Comparing Xbox and PlayStation controllers has been an obsession for gamers since the beginning of gaming consoles. Gamers are a funny breed of people and there are those that remain loyal to their favorite system regardless of which controller actually works better. Further complication this comparison is the fact that each system has several generations. Each generation of consoles make changes to both the gaming system and the controller. To best compare these controllers we will look at the newest generation and give the opinion from a non-biased point of view.
From a purely aesthetic viewpoint, the PS4 controller is more balanced. The thumb sticks are placed side by side in the center of the controller unlike the offset thumb sticks of the Xbox. The Xbox uses a combination of glossy and flat plastics, and looks a bit more bulky than the PS4. However, it is important to note that the appearance of the overall build has absolutely no pertinence or effect on the function of either controller. Plainly put, neither controller is aesthetically pleasing, but no one who uses them cares.
The PlayStation controller actually considers interchangeability, which is surprisingly considerate. The PS4 uses Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to the console. This is a common connection method so it is easy to interchange accessories. Another universal feature used by Sony is the universal jack for the headphones. You can use any set of headphones and are not held to using the PlayStation headphones.
Xbox does not care to be interchangeable in the least. They, in fact, use a proprietary port for their headphones. They also imply Wi-Fi direct to connect the controller to the console. While it is a particular connection method for a controller, it is a more reliable connection if you utilize several Bluetooth devices at the same time.
Each controller maintains its signature button labels. PlayStation continues to use the triangle, circle, square, and “X” while Xbox sticks with A, B, X, and Y. The Xbox continues to use the curved buttons while Sony stays with the flat version. Actually, there is nothing new to say about either set of buttons and comparing them is like comparing apples to oranges.
Xbox has a new feature on the start button that allows you to toggle between the menu and view perspectives. The PS4 has a new share button. Again, completely different features that are a matter of personal preference and not really comparable.
Triggers and Bumpers
When it comes to triggers, PlayStation is finally taking the Xbox lead. For years Xbox fans have long praised the intuitive feel of the curved trigger. PlayStation continued to use the awkward straight trigger until the latest generation of console. Now the triggers are comparable and the comparison comes down to reaction time, which can be effected by the game itself.
The Xbox bumpers have grown. The newest generation of controller features fat, slick and shiny bumpers. They actually disappear into the controller so they do not look as big as they have actually become. While the goal was to make the distance between the trigger and the bumpers less marked, the result is a stiff bumper that takes some getting used to.
The PlayStation button is a slim more rectangle button. The distance between the trigger and the bumpers is a bit further in comparison, however, the PS4 bumpers somehow feel better when playing.
Call it whatever you like, you know what we are taking about. The thumb stick, button, joystick, whatever, is the biggest visual difference between the controllers besides the button labels. While the Sony thumb sticks look more balanced sitting side by side in the middle of the controller, they are ergonomically miserable. Play one game, that uses both thumb sticks, for more than fifteen minutes and you will quickly understand the ergonomic nightmare of the PlayStation controller. While this is what makes the Xbox controller ugly, it is also what has made it a favorite amongst serious gamers. The offset sticks are much more comfortable to use especially for long durations. The side by side sticks will cause your hand to cramp within a few minutes.
Both controllers have sought to make the sticks more tactile. Gone are the slick buttons that sweaty and frantic thumbs fly right off. Now both controllers feature texturized sticks that help your thumb stay in place. The Xbox sticks are much smaller than the PlayStation sticks. While this feels awkward at first, the smaller size seems to allow for a wider range and more sensitivity.
In the connectivity section the user consideration of PlayStation was discussed. Well, they forgot about this when it comes to the battery. The PS4 has a rechargeable battery which is undoubtedly better for the planet. The problem is in the fact that you cannot remove this battery. So, if you are in the middle of a marathon gaming session and your controller is dead you either have to plug in or wait for your controller to recharge.
Xbox caters to the addicted marathon gamer. They dare not interrupt your epic sessions and allow you to change your rechargeable batteries to either a fresh pair or regular batteries. There are even some great options for xbox controller charging docks that make it very easy. There is no need to pull out the corded version or wait for that dreaded recharge.
With the important basics covered all that is left is comparing Xbox and Playstation controllers extras. Xbox appears more secure in their controller’s capabilities and spent little time on new extras. The only notable new extra for Xbox is the vibration motor that is now in the triggers instead of just the palm. The result is a few new tactile features in game.
The PlayStation controller has flashy new extras, literally. This controller has a new light at the front of the controller that has several purposes. The first is to help calibrate the tracker. The next is to allow the multiplayer split screen to actually detect which side each player is on. The last purpose is game play. Several games use the light as a life bar indicator. The light fades to red as health declines.
Xbox has fewer updates in the latest generation for one reason, they just needed less. PlayStation has had catching up to do for years. It appears this year they finally made an attempt to bridge the gap.