I recently wrote about five ways that the DualSense was better than the Xbox Series X controller. But what about Microsoft's accessory? The Xbox Series X controller is nothing to sneeze at, and while it falls behind the DualSense in a few areas, it's also better than the DualSense in a few others.
Here are five aspects of the Xbox Series X controller that I think beat what the PS5 DualSense has to offer. It's clear that Sony could take some hints from Microsoft's design philosophy.
Asymmetrical thumbstick layout
This is a point of contention, but even a lot of PlayStation fans think that the asymmetrical (offset) thumbstick layout on the Xbox controller is superior to the symmetrical (inline) layout that Sony uses. There's just something about this design that feels much more natural when you're using a controller. No matter what game you're playing, you'll almost always universally be using the two thumbsticks the most, more than any other button. Prioritizing comfort and quality of the thumbsticks is paramount.
The 8-directional D-pad on the Xbox 360 controller was trash, so I understand why some people may be skeptical about its return on the Xbox Series X controller. Microsoft seems to have gotten the design right this time around, though. The Xbox Series X uses a dish style D-pad that was inspired by the Xbox One Elite controller. It gives you much more control over which direction you're pressing, and leaves less room for errors.
The new D-pad is about boosting performance and accessibility for all the ways people play. When looking at the wide range of game genres and personal playstyles today, the D-pad is used in a lot of different ways. That's why our Elite controllers have swappable D-pads. For some games, having crisp cardinal directions (up, down, left, right) with well-defined edges is what gamers need, and the cross is great for that. Some gamers need to hit accurate diagonals or perform sweep actions, which is where the facetted dish is designed to excel. And, of course, based on personal playstyles, some people just prefer one over the other.
It's true that sometimes you need to hit precise diagonals, and you can't do that with a regular 4-directional D-pad like on the DualSense.
Trigger design and ergonomics
Xbox controllers have always had good ergonomics, and the Series X controller is no different in that regard, keeping a design that was already near-perfect.
The triggers on the Xbox Series X controller are designed in such a way that they taper off at a slight angle instead of cutting off abruptly at the edge. The first joint on your pointer finger doesn't rest at a 90-degree angle when it's on the trigger, and this makes them feel better to use as they mimic the natural resting position of your finger. Microsoft designing the Xbox Series X controller's triggers in such a way gives players more control over their actions with a larger surface area to use, even if their finger manages to slip a little bit off the mark.
Texture and finishes
Judging from what photos we have of the Xbox Series X controller and the PS5 DualSense, it looks like Microsoft is shipping its controller with textures that look to provide more grip than the competition.
We added a tactile dot pattern on the triggers and bumpers, which provides grip to improve feel and performance during gameplay. That's something we've had on special edition controllers and fans love it. Now it's the new standard. A similar, yet more subtle pattern is on the grips. The D-pad, bumpers, and triggers now have a matte finish to maintain a smooth consistent feel, whether your hands are wet or dry.
That's not to say the DualSense doesn't have its own textured bumpers and triggers, but they're definitely different than those on the Xbox Series X controller, and appear to offer less grip.
Compatible with Xbox One
Sony hasn't specified whether the DualSense will be compatible with PlayStation 4, but at this point I think it's fair to assume it's not since it wasn't announced in the initial controller reveal. Microsoft's Xbox Series X controller, however, is compatible with Xbox One. It might seem like a minor thing, but only needing one controller between two generations of consoles is incredibly convenient, and the company ensured that syncing the controller to both console's will be a breeze.
This is just another example of Microsoft putting the customer first.
Waiting for hands-on time
Without being able to use either controller at this point, it's hard to say for certain which is better, and I know that's subjective anyway. Still, Microsoft has always been the leader when it comes to controller ergonomics, and it looks to retain this title going forward, though the DualSense might give it a run for its money.
Regardless of which console you choose, you're sure to be getting a good controller with it.