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Hands-on with Xbox One's new controller

We go hands on with Xbox One's new controller. (And we liked it!)

Who knew something as gimmicky-sounding as "impulse triggers" would prove to be so fun to use? The addition of rumble motors on the shoulder triggers may sound like an insignificant change at first, but it really does significantly enhance the immersion that vibrating controllers can offer. The impulse triggers are quite possibly the most significant upgrade made to the Xbox One controller. Microsoft PR likes to say there are over 40 improvements made, resulting in all new thumbsticks that have better grip and take 25% less force to move. There's also an entirely new D-Pad, quite possibly the weakest aspect of the original Xbox 360 controller. And there's magnetic sensors in the triggers for "added precision." While the One controller largely resembles the original 360 controller, the contours have been changed to "fit a wider range of hand sizes," and according to a Microsoft rep, the new controllers have been "tested in gamers aged 14-40" around the world. The controller now features an internal battery compartment, instead of having a battery pack bulge out like it did before. And each controller will come with two rechargeable AA batteries that can be consumer-replaced at any time. For a company that likes making proprietary accessories, their stance on batteries is quite refreshing.

Xbox One features two new buttons: View and Menu

There's also two new buttons, replacing the "Back" and "Start" buttons of ye olde 360 controller. The "View" button (left) will change the type of view you'll see on the screen. Imagine in a racing game, you can switch between cockpit view or a third-person view. In an RPG, you may want to bring up your inventory or the map. The "Menu" button (right) will be similar to Start, but will offer "contextually appropriate menus." But boy, are those impulse triggers something. Following its Xbox One reveal event, Microsoft gave us an opportunity to go hands-on with the new controller. Unfortunately, they didn't offer any live gameplay demos, making it difficult to assess the accuracy of their claims. The tech demos did show off the impulse triggers in action, emulating what it would feel like to play a racing game, or a shooter, for example. The racing demo was probably my favorite. Even without the audio or visual cues, I could feel that the car was braking due to the feedback in the left trigger. Feeling a subtle recoil effect in the shooter demo was also a nice touch. It's not the biggest revolution in controller history, but it's a novelty that's immediately appreciated. Oddly, although the demos were all conducted on PC, Microsoft currently has "nothing to say" about making a PC version of the One controller. Given how ubiquitous the Xbox 360 controller has become in PC gaming, we'd be surprised if Microsoft didn't release a Windows-friendly version of the One controller.

Andrew Yoon was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 22, 2013 7:30 AM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Hands-on with Xbox One's new controller.

    We go hands on with Xbox One's new controller. (And we liked it!)

    • reply
      May 22, 2013 7:36 AM

      Cool Andrew thanks for this, sounds like a good controller basically a better version of the orig(which is a good thing), hope it comes to the pc as well.

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      May 22, 2013 8:00 AM

      This is the best piece of news regarding the Xbox One IMO. I'll definitely want one of these for my PS4 :(

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        May 22, 2013 8:43 AM

        Yeah, this is one of the few positives for the new system. Force feedback always helped me in racing games when it was implemented well. You can use it to gauge how hard you're taking a turn. So more feedback on the triggers can help a lot.

        And I've always wondered why everybody isn't just copying the Sega Saturn d-pad. That's almost universally accepted as the best d-pad.

    • reply
      May 22, 2013 8:38 AM

      Andrew, does the controller itself recharge the AA batteries or do you need the typical NiMH battery charger?

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        May 22, 2013 9:46 AM

        I believe the controller will be recharged if connected via USB. However, I will need to double check on that for you.

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          May 22, 2013 10:50 AM

          that would suck. i really like removable AAs with option of a battery pack for those that prefer them. the AAs you can at least take out and replace inexpensively when a battery pack dies or can't hold a charge after 2 or 3 years. plus swapping out batteries is way better than hooking up a USB cable and sitting 4' away from your tv to charge and play. plus eneloops!

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            May 22, 2013 10:56 AM

            It has removable AA batteries, they are just set into the controller now, instead of needing the battery pack extending from the back of it.

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      May 22, 2013 8:46 AM

      I had to read all the way to the 7th paragraph to tell what impulse triggers are... and then, only because it can be implicitly deduced there. Mr. Yoon, why would you assume everyone knows what an impulse trigger is when it's new tech and being introduced here? Explain wtf it is in the first paragraph if you're gonna talk about it so much.

      • reply
        May 22, 2013 11:12 AM

        It's in the second sentence? The addition of rumble motors on the shoulder triggers may sound like an insignificant change at first, but it really does significantly enhance the immersion that vibrating controllers can offer.

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          May 22, 2013 5:08 PM

          How does that explain what they are? That just says that they enhance something.

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            May 22, 2013 5:28 PM

            It specifically says that they're fucking rumble motors. Would you like a picture or something?

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              May 22, 2013 6:12 PM

              Oh, I see, so I'm supposed to understand Microsoft's proprietary naming scheme? Saying "rumble motor" to me is like saying "impulse trigger". It's not a scientific word, it's a word Microsoft made up.

              Anyway, keep arguing if you want, I'm pointing out a problem I had with the article... AndrewYoon can choose to ignore me or listen, I'm not forcing anyone to do anything.

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                May 22, 2013 6:26 PM

                "Rumble motor" isn't something they made up, it's the most general term for the tech that makes gamepads vibrate. Vibration motor is also common. It's the same principle that makes your cell phone shake when on vibrate.

                I suppose if you've never opened a controller with rumble functionality since the first Dual Shock (maybe even before that if you could the N64's rumble pak), and have also never seen one of those translucent shelled gamepads in action, you probably wouldn't know that the rumble is caused by tiny motors that spin a small weight around. Hence rumble motor.

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                May 22, 2013 6:45 PM


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                May 22, 2013 7:05 PM

                That's a descriptive term not a proprietary name. If you can't figure out that means the triggers will vibrate, you've got some serious cognitive challenges ahead of you.

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                May 22, 2013 7:10 PM

                Much like a keyboard is a board with keys, a rumble motor is a motor that rumbles. Haven't you ever disassembled a controller before?!?!?

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            May 22, 2013 5:30 PM

            They are additional rumble motors near the triggers. That's all. They enhance the feedback you get from games as the developers can program each trigger to vibrate independently of each other and the other standard rumble motors.

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          May 22, 2013 7:11 PM

          I have never experienced even the slightest amount of immersion from a controller vibration

    • reply
      May 22, 2013 9:24 AM

      Now this is the first thing about the new Xbox device that has me intrigued - though I'm more keen on using it on PC for various console ports.

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      May 22, 2013 9:34 AM

      They made the tension on the sticks even weaker? That sucks. For my tastes all three hardware makers make their analog sticks too weak as it is. So far there isn't a lot about this system that's winning me over.

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        May 22, 2013 11:27 AM

        Yeah this is another blow for me.. I hate the ps2 analogs.. they are way to loose.. why I prefer the xbox over ps2 currently for the controller alone.. 25% less force to move. yuck

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          May 22, 2013 11:31 AM

          You are confusing deadzone with ease to move. The ps2/3 controllers have a significant amount of play before they register movement. The xbox has a tighter pickup, the new one has an easier to move stick, but almost certainly much better sensors.

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            May 22, 2013 11:49 AM

            I prefer the tension against ease of movement for precision's sake.

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            May 22, 2013 11:58 AM

            Not sure if a tighter pickup is a good thing after seeing 360 gamepads that stick and drift in various directions. I had to return a few brand new ones to find one where both sticks were actually neutral when untouched. Searching around it was far from an isolated case, either.

            Hopefully that problem has been solved with the new controllers.

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        May 22, 2013 11:48 AM

        Agreed, I prefer higher tension sticks.

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      May 22, 2013 6:22 PM

      I had completely forgot how terrible the original controller was.

      It felt so awkward being in your hands. And those poor jewel buttons...

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      May 22, 2013 6:32 PM

      What's up with the new view and menu buttons? Wonder what that will mean for cross platform titles.

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        May 22, 2013 6:34 PM

        why would it change anything? They're two buttons placed in exactly the same place as start and select, just named differently, because start and select don't make much sense in this day and age. Both are almost never used for anything right now.

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          May 22, 2013 6:53 PM

          Heh, I almost never pause the game, or want to go to the inventory screen with one button press.

          Yes, I know most menus use A and B, but Select and Start are still very common conventional buttons to expose one-button configurability for users who want to avoid excessive button press prompts.

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            May 22, 2013 7:06 PM

            indeed, so they're still on the controller in exactly the same size, shape and orientation they always were, just with different names...

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      May 22, 2013 6:49 PM

      And the button label war continues. This is why I remember the buttons for what they do, and not for their labels.

      Right side face buttons, indexed by position from center:

      Bottom: Yes
      Right: No
      Top}r: Options
      Left: Press This To Not Die

      NOTE: in Japan, Right is Yes, and Bottom is No, despite the colors being backwards.

      I'll always call Select "Select" and Start "Start", because that's what it's been since the NES.

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      May 23, 2013 7:40 AM

      Will i be able to use my 360 controllers on the Xbone ?

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