one that should be warmly familiar to existing Xbox fans.
Meanwhile, Sony's DualShock 4 shows a more radical departure from the Dual Shock form factor it's held onto for the last three generations. With the revelation that neither the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One offer compatibility for current-gen pads, it's just as well that these new controllers bring enough incremental tweaks to every facet of their designs, each adding up to a broader sense of overall improvement than we'd expected going in. Certainly, controller comfort will always be a strict matter of personal taste, but between the two, the balance between conservation and evolution has been judged with care