As Microsoft revealed their next-gen Xbox Series X – the new name and design for Project Scarlett – they also took a little time to show off the next Xbox controller. It looks a lot like their current one, but there’s a few big changes.
Interestingly, Microsoft have stated that the new controller will be backward compatible to the current Xbox One and Windows 10, while having previously confirmed that existing peripherals will be forward compatible with Xbox Series X.
First up, it features a new dedicated Share button to make capturing screenshots and video clips as easy as it is on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Sat right in the centre of the controller, the button has a tray and arrow design that will be familiar for PC users as the Upload icon from Windows 10.
Though Microsoft added the ability to capture and share to the Xbox One shortly after release, the controller never had a dedicated button for the job. Instead, the intention was that you would capture using voice commands and Kinect, but as the maligned camera was put out to pasture as Microsoft refocussed, Xbox gamers have had to tap the Xbox button to bring up the quick system menu, and then press a second button to capture. It’s nowhere near as seamless as elsewhere, and so having a dedicated button is a small, but solid addition.
When actually in-game, you’ll be much more likely to tap on the new hybrid D-pad, though. This has been redesigned, building off the form of the D-pad on the Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller. It’s clearly circular in shape, but has five flattened squares on it to create a D-pad shape that looks like it will be great for clear eight-directional movement. Here’s hoping it’s a good one for fighting games.
The controller will continue to rely on Microsoft’s proprietary 2.4Ghz wireless connectivity, though with Bluetooth for wider support on PC and mobile, and it’s through this that they’re able to create Dynamic Input Latency, which allows developers to tie button presses into the rendering of a game and reduce latency.
Beyond that, the overall shape and size have apparently been refined, making it ever-so-slightly smaller, but a few question marks linger: What port does it use for charging? Does it have a built in battery or still use AA batteries?
The recently released Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller may show the direction that Microsoft have gone here, featuring USB-C for data and power, and a built in rechargeable battery. It would be a shock if the new Xbox Wireless Controller used anything other than USB-C, but whether it will have a battery built in is still up in the air.
Still, this new controller looks like a solid revision of what is already, in my opinion, the best controller of this current generation.