It’s hard to beat a good old-fashioned argument fuelled by fanboyism and healthy dose of purchase justification. That said, the DualShock 4 is hands-down the best controller on the market right now. Just kidding… (Or am I?).
So, which controller is best? These innocuous black gizmos are our very means of connecting with our games. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of getting them right. With many hours of now current-gen console controller use under our belts, let’s compare the two obvious ones and see if they could be usurped by the up-and-coming Steam Controller.
Which Is More Comfortable?
There’s a school of thought that says a comfortable controller should feel like gently shaking hands with a fat man. It should be like a hug. But, for your hands… Weird analogies aside, we can safely say Sony’s DualShock 4 is one mighty comfortable controller.
The newly shaped triggers catch your index fingers in a poised and ready position, hands leaning slightly forward. The rest of your fingers are left to cup the back of the wings with their comfortable, grippy surface in a satisfying way. The addition of dips in the analog sticks catch the thumb tips, giving them somewhere to rest and better purchase when you try to move them.
On the downside, the option buttons are kind of awkwardly placed. It’s not an immersion-killer, because when you’re using them, you’ll be in the menu systems anyway. But they are awkward nonetheless.
What about the Xbox One controller? Well, arguably fewer changes have been made since the 360 which was an amazingly comfortable piece to begin with. As always, it looks slightly imposing in size but the hand positions underneath grip firmly, giving you a feeling of control over the buttons on top.
Thank the gaming gods, the Dpad has mercifully received a complete workover. It’s now much more responsive and pleasing to use. The analogue sticks are slightly higher, which some of the team found a little awkward at first (going back to the 360 over the weekend, however, for a Halo game left us wishing for the new joysticks). The increased height also means you have to move it slightly further, making crosshair aiming a little odd until your fingers adjust to the new location. While the position of the new triggers is comfortable enough, they feel a little squishier than you may be used to, which can leave you wondering whether or not you actually fired.
Which Has the Best Features?
Let’s start with the Xbox this time. The idea of having rumbling triggers is categorically awesome and whoever thought of it deserves a cookie, maybe even a pay raise. We haven’t seen too many games take full advantage yet, but those who have are awesome and we expect good things from this feature in games to come. Having the battery pack internal makes things a tad trickier than its predecessor, but the battery life is outstanding which compensates for additional fiddling.
On the other hand, the DualShock 4 has a miserable, terrible, disappointing battery life. Plugging it in to recharge all the time is a bummer, especially as you’ll never want to put it down (it’s a hug for your hands, after all). The touchpad doesn’t react quite like you’d expect and is also a bit awkward to reach with your thumbs. We’re yet to see much use of it in games so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Where Does the Steam Controller Come In?
Well, only a handful of people in the world have actually used one. For this reason, rather than comparing the Steam Controller against the others, we’ll look at what we know and see some reports.
Obvious stuff first. Rather than a Dpad and analogue sticks, the Steam Controller seeks to replace the keyboard and mouse with force feedback-delivering trackpads. One word. ‘Ambitious’… Well, as we should all know by now, Valve is a pretty ambitious company. Another, word could be ‘savvy’, ‘successful’, and if you were a total fanboy, you may even consider using the word ‘awesome’ which, by the way, we just did…
But, there are plenty of skeptics (this is the Internet we’re talking about here). Valve recently released a YouTube video with an engineer giving a demonstration, playing Counter Strike: Global Offensive to show the precision of crosshair movements. Honestly, it’s difficult to tell how good it really is just from watching a video. After all, we’ve seen people using the OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator in videos. Yes, we stuck ours on eBay, too…
The trackpads are configurable. You can you can set one up to act like a mouse and the other like WASD, with the circle being segmented in pie shapes. Or, both can act like a mouse for super sharp cursor control. We felt Valve hit the nail on the head mentioning Sid Meier’s Civilization would be a great game to play on the sofa. Now, it kinda looks like we can.
In an interview with Engadget, president of Dejobaan Games (which incidentally made AAaAaaAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity from our indie games feature) discussed his hands-on experience. By all accounts, the control is incredibly comfortable and effective for FPS and other games. For in depth opinions on first-hand experiences, check out this article from Kotaku.
Over to you…
Will Valve’s Steam Controller be a success or a big, boggle-eyed fail? Is the DualShock 4 better than Xbox One controller, or did Sony pay a bunch of Fanboys to cast their votes in this opinion poll where the Playstation controller has double the votes? Let us know your opinion in the comments section.