Xbox Series X controller: Gently tweaked, not groundbreaking

The Xbox Series X controller is mostly the same as the Xbox One gamepad. But Microsoft did make some small tweaks to improve gaming.

The Xbox Series X and S finally launch on November 10. We've unboxed the Series X, booted it up, and played a few games and can confirm it's a beast of a game console that runs virtually silent. But let's talk about the controller.

At first glance, it doesn't even look like Microsoft changed anything. It looks and feels very similar to the Xbox One controller.

Take a closer look and you'll see there are several changes.

In the center of the controller, there's a dedicated Share button. The PS4's DualShock 4 and Nintendo Switch Joy-Con have long had a Share button for taking screenshots and capturing video. Now, the Xbox has one on the controller, too.

Upgraded D-pad

The D-pad is a mix between the Xbox Elite Controller and Xbox One Controller's directional pad.

This D-pad is so much better for fighting games where you have to press on the diagonal often.

L1 and R2 shoulder buttons have been sculpted for a more ergonomic feel. The L2 and R2 triggers also have a "tactile dot" pattern that makes them just a teensy bit more grippy and less slippery.

Notice how the shoulder and trigger buttons on the Xbox Series X controller are matte and not glossy like on the Xbox One gamepad.

The rest of the Xbox Series X controller is virtually the same. For example, it uses two AA batteries. It's 2020, how is Microsoft still using AA batteries? Everyone's switched to rechargeable lithium-ion.

The two analog sticks also remain unchanged. They've got a nice grippy texture to them and the resistance and clickiness is on point.

Yep, still perfectly scooped for thumbs.

Xbox Series X controller review

The ABXY buttons also feel the same.

Xbox Series X controller review

A change that's invisible to the naked eye: lower latency. Microsoft's strengthened the Bluetooth connectivity so that button press maps to on-screen action more accurately.

Also: Xbox Series X controllers work with Xbox One consoles, PC, and mobile devices.

The Xbox One Series X controller is a solid gamepad. You know what they say... if ain't broke don't fix it. Microsoft doesn't try to reinvent the wheel here. The result is fine — Microsoft has been fine-tuning the Xbox controller for years with small adjustments. But it doesn't feel groundbreaking the way the PS5's DualSense controller has a brand new look and unique features like more pressure-sensitive haptic feedback.

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