The Big Question: Best Next Gen Controller

In my humble opinion, both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 got their controllers right. The Dual Shock 4 is a dramatic improvement over the last one, and the Xbox One's controller is a subtle evolution of what was arguably the greatest controller ever made. Which do you prefer?

Me? I honestly can't pick between them. The Xbox One controller's extra rumble is an amazing feature, but the Dual Shock 4? It has one of the most obviously genius additions to a controller ever — it allows you to plug a set of headphones directly into the controller itself. Amazing.

It's one of those, 'why didn't we have this before' innovations. One of those 'why didn't I think of that' ideas.

But yeah, this is a difficult one. Choose wisely.


    Wii U GamePad!

      The Wii u game pad is straight up hotness...
      okay all jokes aside the Ps4 controller is absaloute Mud!! we have far too many fanboys on here, those plastic cheap ass triggers what a total joke

    Gamepad. It lets you do the headphone thing too :P

    Shame it seems like it varies game to game on how that works exactly. Eg in Wonderful 101, as soon as I plugged in headphones all the sound was diverted through the gamepad and nothing came out of my TV any more. Whereas with Donkey Kong, it had a separate audio stream going to the gamepad and I only got that sound out of the headphones while the rest still came out of the TV. I mean I guess switching to play on the gamepad instead would have given all the sound through the headphones, but I still wanted to play on the TV.

    Anyway yeah. I hate the Bone controller and love the DS4, so that gets my vote.

    you left off the Wii U Gamepad and the Wii U Pro Controller, which I have found both are superior to the PS4 and Xbone controllers.

    And before someone says "omgz wii u isn't next gen" it is. You can't base gen solely on hardware power.

      Xbone, PS4, Wii U...

      None of them are next gen. They havent been next gen since release.

      They are Current Gen.

        Until X1, PS4, and WiiU become the norm for developers, and the majority of titles are published exclusively on them, I'd say they'll still be considered next gen.

        Last edited 09/04/14 11:48 am

      It probably wasn't left off this list because of its perceived generation. It was probably left off because Mark completely forgot about it.

      Eh, I'm not that big a fan of the Pro controller. I mean it's alright for the most part, but those trigger buttons... they're pretty awful.

      But then it has that whole 80 hours of battery life thing going on, so that's pretty cool. Not that mine's even been taken out of the box yet.

    Not going to vote since I haven't had a chance to use a DS4 yet, but have just gotten a bone and I'm kind of in love with the controller.

    When I first picked it up, it felt a little flimsy and I was worried it had lost that ergonomic sense that made the 360 controller my favourite. But after a little gaming everything just felt so responsive and perfect... I just love it.

    Also slightly unrelated, the capacitive "On" button on the console just feels awesome and future tech, shame it's unlikely to get used after the first time booting up the console =P

      Aren't capacitive power buttons last gen technology though? :)

        I think it's just a sign I'm getting old, I know it's far from a new technology but I can't recall quite as satisfying an example of the technology and certainly none that I've owned.

        It's just a shame that I'm pretty unlikely to use it again. Especially since I've managed to get the "Xbox On" working with my TV and Audio systems.

    DS4 - but it's a biased opinion because I don't own an Xbone and have only briefly grappled with one in a store display.

    But Sony made massive improvements over the DS3, the damn thing is pretty comfy.

    Clearly the answer is the one that is made by the company I have stated a lifelong allegiance to:
    Ducky. Viva la master race!

    the poll results show we have more PS4 owners in our midst. Also you could plug headphones directly into the Wii U Gamepad... why does everyone forget about that system lol.

    Last edited 09/04/14 11:31 am

    I can't vote fairly as I've only used the DS4 and haven't used an Xbone yet. I agree that the DS4 is better than the DS3 in feel, but I didn't find the DS3 in any way bad. Going back to DS3 for GTAV or The Last Of Us isn't an issue for me.

    I don't own either console yet, but here's my generally impression from short periods of time spent playing both.

    Ignoring the internal changes, I definitely prefer the Xbone pad. The DS4 is a massive improvement, but it retains some of the fundamental problems of the DS, namely that the sticks are placed pretty close to the extreme of the thumbs range of motion. I also think the Xbone pad still has slightly better triggers because they are deeper, allowing a more natural relaxation of the hand when holding it.

    My only criticism is that the Xbone pad doesn't have as much heft as I like. It feels a little bit cheap to be honest.

    Obviously the DS4 has a trackpad. Will be interesting to see if it does much more than replicate the functionality assigned to the dpad in most shooters.

      I've never bought into that idea, and I spent most of the last gen on Xbox. Your hands don't grasp a controller straight on, that's why the handles splay outwards instead of forwards like they did on the N64 controllers.

      Accordingly, the Dualshock 3/4 doesn't go anywhere near the extreme range of motion your thumbs should have, and if it did, why does your left hand not get sore playing games on a 360 controller considering it sits at the same point. The sticks themselves are horrid though, convex was a stupid design choice.

      There are plenty of mechanical and ergonomic reasons why DS3 was inferior, but the thumbsticks being better or worse because they're symmetrical and lower is merely a point of preference based on what you're used to, not placement superiority.

      Last edited 09/04/14 12:39 pm

        Convex are a great design choice. Small concave thumbsticks dig into my thumbs after extended periods, and my thumbs have to be in the exact centre of a concave thumbstick in order to get the best leverage. With convex thumbsticks, my thumb can be anywhere on the thumbstick - I can push it comfortably or I can roll my thumb over it.

        I wasn't talking about the symmetrical positioning (though I'll make the case why they SHOULD be asymmetrical below), but I do think that the stick placement is still off. Basically, if you relax your hands, your fingers and thumbs have a natural resting position. Ideally, the control should be shaped around this resting position because its the centre of the range of motion. Consequently, designing around this resting position minimises unnecessary movement. For the most part the DS4 is consistent with the resting position, but the sticks are a bit lower than they should be. By placing the lower, and closer to the extremity of the thumbs range of motion, you lose the ability to stretch the thumb and reach some of the shoulder buttons with your index finger. You actually have to readjust your grip slightly to reach them. That's not great design.

        The reason why the sticks should (arguably) be assymetrical is similar. Most of the time, you'll want your left thumb resting on the movement stick. However, because the right thumb is used for both aiming and pressing the face buttons, some sort of compromise is required. Most of the manufacturers have placed the right stick and the face buttons so that the thumb sits between them. Basically - the whole goal is to minimise movement.

        This stuff is ergonomics 101 by the way. I think Sony has retained its positioning because the DS design has become iconic.

          I don't know about anyone else, but my hands get cramped using the Xbox Layout. Why? Because I mainly use a Dualshock, so it feels natural, and it would be difficult to change if I wanted to.
          As @mccawsome and @wallgomez stated, it is simply a matter of personal preference.

          Last edited 09/04/14 2:59 pm

            Unfortunately, what feels right may not actually be great for your hands. The real problem is that you can become used to an ergonomically bad layout, to the point that you end up preferring it to more natural layout. This is actually quite bad for the hand in the long run. In fact, its a well known problem with keyboards - most people can't get used to more ergonomic designs (myself included), and they inevitably pay for it with wrist strain. I have a suspicion the DS will result in similar problems as gamers get older, because people shift their grip more when using the DS. In the end, I intentionally weened myself off the DS, and now usually use a 360 pad with my PS3.

              Say what you will, but if my hands "being good" means I have to have cramps in my left hand, then I'll stick with the PS3 controller. And I'm sure if it was as big as a problem that you suggest, a medical professional would have told us all, or some researcher at Sony would have pointed it out. Do you have a source for all of these controller ergonomics?

                Believe it or not, if you type "Playstation thumb" into google scholar, you'll get a lot of articles back. It doesn't actually compare different controllers though, and the condition has also been called Nintendo Thumb. I'll happily admit that most of my thoughts are based on inferences drawn from the design of other devices, and the known ergonomics of the hand (you can find a diagram by searching 'hand ergonomics' in google images). I have no doubt someone at Sony would have pointed out that the Dualshock is inconsistent with the ergonomics of the hand. I don't know why they proceeded. The point is, gamers do seem to be at risk of rsi, and non-ergonomic designs are likely to exacerbate that problem. If other, more ergonomic ,controls are uncomfortable, your hand may already be affected.


                  Seems to me like it's a matter of preference. Maybe the ergonomics of the hand are different in each person. Maybe a Dualshock is better for some people and an Xbox for others.

                  If that's the case, then why are most controllers designed with the hands being placed symmetrically rather than asymmetrically?

      I this Asymmetrical vs symmetrical argument so much.
      In my opinion is like asking do you prefer green or blue. Its a matter of personal preference and not a fundamental problem. There are many who prefer sym over A-sym. Personally I use both and after 5 minutes of swapping from one to the other I don't notice a difference at all.

    The Xbox One controller. The DS4 still feels like a cheap ass 3rd party controller. The thumb trackpad is ass and having big thumbs, I'm forever hitting it instead of the options or share buttons. Those two little buttons are recessed and don't provide adequate feedback once pressed.

    Playing the PS4 with this controller still feels like an effort rather than an extension. MS make the best controllers in my opinion.

    Last edited 09/04/14 11:40 am

    Care to elaborate on why "The Dual Shock 4 is a dramatic improvement over the last one"? Surely such a "dramatic improvement" would suggest a number of changes, of which you mention none?

    Xbox One for me.
    Simply because I just can't get comfortable with the thumbsticks on Playstation controllers. Even back with the PS1, I could only ever use the d-pad.

    Dual Shock 4 does seem like the most innovative and improved, particularly in regards to the previous dual shocks, and especially as X1's rumble triggers are barely used in any games.

    I’ve always hated Sony controllers but I liked the DS4 for the little time ive used one.
    I think the Xbone controller is a bit of a f*ck up too:

    *I don’t like the shape as much as the 360 controller.
    *The lack of an indicator to show which controller is player 1-4 would be fine if Kinect was actually reliable. I’ve had controllers switch user in between Forza races because we walked away from the screen for a few seconds. Unnecessary f*cking with a perfect system just for the sake of being “fancy”.
    *Both my controllers randomly drop out once every 5-6 hours I’d guess. I’m about 3m away from the console so I’ve got no idea why it happens, never happened on 360.
    *One of the motors on one of my controllers emits a high pitched squeak.
    *The trigger buttons leave a slight gap at the back near the top when fully compressed, the trigger actually sinks inside the curve of the controller.
    *Both my controllers have already accumulated more “grain” around the bottom of the stick than any controller I’ve had since the N64. God only knows why.
    *The slightly rough black finish feels cheaper than the 360 controller, the glowing power light looks terrible.

    So that’s my extreamly critical appraisal of the Xbone controller. I’m only being so negative because all these things are worse than they were on the 360 and all (except the squeaky motor) were totally uncessasary changes.

    I didn’t vote because I haven’t used both enough, but I’m assuming the DS4 is the better controller this time around.

    Last edited 09/04/14 11:46 am

    Haven't played with the PS4 controller, but have a PS3 and really prefer how the batteries aren't something I need to touch. I don't like that I have to buy something extra for the xb1 to get the same 'plug in to recharge' feature. Further to that is how long it takes the controller to come back to life after it's gone to sleep. After pressing the X button I feel like it takes an eternity compared to the PS3 controller. As the batteries weaken the xb1 controller goes to sleep very quickly, exacerbating the issue.

    Last edited 09/04/14 11:52 am

      I'd like to respectfully counterargue that:

      a) I prefer to have the option of using batteries or a replaceable recharge pack because the internal rechargeable battery starts to die after awhile and I don't necessarily want to replace an entire controller;
      b) the charge cabled they bundle with the DS3 are way too short for my purposes and I also find that the controller turns off whenever the connection is disturbed, so I had some really annoying moments in games such as Heavy Rain where I'd be playing with the controller plugged in and charging but I'd suddenly miss vital QTEs because I moved slightly and the cord jiggled.

      Obviously this is a matter of YMMV.

      I do agree the 360/XB1 controllers take a painfully long time to sync though. Watching videos on youtube more than a few minutes long sometimes causes the app to hang when it ends (rare, but annoying) and a lot of videos sometimes have long annoying outros as well, so you get into a habit of backing out when the video is done. If the controller is asleep (as is often the case) you yhave to deal with loud bs tacked on or the app hanging/crashing.

      We tried to rectify this with a media remote (which is a pretty slick gadget) but it doesn't work very well with youtube or older blu rays.

      One thing they have improved this gen is no "locking" of controllers to profiles. My controller died the other day while I was playing Titanfall (another whinge I have is how the low battery warning isn't obvious enough) and I couldn't find the charge cable in the heat of the moment. I grabbed my wife's controller and powered it on and in ten seconds I was good to go again - it didn't ignore the controller simply because it was different to the dead one, which happened occasionally on the 360.

      Last edited 09/04/14 12:46 pm

        The PS3 cord definitely is short :)
        Good point regarding recharge degradation. I guess it would have been nice, then, to have a single replaceable recharge pack come with the console.

        I agree with what your saying about having removable batteries (it's why I have Samsung handset), but the Xbone control really should have come with a rechargeable pack instead of making me pay for it after market. Thats just gouging. My order of preference is:

        1. Removable batteries included;
        2. Non-removable batteries included; and finally
        3. Removable batteries and after market purchase.

    Im really curious to know from users... How are the triggers on the XBoxOne?

    I would really like to get one for the lounge room and titan fall... but its xbox live that kind of sinks it for me... Titanfall is effectively useless without a live membership so i kind of have to factor that into the overall price.

      Only used for 10 mins. Triggers have a lot less travel than 360. d-pad is clicky like the 360 LB/RB. I'm not sure if I liked the face buttons, they seemed to drop into the controller too much.

      In other news, I wouldn't recommend the Xbone overall.

    Haven't got around to grabbing a ps4 but it will be Xbox One controller for me. The thumbstick placement is the deal breaker for me. I ended up getting a 3rd party controller for my PS3 with thumbsticks same as xbox

    Unless you have all the consoles this really becomes almost an illogical factional argument. Having said that I have both the current gen (Xbone and PS4) and feel that the PS4 controller has evolved nicely to almost match the Xbone version—in size at least—but I feel the angle of the hand grips is still a bit off. The speaker idea is good but I love the vibrating triggers on the Xbone controller and therefore feel more comfortable with it for long term gaming sessions.

    Well I've only used the dualshock 4 for a bit over 2 days but it's so far ahead of the dualshock 3 that it should have a new name, it's just that much better.

    Having shitty arthritic thumbs, I could only ever feel comfortable with a 360 pattern controller, using the DS3 meant I had to game for stints of no more than an hour (a decent portion of which was frustration at fingers slipping off those stupid convex R/L2 buttons and thumbs sliding off the moronic convex thumbstick stick domes) and then spend several hours afterwards recovering from joint pain. I spent $200 on aftermarket controllers for the PS3 just so I could keep using the console, that's how bad it was. I've played probably 8-9 hours of Infamous Second Son since Monday afternoon, my hands are fine.

    I can't make a reasoned call about the best controller until I've at least used an XB1 one but in a contest for most improved controller, I can confidently predict that the DS4 will win hands down.

      DS4 is a definite step forward immediately whereas the Xbone is a step back until you get used to it. Which one is better depends on how much more you preferred the 360 controller last gen (for me it was a lot so Xbone still wins, but for others not so much).

    I haven't used the xbox1 so I'm not going to vote but I have been loving the ps4 controllers touch pad in Warframe for the specials like the forward charge "slash and dash" or armouring up the rhino warframe. The hands(thumb) on directional swipe rather than a button push just feels right (badass even haha).

    Also the light showing your health/shields also adds a layer of immersion that once it starts flashing red you know you've got a few seconds to get to safety.

    I hope a lot more ps4 games follow Warframes lead in how to use the controller.

    The worst game for the ps4 controller was ffxiv where they tried to use the touch pad as a mouse. That was infuriating.

    I've tried the DS4 and I think it's a huge improvement over the DS3, but I still prefer the asymmetry of the Xbox controller thumbsticks even though the Xbone controllers feel a bit cheap compared to the heft of the 360 controller.

    Also I picked up the Titanfall headset and it works just fine plugging into my Xbone controller - no need to hook it up to the composite inputs for my TV like I did with my old Turtle Beach headset on the 360, so I'm not sure what you're referring to Mark, do you mean the DS4 supports regular headset jacks? That's nifty that it doesn't force a propritary connector on you, but it doesn't fuss me too much.

    I adore the 360 pad- best one ever in my books. So I'm super disappointed that the xbone controller isn't as good, it just doesn't feel as nice in my hands, and I don't like the triggers as much. The "vibrating trigger" thing just felt a bit dumb in Forza. Meanwhile, the PS4 controller is night and day better than the PS3 one. Drop the stupid light bar and make the triggers better (ie like the 360s) and it'd be perfect to me.

      At least it has triggers now, you don't have to buy special clip on ones just to stop your finger slipping off...

    Only held the XBone controller a few times and it feels comfortable and like it would be good to use it just feels so cheap and shoddily put together. Twist your hands around it and you can feel the plastic flexing and splitting at the seams and the plastic itself is kind of gross to touch.

    WII U GAMEPAD! It's so flexible that ATM it is soothing my baby daughter in her pram with classical music.

    Own an XB1, a Wii U and I have a friend with a PS4.
    On the whole, none of them are terrible but a few things keep the XB1 and PS4 from edging out the Wii U pro controller.
    The D-Pad on the x1 click sound grates on my ears and the sticks are a touch too long and the bumpers... I shouldn't have to commit to pressing them that hard to get a response.
    The D-Pad on the ps4 just feels off somehow and the "start" button is in too new a place for me to use it comfortably. The triggers are...I don't know... I feel that after extended use it would be easy to see myself slipping off them on games that require me to use them a lot.

    The gamepad feels strange at first but mainly due to its shape. It is still quite comfortable after many hours of use and I especially like that you can rest your hand on top of it to play platformers and fighters. Battery life leaves something to be desired however.

    Wii U pro controller master race. Placement of sticks seems odd at first but I must admit I like having the dpad and buttons on the same level for platformers and fighters, feels less strange than contorting my hand. Bumpers and nice and responsive, triggers feel good and overall build quality whilst still being very light to hold for long periods of time is great. My one nag about the controller is the brightness of the blue LED in a dark room

    The aesthetics of the DS4 controller imo are great. The sticks feel more responsive than the DS3, however there are two things that annoy me about the DS4 controller.

    1. Battery Life
    2. There are known faults with the trigger buttons.

    I find myself constantly have to charge this controller more than my DS3 controller. Ok, it's a given there is a built in speaker on the controller (which is muted), the controller is used as a pass through for third party headsets which I assume has something to do with amplifying the party chat sound to your headset causing more drain but seriously this needs to be improved on. I don't have a PS eye so the ultra bright neon light is useless to me (sure it looks cool) but give us an option to turn off the light!
    As for the triggers, I have friends that are up to their 4th DS4 controller due to the trigger buttons sticking caused by a faulty tension pin inside the controller. My DS4 controller's R2 trigger broke within less than 6 months - I took the liberty to open up my controller and fix it myself as I cannot stand temporary solutions and now its working better than ever! :)
    Not sure if XBone players are experiencing these kind of faults & issues but it'd be interesting to hear :)

    Last edited 09/04/14 1:27 pm

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