Before I get branded a Sony fan boy forever, let me preface this by saying, both controllers are perfectly fine controllers and I will be getting both of them. Also, based on the size of your hands and personal preference, this could all be moot to you. With that being said, I wanted to break down why the PS4’s Dual Shock 4 edges out the Xbox One controller for me.
Lets start with the PS4’s predecessor the Dual Shock 3. The DS3 was essentially a Dual Shock 2 with motion support. Basically the same shell with new guts. It has short stubby handles that are angled in such away that only about half your hand fits on the thing. Gripping the DS3, requires a light grip. This is the only way to get quick access to all of your controls. Then if you grip it too tightly and you get the dreaded controller sweat. This was mainly due to the paint job. It is a fine, glossy finish that doesn’t give much air to your skin, thus causing sweat to build up. Then there are the sticks. The tops were convex meaning your thumbs would slide off the rounded tops. And last but not least was the triggers. They curved down and towards you, making gripping them kind of an annoyance. Overall, the DS3 was a functional, but not ideal controller for me.
So what’s better about the Dual Shock 4 you ask? Well first off, its a wider controller, in order to make room for the touchpad. They’ve stretched the thing out and made the handles longer. They’ve also made the handles at a better angle. It feels natural holding the controller. If you take your hands, put them a six inches apart in front of you and rest them in a natural position, thats about how you hold the controller. It really feels snug and secure in your hands. Then there’s the texture of the paint. It has a cross etched pattern on the bottom. While I didn’t play for hours, I can only assume the sweatiness issue should be greatly decreased. I noticed none at all playing for 30 minutes or so. The sticks have been improved as well. They have a crater in them that actually lets you have grip of the thumb stick. They also feel like they have more resistance than their predecessor. The triggers have also been redesigned. They are narrower, but they are also angled away from you now. Thus letting you get a good grip and pull on them. Every button feels like it is right under your fingertips ready to be accessed. If I had any complaints about the thing, the sticks may be a little high, but I hardly noticed after I got going.
Lets switch over to Xbox. The 360’s controller is one of the best controllers of all time. I’ve had the same controllers since launch and they still work great. It’s really hard for me to find faults in that controller. Its very comfortable in my hands and I prefer the placement of the sticks not being parallel. The biggest draw back to the 360 controller has always been its d-pad. More of an analog stick with a cross on it. It has been the bane of fighting game fans for years.
With that being said, it seems pretty obvious what Microsoft needed to do, fix the d-pad and we’re all good. But thats not exactly what happened. The first thing I noticed about the Xbox One controller is how sharp it is. It’s almost as if they were trying to copy the styling of the square Xbox One. Which doesn’t make sense for a controller unless you’re Nintendo. It seems narrower. The handles are thinner and for me, this means I’m getting less of a complete grip on the thing, and more of a lighter hold. When I attempted to hold it like I would a 360 controller, it felt a little jabby in my hands. The sticks and the buttons are all grouped tighter. This is a good thing as all the buttons are easily accessible at all times. The triggers are wider curving around the sides of the controllers and feel great. The triggers also have haptic feedback, but none of the games I demo’d appeared to have that turned on. The shoulder buttons may take some getting used to. There were several moments where I’d go for them and not press hard enough to register. I am just so used to the quick press of the 360’s bumpers. The d-pad on the other hand feels great. I didn’t really have to use it other than giving orders in Battlefield 4, but it feels snappy and responsive. I am sure the controller will be fine and dandy for years to come, but what sums up my whole argument in two words is, when I picked up the controller, the first thing that came to mind was “Mad Catz.”
I think the really interesting aspects of these two comes from the comparison. If you just used one or the other, you will be completely satisfied, but when you pick up the Xbox One controller, quickly followed by the Dual Shock 4, it’s immediately noticeable how good the DS4 feels in your hands. The DS4 has finally given up its baggage of past controller design and moved on to something spectacular. And that’s really my point here, it’s not that Microsoft has screwed up, it’s that Sony has created something awesome. These two controllers are very different and I will need to spend a lot more time with them to see if my opinion changes, but at the moment, I’m giving it to Sony.