Xbox Series S ControllerSource: Microsoft

What you need to know

  • With the arrival of next-gen gaming hardware in the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, the Xbox controller is also getting a refresh.
  • The Xbox controller is often a contender for the very best of game controllers, so Microsoft didn't see a need to change much.
  • A new blog post goes over the design process for the new Xbox controller, and some of the important changes they made.
  • This includes tidbits of information, like how the new hybrid D-pad had literally hundreds of iterations and prototypes.

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are just around the corner, and with it is coming the newly refreshed Xbox controller. Rather than redesign the controller that's already widely considered to be the best game controller around, Microsoft chose to refine the existing formula, a strategy that impressed in our recent early hands-on. In a new blog post on Medium, we get to learn more about the design process for the new Xbox controller, which reconfirms things we already knew, but includes some cool insights from the Microsoft Design team.

Xbox Controller DesignXbox Controller DesignSource: Microsoft Design

From the outside, there doesn't appear to be a ton of changes made to the new Xbox controller, but initial impressions can be deceiving. The new Xbox controller has a ton of tiny refinements that rapidly add up, including added texture for grips, triggers, and bumpers, an improved hybrid D-pad design, a slightly more rounded bumpers that make the controller more comofortable and accessible for players with smaller hands. There's also the new Share button that aims to help players quickly and easily capture and share their gameplay.

Apparently, Microsoft went through literally hundreds of iterations for the new hybrid D-pad, testing out different designs, angles, depths, and more, which looks quite cool in the above images.

On the inside, the weight is the same as the previous generation, but it's been shifted to help the controller sit more firmly in your hands, which is immediately noticeable. Buttons and particularly triggers have been adjusted to be more tactile and satisfying. Overall, the changes made by Microsoft seem to be intelligent and purposeful, and make a nearly-perfect game controller even better for the next-gen, without resorting to possibly gimicky features that may or may not pan out.

If you're interested in picking up an extra controller for your new console, or even if you want to use it on your existing Xbox One (yes, it is backwards compatible), find out where to buy the new controllers and accessories.

Evolution

Xbox Wireless Controller Carbon Black

New Xbox Wireless Controller

Refining the best

The Xbox One controller is arguably the best of all time, which is why Microsoft opted to evolve, rather than revolutionize its proven gamepad.

Xbox Series X/S

Main

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