If you have already got a robust gaming PC, shopping for a brand new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X won’t make a lot sense. They’re expensive, and plenty of of their video games are already out there on PC. However shopping for a brand new controller to play a few of these video games on PC is a special story. A brand new controller can provide you a style of that next-gen pleasure for lots much less cash.
For the final week I have been enjoying video games with the brand new Xbox Sequence X/S controller in addition to the PlayStation DualSense, which has been grabbing consideration due to its new haptic motors. They’re each nice—here is the rundown of how they examine, what they every do particularly effectively, and the way simple they’re to make use of with a PC as we speak.
New Xbox controller and DualSense: The fundamentals
|Haptics||Sure, and “Impulse” triggers||Extra highly effective and nuanced motors, and “Adaptive” triggers|
|Movement sensor||No||Gyroscope + accelerometer|
|Headphone jack||3.5mm (and “enlargement” port)||3.5mm|
|Battery||2x AA||1,560 mAh rechargeable|
|New buttons||Share, reworked D-Pad||Mic mute|
|Wi-fi tech||Xbox Wi-fi Radio (console), Bluetooth Low Power||Bluetooth 5.1|
|Weight||292.5 grams||282.5 grams|
Xbox controller’s notable design modifications: The brand new Xbox controller’s form is barely barely modified from the Xbox One design, which Microsoft says is supposed to raised match smaller fingers (it nonetheless matches my bigger fingers very effectively). The D-Pad is totally redesigned with a very clicky raised round design that appears to make each cardinal and diagonal inputs exact and simple. The again of the controller has a brand new, tough texture to offer higher grip, and it feels nice. The bumpers and triggers at the moment are matte as an alternative of shiny plastic, and the triggers have that very same grippy texture on prime, too.
The strain of the joysticks, buttons and triggers is unchanged, however the triggers and bumpers really feel nicer to press due to the matte end. There’s now a share button within the middle of the controller for shortly taking screenshots or video on the Xbox. The tyranny of micro-USB is one step nearer to demise because the Xbox controller switches to USB-C.
PlayStation DualSense’s notable design modifications: The DualSense retains the identical joysticks and button placements of the DualShock 4, however with a extra rounded grip form this time. The massive lightbar is gone, changed by a extra refined glow across the touchpad. The Choices and Share buttons are barely smaller and far clickier. A small microphone mute button has been added underneath the PS brand button.
The true modifications are largely inside. The triggers are barely bigger, and might now “push again” towards your finger with a gear that modifications the stress. The standard weights that create haptic suggestions have been changed by bigger, extra highly effective motors that may create far more nuanced rumble. USB-C kicks micro-USB to the curb.
The face-off: Xbox vs. DualSense
Controller advertising and marketing has made an enormous deal out of rumble earlier than, however nothing has delivered just like the DualSense. Play a PS5 recreation that takes benefit of how highly effective its haptics might be, like pack-in Astro’s Playroom, and you will instantly really feel the distinction. There’s by no means been a controller that might ship particular sensations to your hand like this earlier than. The triggers are the much less flashy new characteristic, however in all probability much more helpful—with the ability to add pressure to a set off pull or an accelerator or any motion, even climbing up a ledge, is basically thrilling.
I wrote in additional depth about how cool the DualSense’s new tech is here, so I will not belabor the purpose. However the hype is justified.
Switching to the Xbox controller after utilizing the DualSense and feeling the haptics in a recreation like Forza Horizon 4, it actually does really feel abruptly very old school. It is a bit like switching from SD to HD. There’s a lot readability and element in that new rumble. Even taking these superior options away, I feel the DualSense is a refined enchancment over the DualShock 4. It is a bit wider and extra contoured, which inserts higher into my fingers. That may not be the case for somebody with smaller fingers than mine. It additionally removed the arduous rims across the D-Pad and face buttons for a easy floor, which simply makes it general extra nice to carry.
However even with these enhancements, there’s one thing in regards to the Xbox controller’s form that simply feels excellent. I believed it was excellent with the Xbox 360, after which Microsoft made it higher. I believed it was excellent with the Xbox One, however once more, it is higher, although extra subtly this time. The marginally shorter, smaller grips accommodate extra hand sizes with out sacrificing consolation for giant fingers like mine. It has a bit extra of a pyramid profile than the DualSense—my fingers really feel actually far aside on the DualSense after I press the shoulder buttons, whereas the Xbox brings my fingers nearer collectively. You maintain the DualSense, however you cradle the Xbox controller.
It feels each cozier and extra alert, nearly like taking a boxer’s stance. And a pair extra execs on the Xbox facet: the brand new tough texture on the again and the triggers, and the general matte end feels implausible and tremendous grippy. It feels actually prime quality, the type of very exact, considerate iteration you get while you’re making an attempt to enhance on an already-very-good design.
Microsoft has merely mastered the basics, and there are three different elements of its design I favor over the DualSense:
- The asymmetrical analog stick placement, giving the left stick precedence. Completely my choice right here, however I’ve all the time favored this structure higher.
- The rubber texture of the analog stick on the Xbox controller offers you a way more concave “cup” to relaxation your thumb in, or a grippy rim to push towards. I discover the Xbox analog sticks extra exact and comfy underneath my thumb. The DualSense makes use of the identical stick rubber because the DS4, which I consider Sony improved over time (launch DS4 sticks received torn up notoriously simple), however they nonetheless really feel much less sturdy than the Xbox’s.
- The Xbox’s new 8-way D-Pad has a really loud, satisfying click on to it as you register inputs. It is an actual pleasure simply to wiggle your thumb round on it. I am going to await the combating recreation execs to weigh in on how completely it registers inputs, however I feel it is likely to be the perfect D-Pad on any fashionable controller.
If I needed to choose certainly one of these controllers, it could truthfully be a battle. Usually, I would relatively maintain the Xbox controller, really feel that textured again on my palms and use its analog sticks and D-Pad. However it’s type of evaluating very, excellent to easily excellent. The DualSense has a nicer form than the DualShock 4 even earlier than you contemplate its spectacular new options.
I want I might have the DualSense’s new haptics and adaptive triggers within the Xbox pad, as a result of they actually do win the day. If I do know a recreation I am excited for makes use of these options—together with the speaker within the DualSense, which helps add that means to what your mind thinks you are feeling when the haptics fireplace—I would completely select it over the Xbox pad. They’re that cool.
However that brings us to an enormous hanging query: Will the DualSense work on PC?
DualSense and Xbox on PC
For those who plug the Xbox controller into your PC with a USB cable, it really works like all previous Xbox controller—it is shortly acknowledged by Home windows and simply works. (One caveat is that the Share button would not appear to robotically map to something, however I would not be stunned to see that change post-launch.
Oddly, whereas the Xbox controller does assist Bluetooth connectivity, placing it in pairing mode did not present up for my Bluetooth adapter. I had no challenge connecting to the DualSense with Bluetooth.
The DualSense additionally works fantastic in Home windows for those who plug it in or join through Bluetooth, however “working” is much more restricted right here. As a result of it registers as a generic DirectInput controller, it will not work in lots of video games which can be constructed to assist the Xbox pad. Steam’s controller configurator helps—with it you may map all of the buttons and inform Steam to deal with it like a DualShock 4, that means you will even get PlayStation button prompts within the Steam UI and in video games that assist it.
Sadly, the downside proper now could be that the brand new haptic motors do not work with this setup. Steam might shortly add higher assist for the DualSense and produce the rumble on-line. However even then, really getting the true good thing about the DualSense’s extra superior rumble and its adaptive triggers requires particular game-by-game programming.
I am desperate to see what the mod neighborhood does to assist the DualSense; perhaps we see a software like DS4Windows pop up within the first few months. However without an official driver, it is unlikely that any video games will be capable to assist the total performance of the DualSense on PC.
For now, the Xbox controller is the higher PC expertise. It is easy. Microsoft has honed its form to perfection (no less than till subsequent time). However it does really feel just like the final iteration of an previous type of controller, whereas the DualSense is the primary of a brand new breed that enhances the expertise of enjoying a recreation. Let’s hope PC players get a chunk of that motion.