Xbox One Controller Hands On: Rumbling Triggers Are Freaking Awesome

You probably heard Microsoft mention that the new Xbox One controllers have 40 new features to make them easier to use. That's true! But a few really take the cake. And the rumbling triggers are going to be the biggest.

After holding one for a few minutes, I can say officially that the Xbox One controller is very nice. It's just more comfortable. This comes from a variety of alterations, like moving the batteries into the controller itself to making the back one solid piece, but the biggest change is moving the centre of gravity closer to your body, giving you less to prop up on the far end. Think of holding out a baseball bat with a 10 pound weight on the very tip versus right up on your hands. It just makes sense.

The improved D-Pad is far, far easier to use than the current version's, the analogue sticks have an easier to handle give to them, and the centre Xbox button is moved farther up, which feels a little more natural (though it'll be more of a pain to use if you use it often like me). Overall, it's supposed to fit in more hand sizes more comfortably.

But that rumbling. It really does seem like it can add a better immersive experience. Microsoft set up a few stations for us to try out the new controllers, with six demos of how the effect can be used in actual gaming scenarios, or at least gimmicky ones. Here's a quick and dirty rundown of each. The green highlights in each video, which were shown on screen, are below.

Here you see a wheel coming to a slow stop, and you feel that through the controller. But as it slows down, the tick tick tick of the spokes is felt in the left trigger, in short bursts that line up with what's on the screen. Pretty cool.

Here's a standard gun being fired, and each time it shoots, the right trigger and only the right trigger fires a rumble. It feels very, very cool when you're just holding the controller, but a little less so when you're actually pulling the trigger (it was automated in the demo) as the gun fires, because you get less sensation from pressing down.

Here's a helicopter flying in and out of the frame, and the rotors rumbling back and forth, in asymmetrical unison to simulate the blades. There was some additional movement in the demo where it was falling and came back up, tilted to the right, and one finger fired up much higher as it banked to save itself. It feels infinitely more like a helicopter than regular old rumbling, at least to my brain.

This demo is deceptively cool. As the fire rumbles up in your hands, you get a medium burst, but as you throw it, the rumbles change slightly, and shift more toward your finger tips. You actually feel the momentum.

The last demo was of a heart monitor, but the video was ruined because I'm sort of dumb, so here's a pic of the station. The demo itself was what you'd expect, with the pulses of the controller following the heart beat across the screen, across your fingers.



      The battery is built into the new controller from what i hear

      Was there any mention of battery packs?

        Pretty much this. No point in having a wireless controller if it's tethered to the console half the time for charging (and in the PS3's case, by a ridiculously short cable), or if it's unusable unless you have some spare AAs lying around somewhere. Battery packs strike the perfect balance - one charges while I use the other, so my controller is always usable.

          i'm the same i have a charging dock, when one runs out i hop up and switch it, no biggie!

          Last edited 22/05/13 3:05 pm

      Why wouldn't they? I hate that the batteries for the PS3 controller are built in and you don't have a choice.

        me too!!! I hate that I am not inconvenienced by looking for new AA batteries or wasting time recharging the AA batteries ready for use

        I really hate that they were smart enough to add a rechargeable battery pack inside the controller than can charge on any USB device

        Very annoying and too user friendly... what were they thinking

        (for everyone else - that was sarcasm)

          Cept for the fact that there will be rechargeable battery packs for it and you have the option to use your own rechargeable AAs if that's how you roll. Now if the battery in your PS3 controller doesn't hold charge or dies the whole thing is shat, not so if its just some AAs or a pack.

        PS3 wouldnt be so bad if the cable were longer

          Mine always seems to unseat too, so it'll stop charging for a second then start charging again - in the process my controller turns itself off and I have to hit the Home button to turn it back on, mid-game. This really screwed me a few times the last time I tried to play Heavy Rain.

          Maybe it's just a me problem since I hardly ever use my PS3 so my controllers are never fully charged and used wirelessly, but it drives me crazy.

          It would have been nice to get a longer cable straight out of the box but it wasn't exactly difficult to source a much longer cable. From memory it was less than $10 to get two 5m cables.

      When the batteries go flat I just rip some out of the TV remote or something and keep playing.

      No need to hook up a cord, or wait for it to recharge.

    ...what does this have to do with the new console!? You're capable of doing this right now on the current consoles.

      no. This is the trigger rumbling rather than the controller. subtle but important difference. I expect more subtle and precise use of this and actually really like the idea.

    It does not make you want to pick it up. The most interactive part of any console should make you want to pick it up and use it. It looks like the design team said. It is cheaper if we do it this way.

    Thank gawd for the cross d-pad. I will be upgrading my pc controller at least and it should only cost a arm and a leg.

    I can see this being kinda cool if say, in a game like Skyrim, when blocking you can feel blows thru your shield and sword. Not necessary but more tactile than just the whole controller shaking.

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