Xbox Live's Major Nelson was roaming PAX here in Seattle, probably needing something fun to do. So I asked him to let me try the new Xbox 360 controller with transforming D-pad — oh, and the analog sticks are different.
Major Nelson even agreed to shoot this video, and while I put him to work he revealed that this is his own personal controller. The new d-pad is easy to transform and the alternate, raised-cross mode feels like it will be good for games that require precise horizontal, vertical and diagonal inputs — you know, like fighting games.
We knew about the transforming d-pad, but did you know the analog sticks have changed? They tilt the same, but the shape of the depression on top of them has been tweaked. The old raised bits are gone and the center has a deeper depression. I'm not sure what the consequences will be of the small change, but the new stick did feel comfortable under my thumb.
Here's a comparison of the new controller and an older black one, set up so you can compare the right analog stick of the new one to the left of the old one.
The new controller, which will be sold for $65 with a recharge kit, will be out later this year.
UPDATE: Uploading this video from the show floor I didn't realize that Major Nelson was cut off at the end of the video. The video ends with him in mid-sentence saying the new controller is "kind of a limited edition... We're not making..." Readers have rightly asked what he said next. He said that the tweaks on this controller are not being applied to the standard Xbox controllers. He didn't say they never would be, but the impression I got is that, for the fall at least, you'll need to buy this silver controller in order to get the new d-pad and stick design. You won't be able to buy a spare standard controller and experience the new design tweaks on them, because the design of the standard controllers will not be changing soon.