While most of the discussion among fans and skeptics of Microsoft’s Xbox One has focused on the company’s indie publishing policies, launch games or multimedia integration, it’s important to not overlook the system itself. After all, gamers will be spending endless hours over the coming years with games in their system trays, and sweaty palms wrapped around the Xbox One’s new controller.
That meant seemingly doing the impossible for Zulfi Alam’s team: improving on the Xbox 360 gamepad – one of the most ergonomic and widely-praised controllers ever. Alam and Microsoft’s Major Nelson explain in a brand new video just how many changes, big and small, have been made to set the controller apart.
Now that additional Xbox One controllers are available for pre-order for those fans of cooperative or competitive titles, it’s a good time for Microsoft to explain just why they’ll each be worth the price tag (and why they won’t want to keep using their 360 counterparts. And the first points brought up by Alam are a good start, considering they’re mostly obvious changes that might have escaped even the most die-hard fan’s minds.
The removal of screw wells, the integration of the batteries into the controller’s frame instead of tacked onto the rear; and even if the improved D-Pad is the one demand made by nearly everyone who played the 360, it’s nice to know the designers were listening.
While the term ‘haptic feedback’ may not be in every gamer’s lexicon, it certainly will be in the coming years. Specifically, the term is used to describe the application of force, vibration, or ‘rumble’ to the player’s fingers; in the case of the Xbox One, through both the body and triggers of the new controller.
Alam points out that it’s up to individual developers to use the new vibration in engaging ways, but from what was demonstrated at E3 2013 – gunfire, heartbeats, and engine accelerating and the application of ABS – the potential for new levels of immersion is most certainly there.
From cosmetic to functional, Microsoft maintains that they’ve taken their time in designing – and consulted with ‘core gamers’ at every step along the way – what they believe to be the best Xbox controller to date. From our hands-on experience with the system, we’ll admit that the new, boxier shape (as opposed to the 360’s smooth curves) takes some getting used to. But the look and feel of it all – the buttons, the D-Pad, analog sticks – seems to be moving in the right direction.
That’s just our take though, so what’s yours? Does the overall design have your stamp of approval, or will your concerns only be dispelled when you play the system for yourselves? Sound off in the comments.
The Xbox One releases in November 2013.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.