Under control: The new Xbox One controller

A $100m investment has resulted in over 40 improvements to the already-popular Xbox 360 controller.

We find out what those new features are – and what that means for Xbox One gamers.

At first glance, the new Xbox One controller appears to only be subtly different from the much-loved Xbox 360 controller.

But after 200 prototypes, 20 research studies, direct feedback from 500 testers and $100m on R&D, Microsoft has significantly upgraded an already-popular design.

The Xbox One controller features over 40 serious changes that make for a more comfortable gamepad and more immersive games.


Some of the changes and improvements on the Xbox One gamepad are subtle.

Ergonomically, the pad is sleeker and smoother, and button positions have been refined with care taken down to the millimeter after gauging feedback from a broad range of players of different ages.

There are no screw holes on the back of the device, which is actually more important than you think when it comes to comfort during extended gaming sessions.

That leads us on to how it handles and the more significant changes.

Better rubberised grips have been added to the direction sticks, which have also been made fractionally smaller for ease of movement.

"After 200 prototypes, 20 research studies, direct feedback from 500 testers and $100m spent on research and development, Microsoft has significantly upgraded an already-popular design." 

The D-pad has been refined following core gamer feedback. The new directional pad is better positioned and more flush on the pad, and under the hood it’s actually positioned closer to the motherboard so it has less distance to travel.

The new trigger and bumpers have been designed for performance and comfort, specifically angled for a natural fit on your fingers and a lighter pull making them more responsive.

Xbox One’s controller also features new haptic rumble feedback, with four vibrating motors – two in the handgrips and one behind each trigger. These Impulse Triggers mean players will be able to feel nuanced but important differences in-game; they’ll be able to tell the difference between a sniper rifle or a bazooka, or whether a car is cruising on tarmac or skidding in gravel, simply from the feel of the vibration.

The rumble of the controller chasis also promises to bring on-screen explosions or the roar of an engine to life.

So while from the outside the controller looks similar and the improvements appear to be incremental, under the surface it’s effectively a total revamp for the world’s most popular controller configuration.

And that $100 million has been spent researching, testing, improving and finessing the controller in order to make sure it’s the best controller experience ever made.


REVAMPED THUMBSTICKS: Redesigned smaller and outlined with a knurled texture for better grip and increased precision. Sticks require 25 per cent less force to move, making aim adjustment in a first-person shooter or executing a half-circle sweep in a fighting game faster and more accurate.

EXPANSION PORT: The controller has the flexibility to be wireless or wired with the use of a micro USB cable that plugs into the top of the controller. The increased data transfer rate between the controller and console has also been improved, allowing for higher fidelity audio in communication headsets.

IMPULSE TRIGGERS: New vibration motors in the triggers provide precise fingertip feedback bringing weapons, crashes, and jolts to life for a whole new level of realism.

INTERNAL BATTERY: The compartment is now built into the interior of the controller, providing more room at the bottom for fingers to grip.

BRAND NEW D-PAD: This has been architected to deliver more precision and tactile feedback. The D-pad’s cross shape is honed to provide accurate directional input, sweeping movements and combinations – important factors for sports and fighting games in particular.

CONNECTIVITY: Kinect associates the controller with whoever is holding it, meaning a split-screen display can swap positions on the TV if players change seats on the sofa.

LOW POWER STATE: The controller enters a low power state that conserves your battery if, for example, a movie is being watched or a break from the TV is being taken. The moment the controller is picked up again, it will be ready for use without having to resync with the console.

The Road to Xbox One is a series of profiles looking at the Xbox One experience, focusing on key games and hardware features, and updating you on retail activity and announcements from events like Gamescom.

Check your weekly MCV or visit MCVuk.com each Friday as we chronicle the Road to Xbox One.

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