As we lead up to E3, we’ll be breaking down each facet of the console wars as they stand. We’ll break down each consoles’ controller, their features, games library, and online offering, culminating in a post-E3 comparison of the two juggernauts in the next-gen race.
Begun, the console wars, have.
At first glance, they’re about what you would expect from next-gen PlayStation and Xbox controllers. The design is simultaneously improved and familiar. The shape hasn’t really changed. The typical face buttons and shoulder buttons all seem to be exactly the same.
Upon closer examination however, the controllers do have some key differences. The Xbox One controller had specialty hardware like touch pads, screens and microphones experimented on with it, but in the end, it’s just a good, old-fashioned game controller. On the flip side, the PlayStation 4 controller is more of a specialty controller, boasting a touch pad on the front, as well as an LED motion sensor on the top, giving the controller both touch-based and motion-based input, neither of which are present in the Xbox One controller.
Both controllers appear to address the main complaints directed towards the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 controllers of the current generation. The Xbox 360 controller is near-perfect in design, but it’s dragged down by a squishy, uncooperative D-Pad, which is the main reason why it feels more innately poorly-suited to 2D games. The Xbox One controller has thrown that out, just delivering a more traditional plus-shaped D-Pad, akin to what Nintendo usually offers. This is great news, since it means that 2D games, and especially fighting games, will now be much easier to play on Xbox One compared to Xbox 360!
Likewise, the PlayStation 3 controller was criticized for being too compact and squishing everything so close together. The PlayStation 4 controller addresses this by being larger, but not messing with the traditional PlayStation inputs. How effective the touch and motion inputs are between games remain to be seen, but so far, it looks to be an improvement over what we’ve had to work with on PlayStation 3.
Considering that some of the control technology is unproven at this point however, we have to give this one to Microsoft too. The Xbox One controller seems to take the traditional gaming inputs, and focus on what makes them satisfying and intuitive, without forcing gimmicks on top of them. Better force feedback in the triggers, the same wholly satisfying Xbox controller design, and specialty buttons for menus and app-swapping on the fly, really make Xbox One’s controller seem like the better input device so far. We are however quite impressed with the PlayStation 4’s ingenious and unique ‘Share Button’ as well, which allows players to quickly and easily capture and stream footage online.
Another reason why Microsoft gets a narrow win here, is because the Xbox One boasts an improved and refined Kinect redesign that comes packaged with the console. PlayStation 4 still supports PlayStation Move, meaning you don’t have to pack your Move away if you bought one for your PlayStation 3, but obviously, that’s the same technology as before. We wouldn’t be heartbroken if Microsoft tweaked the new Kinect so that it wasn’t always watching us though.