Xbox One Controller Hands-On: Rumbling Triggers Are Freaking Awesome

By Kyle Wagner on at

You probably heard Microsoft mention that the new Xbox One controllers have 40 new features to make them easier to use. That's true! But a few really make the cake. And the rumbling triggers are going to be the biggest.

After holding one for a few minutes, I can say official Xbox One controller is very nice. It's just more comfortable. This comes from a variety of alterations, like moving the batteries into the controller itself to make the back one solid piece, but the biggest is moving the centre of gravity closer to your body, giving you less to prop up on the far end. Think of holding out a cricket bat with a 10kg weight on the very end, or right up on your hands. It just makes sense.

The improved D-Pad is far, far easier to use than the current version's, the analogue sticks have an easier to handle give to them, and the centre Xbox button has moved farther up the controller, which feels a little more natural (though it'll be more of a pain to use if you use it often like me). Overall, it's supposed to fit in more hand sizes more comfortably.

But that rumbling. It really does seem like it could add a better, more immersive experience. Microsoft set up a few stations for us to try out the new controllers, with six demos of how the effect can be used in actual gaming scenarios, or at least gimmicky ones. Here's a quick and dirty rundown of each. The green highlights in each video, which were shown on screen, are below.

Here you see a wheel coming to a slow stop, and you feel that through the controller. But as it slows down, the tick tick tick of the spokes is felt in short bursts in the left trigger, which line up what what's on the screen. Pretty cool.

Here's a standard gun being fired, and each time it unleashes a round, the right trigger and only the right trigger fires a rumble. It feels very, very cool when you're just holding the controller, but a little less so when you're actually pulling the trigger (it was automated in the demo) as the gun fires, because you get less sensation from pressing down.

Here's a helicopter flying in and out of the frame, and the rotors rumble back and forth, in asymmetrical unison to simulate the blades. There was some additional movement in the demo where it was falling and came back up, tilting to the right, resulting one finger fired up much higher as it banked to save itself. It feels infinitely more like a helicopter than regular old rumbling, at least to my brain.

This demo is deceptively cool. As the fire rumbles up in your hands, you get a medium burst, but as you throw it, the rumbles change slightly, and shift more toward your finger tips. You actually feel the momentum.

The last demo was of a heart monitor, but the video was ruined because I'm sort of dumb, so here's a pic of the station. The demo itself was what you'd expect, with the pulses of the controller following the heart beat across the screen, across your fingers.