There might not be a bunch of huge differences between the Xbox 360′s control pad and the Xbox One’s, but there are some marked improvements and a few things that you can’t see just by looking at the new pad.
Simply handing the controller to someone else and automatically switching profiles is just flat-out impressive. For those that missed it in the presentation, Kinect automatically recognizes the controllers thanks to a series of LED’s built into the top of the unit.
Also kind of a big deal is that you can actually switch the pad from wireless to wired simply by plugging the cable into the top of the controller. Wired pads are the preferred method of control for many who like the zero latency that they offer and this way players can have their wireless cake and plug in too.
Then there are the micro-rumblers housed in the triggers. Even more force-feedback is one this, but that developers can actually lend more or less force to the left or right trigger and customize the feel of a weapon in a game is pretty nifty stuff.
I had the chance to play around with the Xbox One controller at the San Diego Comic Con a few weeks ago and it’s definitely a lot more comfortable in your hands than the already great 360 pad. It’s got a more compact feel to it and the modified placement of the buttons, though minor, really does make a difference while you play. The absence of the bulky battery pack on the backside of the controller is a really nice addition by subtraction too. There was nothing blocking my hands on the back of the pad at all, which is far from the case with the Xbox 360 controller.
I’m used to pressing my fingers up against the battery compartment as I play and there’s just nothing there on the Xbox One controller. It’s actually a really nice feeling that’s similar to the way a Dual-Shock feels, but a little less ‘chunky’ and more slender. Actually, that could go for the whole pad. The Xbox One controller definitely seems more fine-tuned, which I suppose is kind of the point.
I noticed the force-feedback too. It’s an interesting sensation that I’m sure will be explored a little more thoroughly as developers get more time with it. At the time, I wasn’t actually aware of the feature and I thought the extra oomph was just in my head… well, either that or the tremors from my pretzel-dog lunch.