We’ve long suspected that a new 360 controller was in the works, and Microsoft has even mentioned its development in the past at one point. But now it is official, and today the company revealed just what they had been working on.
Those expecting some kind of motion enhanced control additions, or perhaps something more along the lines of a dual twisting Sidewinder style joypad may be disappointed. However anyone looking to gain a much better d-pad for use with the likes of Street Fighter, Tekken, or just about any other games that uses it will be very pleased indeed.
Unlike previous controllers, this new one not only features a brand new d-pad that is apparently suited for fighting games, but also one that is switchable between two different modes. With just a quick 90 degree turn of the d-pad, the base surrounding the + on the controller immediately raises up slightly (by around a few millimetres) to allow for greater precision and more direct movements to be made over the current d-pad on the standard 360 controller. Whilst turning it again makes it submerge back into place.
This adjustable functionality means that gamers should have the best of both worlds – a d-pad that when lowered, will allow for all the smooth rolling motions required for both 2D and 3D beat’em ups, and when raised, used for simpler tasks requiring more straight up actions.
The controller also comes complete with a brand new colour scheme that eschews the traditionally bright, multi-coloured face buttons for differing shades of grey, along with a matt silver finish for most of the casing, whilst the underside of the pad features a shiny black finish like the one found on the controllers that come with the Xbox 360 S.
You may also notice that the rubber groves around the edges of both analogue sticks have been changed. The slightly raised edges are now more pronounced, and the centre of each stick has a noticeable concave indentation for extra grip.
Despite the somewhat radical change in appearance and d-pad functionality Microsoft currently have no plans to make this the standard Xbox 360 controller, or to provide matching console hardware, instead positioning it as a premium item; something for the professionals to use. So anyone expecting similar functionality to arrive on the joypad found boxed up with either the 4GB or 250GB consoles will be sorely disappointed.
The new Xbox 360 controller will only be available as part of a ‘controller plus Play & Charge kit’ bundle – not as a standalone product, and is expected to be released on November 9th in the US for $64.99, with a UK release to follow early next year – February has been sighted.