DualShock 4 vs Xbox One Pad – Which Is Better?
We had hands-on time with the new controllers at E3, testing them extensively, albeit from a standing-awkwardly-next-to-games-media-fighting-for-elbow-room stance rather than our traditional slumped half-dead on a sofa, barely able to muster up the energy to mash buttons to skip through conversations stance.
Since coming back to the office all we’ve been asked are questions like “which pad is better?” and “did you put on weight?”
Instead of answering every single time, we’ve decided to write this and will email it to those asking in the future. This is probably more effort than just saying “dunno”. Oh well. Onwards!
One of the main upgrades for DualShock 4 concerns the L2 and R2 buttons. The L2 and R2 buttons on DualShock 3 felt ‘spongy’ and sloped downwards, making it harder to grip than it perhaps should have been. On DualShock 4, the L2 and R2 buttons don’t have to travel as far to register and feel much flatter and thinner than the chunky shoulder buttons we’ve spent years getting used to. The DualShock 4 shoulder buttons also have a slight lip on the end, replacing the downward slope. All in all, a big upgrade.
Ergonomically, there are no issues with the DualShock 4, which fits in your hands much like the DualShock 3 did. There will be personal preference come into it but we didn’t really feel any obvious difference between the two, except for the fact that DualShock 4 feels a little heavier than its predecessor.
What really stood out about DualShock 4 was how precise and easy to use the analogue sticks were when gently nudging them. With the DualShock 3, gently moving the sticks – say, for stealth sections or driving games – means you having to negotiate an awkward combination of the stick’s resistance plus the small dead zone before you’d moved them far enough see the feedback on the screen of your character inching forward or a car starting to turn.
That’s not an issue with DualShock 4’s analogue sticks, which instantly respond to any movement. This was most evident when playing Driveclub – it’s possible to tease your car around corners using the slightest pressure on the right analogue stick. As with the improved shoulder buttons, it’s a huge upgrade.
The x-factor with the DualShock 4 will be the touchpad and we expect the way Killzone: Shadow Fall uses it, allowing you to switch gadgets by swiping without having to pause the game, will become the de facto use. You’ll be able to call up inventories, weapon wheels and so on just by touching and swiping. Creative? Perhaps not. Useful? Perhaps so.
There will be more interesting uses for the touchpad in the future – Media Molecule, we’re looking at you – but at the very least, Killzone: Shadow Fall’s use of that feature shows it won’t feel as redundant as the Vita’s rear touchpad does right now, for example.
Like the DualShock 4, Xbox One doesn’t feel that removed from its predecessor, although there’s a bigger difference with the ergonomics. It feels lighter than Xbox 360’s pad did (and lighter than DualShock 4) and the back of the pad doesn’t have the same exaggerated inwards curve that the Xbox 360 pad did. It’s hard to explain but the short version is – it’s every bit as comfy as the Xbox 360 pad is to hold, just slightly different.
The surface of the pad is flatter. The buttons aren’t quite as pronounced and d-pad doesn’t erupt from the surface like the Xbox 360 equivalent did. The d-pad itself was the weak point of the Xbox 360 pad and it has been completely overhauled, now feeling a lot more subtle but also more precise.
Unfortunately we didn’t get any extended time using the d-pad – the game we spent the most time with was LocoCycle, which was better played on the analogue sticks – so we can’t vouch for just how good the d-pad actually is. Even so, first impressions suggest it’s a big improvement on the Xbox 360 d-pad.
The trigger and bumpers are perfect. The rumbling triggers, while somewhat gimmicky, do add another layer of feedback from the pad. It’ll be interesting to see if developers can come up for an innovative use for these but even the simple act of having one trigger rumble for guns being fired feels unusual and exciting.
The only significant change is that the Back and Start buttons have been replaced by View and Menu, and while we’ll have to wait and see exactly what purpose they serve (Menu was a glorified Start button in most games we played), their physical placement on the pad will take a while to get used to.
Which Is Better – DualShock 4 Or Xbox One Pad?
Without extensive time and a variety of games to test across both pads, it’s difficult to declare a winner. The main takeaway here is that both pads are clearly better than their predecessors – this isn’t a boomerang or Xbox burgerpad fiasco and there are no contentious design choices like the Nintendo 64 or GameCube pad. Both DualShock 4 and Xbox One’s pad are clearly very good and there aren’t any obvious flaws to mention.
If forced to pick a winner – and we’re not but what the hell, let’s continue down this road – then DualShock 4 has more potential, thanks to its touchpad. Xbox One’s rumble triggers are interesting but don’t have the long-term potential of DualShock 4’s touchpad. Xbox One does have the advantage of inbuilt Kinect to add more user input but in terms of pads alone, DualShock 4 shades it.
Again, it’s worth mentioning though – both pads are very, very good and the fact that it’s so hard to choose between them is a great thing for anyone planning on picking up either console.