Opinion: Why the PS4 controller is better than the Xbox One controller

Posted on: September 1st, 2013 by Nick Bristow 30 Comments

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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.

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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.

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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.




30 Responses

  1. Robert Gittings says:

    I hope to hold both controllers myself in a shop sometime in the future just to feel the difference myself.

    I’m glad Dual Shock 4 is getting good reviews and I hope it loves up to them.

  2. Owl says:

    There is a reason why competitive gaming controllers for PS3 and PC have been modeled in a similar fashion to the XBox style. The sticks are so much more precise on a 360 controller than say something like the PS3. Sony didn’t change much dealing with the sticks except make them bigger. Microsoft’s updated design had in mind precision and improving accuracy in any kind of game when using it.

    If you think the Sony controller is better, then you truly are a fanboy. Competitive gaming controllers are all modeled after the 360′s design, besides the keyboard/mouse variety. Thumb wars with joysicks side by side is a disaster waiting to happen. Sony should have swallowed their pride and changed with the times.. These aren’t the days of 2-d gaming anymore.

  3. MaceTheDon says:

    @Owl

    You have the audacity to call someone a Sony fan boy just because they prefer the DS4 over the X1 controller, at least show some proof on why you’re so sure that the x1 controller is already the better controller by default, get your head out of your ass before you criticize other peoples taste.

  4. Keysy says:

    Owl did you read the aryicle or just commented. Youve never played either one, so how can you fault someone for there opinion. You sound like a fanboy, and if you look at awards for design ps3 controller got more than their rivals. Not to say your wrong but not everyone prefers xboz style controllers.

  5. Josh says:

    You confused convex with concave in the second paragraph.

  6. Nick says:

    I agree about the thumbsticks, but seriously, go play with both. Its crazy.

  7. Nico says:

    I think you are a SONY FANBOY too! I had been at E3 on June and recently at Gamescom and dude… the XB1 controller is FAR FAR AWAY better than the DS4. The DS4 feels like DS3 with touchpad! I loved the new feel and precision about the XB1 controller, the new sensors are awesome, is a game changer. When i pulled the trigger with a gun i felt that was a gun and when i pulled the trigger with a bazuka i felt that was a bazuka! so amazing!

  8. Joseph Lan says:

    @Owl: Is that why many pro players use Scuf 360 controllers, which swap out the thumbsticks for PS3-style dome sticks? Your point about the thumbsticks is moot.

    This is especially true, considering you haven’t even tested how the analog sticks feel on either the PS4 or Xbox One controllers yet. How about you actually try each controller out before making up your mind like a defensive Xbox fanboy?

  9. owlisdumb says:

    Hey Owl, if you have not handled both of the next gen controllers then all of your points are completely and utterly pointless. This is NOT PS3 vs 360, it is PS4 vs Xone in which both systems have redesigned controllers dumbass. Many people and yes even competitive gamers much preferred the dual shock as well so you are the only one coming across as a complete fanboy. Lastly analog placement has no bearing on performance and the only people that complain about it are xbox fanboys.

  10. JMz says:

    Owl you idiot he’s talking about the new controllers not the old ones

  11. devils r us says:

    meh, still rather the xbox control anyday, ^^^+1 well said owl.

    is that the start button up there extremely close to the square and triangle button? whatever it does i have a feeling alot of people will be in a mad rush to hit the square and hit that aswell… i feel some rage coming on!

  12. theman4 says:

    @owl ds3 and ds4 is the best there is.

  13. Ryan says:

    ^ Clearly, Owl’s an idiot. Ignore everything he just mumbled out.

  14. John says:

    Owl, the only coming off as a fanboy is you, sorry.

  15. GT says:

    Sony precisely changed the sticks, reducing the dead zone, increasing accuracy.

  16. the_thing_that_lives_on_your_eye says:

    The DS4 looks like my current DS3 after I bought all the additional grip and trigger extensions. Nice.

  17. shaun says:

    Interesting Owl…this person has actually tried both One and Ps4 controllers, thought about it and come up with a rationale opinion. You haven’t. And yet you have deemed this person a “fanboy” because they don’t share your ill-informed opinion. I think you can see what I’m getting at here. Don’t be a douche.

  18. Star says:

    Quote: “Then there are the sticks. The tops were concave meaning your thumbs would slide off the rounded tops.”

    The sticks of the Dual Shock 2 and 3 were convex not concave…

  19. Stikz says:

    @Owl Too bad the majority of the people playing with both controllers are saying the DS4 is better.

    @Nico You’re full of BS.

  20. owl is a xbot says:

    owl is a stupid xbot hurr durr look at me i like xbawks

  21. Lemondish says:

    Owl, you’re mistaken. When you say “Sony didn’t change much dealing with the sticks except make them bigger” you’re forgetting the increased sensitivity and reduced deadzone. Combined with the increased resistance, the sticks are now more responsive and accurate than the DS3 ever was.

  22. Nohbdy says:

    The 360 controller is the worst controller I’ve ever used. The asymmetrical layout feels weird and its d-pad is beyond awful.

  23. Truth says:

    Played both at GamesCom. Article is full of biased Bullshit!
    Sorry Pauperfanboy! There’s nothing SHARP about the Xbox One controller and it feels a lot more responsive than the DS4 with its sticky soft rubber handles and permanent LED that reflects on every screen.
    I’ll give you the shoulder buttons being more rigid though, that part is true, but on the Xbox 360 they were really poorly constructed and failed with many button presses (like active reloading in GoW), but they remain just as pressable on every part of the button from center to edge.

  24. Jason says:

    Knowing the author of this article, I can tell you he’s no “fanboy”. If he’s saying that he prefers the DS4 over the XB1 controller at the moment, then so be it, it’s his opinion and he has the right to his own preferences (whether you agree with him or not).

  25. Punkbasse says:

    LOL @ the Mad Catz reference…if that’s true, then that is truly sad about the Xbox One controller.

  26. Stikz says:

    @Truth Now that’s what a call being a good fanboy.

  27. Jom says:

    @ Owl (for one, “Truth” for two): LOL at anyone calling this the opinion of a fanboy. I guess Alan Kertz of Dice is a fanboy? After calling the DualShock 3 “shit” and then choosing the DualShock 4 as his fave controller for this new gen and saying that *”everything”* about it was better than the 360 controller?? And Jarred Gerritzen & Collin Moore of Zombie Studios for their unabashed praise of the DualShock 4 (and basically calling it their favorite new controller and reason for choosing the PS4 for Blacklight Retribution dev for launch over the XBO)? Shut up you deluded fanboys, projecting your own psychosis onto others. You wish.. It’s YOU guys that are the ones making stuff up trying to find identity & purpose in a plastic box. Grow up. Just become fair weather fans and enjoy the best gaming has to offer. And that would currently be the Dualshock 4 in terms of controllers.. APPARENTLY.

  28. Steve Ballmer says:

    It’s his opinion. Even if he is wrong.

  29. Joey says:

    @punkbasse

    You aren’t allowed to say anything bad about MadCatz until you’ve held a R.A.T. Mouse ^^

  30. Neo says:

    You are all so stupid. Arguing over controllers and talking shit to each other. Its so pathetic. No controller is better than the other because THEYRE NOT THE SAME ONE. Everything is an opinion, and up to the users preference. Plus, so many of you morons have this blind hate for the console you don’t like. Its extremely childish. And don’t reply to this message saying you’re entitled to state your own opinion, because you’re also entitled to plant your thumb firmly up your ass. And don’t troll. Its not funny

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