With the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, Microsoft is launching a new controller. It aims to be a universal controller, compatible well beyond the Xbox consoles. Is the Microsoft controller still a must?
With the Xbox 360, Microsoft has created a benchmark controller that is loved by many gamers around the world, both on Xbox and on PC. The design has evolved with the Xbox One, and we can especially note the integration of Bluetooth with the Xbox One S which today allows the Xbox controller to be a must. The firm is now taking this heritage back to create the new “Xbox Wireless Controller”. This is the official controller that accompanies the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, and we were able to test the new features.
Xbox controller datasheet
- Connection: Bluetooth (LE), Xbox Wireless, wired
- Ports: USB Type-C, 3.5mm jack, and proprietary accessory port
- Coloris : Carbon Black, Robot White, Shock Blue
- Battery: optional
- Weight: 241 grams (272 grams with the official battery)
- Compatibility: Xbox Series S and X, Xbox One, Windows 10, Android, iOS
- Price: 59,99 euros
A design that changes little
The new controller takes more or less the same general design as the Xbox One controller. According to the Microsoft teams, the goal was to keep a form that the players know, and not change the reflexes they have acquired on the previous generation. The controller is actually very slightly more compact, so that it can be used by smaller hands. Also according to the company, the controller can now be used from the 3rd to the 95th percentile, where the Xbox One controller was reserved from the 5th to the 95th percentile. Children in particular will appreciate the effort. Confinement obliges, I could not test this theory with my nephews and nieces.
Fortunately, this is not the only change. For the rest, Microsoft was obviously inspired by its excellent Elite Series 2 controller to improve a few points. Regarding the novelties, we love the new grip added where the palms of our hands rest, to improve grip, but also on the triggers and LB / RB buttons. This effect is also found at the level of the two sticks, always asymmetrical. This significantly improves the grip of the controller and immediately gives it a “premium” effect. It’s a real move upmarket on this point.
The Xbox controller also adds a new button in the middle of the front: the ” share», Or share in French. On Xbox consoles, it allows you to quickly take a screenshot in a game or save the last moments of a game on video. If the implementation of sharing on the new Xboxes may leave something to be desired, the button is very practical and a more than welcome addition.
Last major novelty of this controller, a design change for the ” D-pad », The directional cross in French. Here again directly inspired by the Elite controller, this D-pad is now circular with relief for the four main directions. I think this change is likely to be dividing, but I find it very compelling on a personal level. This comes in particular from the increased resistance of the button, which is therefore less soft to the click than the old directional pad of the Xbox One controller. On the other hand, it is possible to move the directional cross slightly and toggle a button slightly, without this being detected by the joystick. This gives the impression of a part that is too mobile, less well integrated.
Vibrating triggers, but no other differentiating technologies
For the rest, the controller has therefore not changed. We find in particular some specificities of the Xbox One controller such as additional vibration motors at the trigger level, particularly pleasant in racing games and FPS which manage the function. This also means that it is not entitled to other technologies that we find today in competitors: no “3D” vibrations, adaptive triggers, integrated microphone or even gyroscope. On this point, the Xbox controller remains very traditional.
On the front, buttons A, B, X and Y are always colored. Microsoft explains that this helps people with dyslexia quickly identify the right pimples.
The universal controller
If the Xbox controller does not integrate a whole lot of new technologies, it is perhaps because its vocation is elsewhere. As its now simplified name “Xbox Wireless Controller” suggests, it is incorrect to say that it is “Xbox Series X Controller”. And for good reason, like Microsoft’s video game ecosystem, the Xbox controller is now compatible with a large number of devices. Technologies that are too different, such as a gyroscope or adaptive triggers, would not necessarily have been recognized on all these devices and Microsoft therefore probably favored universal compatibility, rather than adding functions.
The controller is first of all compatible with the Xbox Series S and Series X consoles, but also with the Xbox One generation.
Then there are the PCs with Windows 10 first. On this system, the controller is now recognized as an Xbox One controller, and it is therefore not possible to use the button. share , which is not even identified as a button by the controller pilot. Like the Xbox One controller, it is fully recognized by Steam and most of the games available on Windows 10. The most modern games allow you to switch on the fly from the controller to the keyboard and mouse combo, particularly useful for games that offer severalgameplay(car driving, first person shooters, etc.).
Still on Windows 10, it is possible to connect the controller via Bluetooth and a small quick pairing window appears as soon as the controller is turned on in synchronization mode (with the small dedicated button on the back of the controller). Rather practical to avoid going to search in the system parameters. Windows 10 is also able to display the battery level of the controller, although it will be necessary to look in the Bluetooth settings to obtain this information.
We also tested the connection on other devices.
Sure Android, the controller is immediately recognized on smartphones, tablets and even Android TVs. We tested the connection on a Google Pixel 5, a Chromecast dongle with Google TV and on the Nvidia Shield.
Sure iOS 14, again no problem to connect the controller. It is even fully managed by the system very officially by Apple, which allows in particular to display the battery level in the dedicated widget.
With a controller clip, it is possible to comfortably play compatible games on Android and iOS. Of course, the controller allows you to enjoy Xbox games from a distance, or bycloud gamingwith Xbox Game Pass. Note that other services like Google Stadia also handle Microsoft’s controller very well.
The only problem we have encountered is with Steam Link, not the app, but the device which is no longer sold by Valve. The Microsoft controller is well recognized, but the Steam Link mysteriously crashes when connecting in our tests. We haven’t had the chance to test the controller on Mac, but it should be compatible in principle.
Battery or battery
The Xbox controller is supplied with just two disposable AA LR06 batteries from Duracell. Microsoft justifies this choice by explaining that it gives players more choice. Some fans of the brand appreciate being able to use rechargeable batteries rather than a built-in battery. The brand is the only brand to do so among console manufacturers, while Sony and Nintendo have long used built-in and rechargeable batteries.
To continue playing without any cable, you will therefore have to invest in rechargeable batteries (we recommend the Eneloop brand) or an optional battery (sold for 23 euros by Microsoft with a cable). Fortunately, if you already have Xbox One controller batteries, it is quite possible to use them on these new controllers. It will suffice to find USB-C cables to take care of the charging.
Because yes, one of the last big novelties of this controller is the transition to a USB-C port, much more practical to use and obviously better suited to the transition of all mobile devices to this new format. As there are a multitude of solutions to make this controller wireless, and in particular batteries sold by other manufacturers, it is difficult to assess the autonomy.
Note that the Xbox controller is a controller that consumes relatively little power. With Microsoft’s battery, I can easily last for several tens of hours before needing a recharge. Obviously, it also depends on the games you play, and in particular the frequency of vibration of the controller.
Several price options offered
Xbox Wireless Controller is released at the recommended price of 59.99 euros from November 10, 2020 in three colors: black, white or blue. There is no doubt that Microsoft will soon offer other variations of this controller, with additional colors and collector versions for the release of certain games. Note that for PC gamers, Microsoft also offers a special version without batteries, but with a 2.7 meter USB-C to USB-A cable. for 59.99 euros.