PS4 controller - what's new, what's different, what's the same?
- Posted February 24th, 2013 at 23:06 EDT by Kyle Prahl
- 15 Comments
Sony's PlayStation Meeting and PlayStation 4 reveal was the most exciting event in recent gaming history, and not just for our first glimpse at Sony's next-generation software. Burning questions we had about the controller--now officially dubbed DualShock 4--were almost entirely answered as Sony announced the redesign, showed off new features, and released high-resolution photos.
We've had a few days to sit back and digest, and we're prepared to take a closer look at the PS4 controller. What at first seems like a marked departure becomes a natural evolution of DualShock design at second glance. Let's dig in:
The shape and feeling
Arguably the biggest topic in controller design is actually the field where Sony's DualShock 4 shakes things up the least. One glance at the comparison shot above tells me that Sony felt little need to change what works. I'm happy with that decision. If anything, DualShock 4 looks a smidge larger than PS3's pad, no doubt owing to the addition of a touchpad in the center. Furthermore, the hand grips on the DualShock 4 are more rounded than those of the DualShock 3. Chalk it up to ergonomics, or change for change's sake. Regardless, it looks extremely comfortable, and not only for the textured, rubber gripping material that also makes its debut.
The analog sticks
The positions of the left and right analog sticks haven't changed (which Sony fans will appreciate), but one obvious alteration stands out. The DualShock 4's analog sticks are, like the Xbox 360's sticks, concave (curved inward, not outward). However, unlike the Xbox 360's sticks, the DualShock 4's are not bowl-shaped. Instead, a small descent from the outer rim of each stick quickly hits a convex plateau not unlike the stick surfaces of the DualShock 3. Here's what that looks like up-close:
The implications of this update for longtime PlayStation gamers are twofold. Concave analog sticks are, in general, easier to keep your thumbs planted on and harder to lose control of. With the DualShock 3 (and with previous models), I can profess to an ever-so-slight sliding of my thumbs to one edge of the stick surface over time. With DualShock 4, this simply won't be the case. However, concave sticks are a double-edged sword. Because your thumbs can feel the "break" where the upper stick rim descends toward the center, you're not getting a smooth, uninterrupted surface like with convex sticks. It's hard to say how this will feel in practice; as described above, the DualShock 4's sticks are a hybrid between familiar curvature and foreign concavity. Still, I'm pleased that Sony is looking at subtle ways of improving what works without aping the competition.
The D-pad's size and relative location haven't changed, but any frequent PS Vita player can tell you that Sony most definitely drew inspiration from its powerful handheld for this component of the PS4 controller. Like the PS Vita's directional buttons, the DualShock 4's are somewhat bowl-shaped. This should help keep your thumb centered while moving between 8 directions. Unlike the PS Vita, the PS4's D-pad is not a singular unit, but I suspect (and hope) that the "clickiness" of PS Vita's D-pad--universally praised by critics--is retained.
The 'Share' and 'Options' buttons
Start and Select, how we will miss thee. These classic Sony buttons may have been vestiges of gaming's yesteryear, but it's hard to imagine how Sony will circumvent their absence all the same. Thankfully, their replacements are multi-functional wunderkinds that should bring a new dimension of gaming to PlayStation. 'Share' will do this through social integration; as Gaikai CEO David Perry detailed during last week's conference, uploading videos of your gameplay to Facebook or starting a live broadcast of your gaming session is only a button click away. Presumably, developers could overwrite the 'Share' button's function as needed - applications to content sharing with games like LittleBigPlanet come to mind.
Meanwhile, 'Options' remains a bit of a mystery. I envision a set of system settings that are only a click away - stuff like whether friends can spectate your game, muting party chat, a screensaver to hide your porn, and the like. More likely still, 'Options' will replace 'Start' as we know it for most ... (continued on next page)
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- 12:38am EST - February 25th, 2013
Personally, I'm very happy with the changes they've made to the controller. I love the ps2/ps3 ds controllers but they aren't perfect. All the changes I see look to be improvements. Can't wait to see how they feel.
- 12:54am EST - February 25th, 2013
Are the analog sticks spread out just tad more on the Dualshock 4? I hope they are. At first glance it seems like it, but I guess maybe they aren't.
- 1:05am EST - February 25th, 2013
I'm so excited. this is awesome
- 1:05am EST - February 25th, 2013
I would suspect the option button to take the place of select actually more than it being a start button as I've never equiated the start button with with the word options. If anything you might still pause the game with it but generally most games ask you to press X to start which kinda makes the start button redundant for any other purpose than pause and even then pause can be a bit redundant. But supposing developers do offer a pause feature it will probably use the touchpad. The touchpad will probably also make screen typing a little easier. Rather than needing to click through a virtual keyboard you could just rub around towhat every letters you need a lot faster.
Also I very much hope the L and R2 buttons continue to feel like the DS3's I never had a problem with slippage in fact the only problem I've ever had is holding on to them TOO tightly.
- 1:25am EST - February 25th, 2013
Alpha2... with almost every game, pressing start gives you options. Makes sense to me to call the button options instead of start.
Gameoholic007 | Demented007
- 4:13am EST - February 25th, 2013
This controller looks tight. Im eager to get it in my hands and see how it feels. I love the changes that Sony made to it, and looking forward to the new features that it has. I also really like the redesigned R2/L2 buttons on it. I had major problems with my fingers slipping off of them on the DS3 during gameplay, and had to buy trigger extentions to correct it. Those little extentions made the difference.
the_jim | clear_as_night
- 5:32am EST - February 25th, 2013
I don't know about anyone else but when i play, I have the controller/ my hands on my lap with the analogue sticks/ face buttons facing up or towards my face... I'm not going to see that light bar when i'm playing and important information like taking damage should be on the screen! What we've heard about the light bar so far sounds a bit pointless.
I'm interested to see it in action, especially the touchpad... I can't think of any application where the touchpad is more useful than the sticks but maybe somebody else can?
- 7:27am EST - February 25th, 2013
I'm happy with the new PS4 looks, the new design but still very much little change that's what I was hoping, expected. that's a good thing IMO.. the new touchpad can be very usefull in some of the games, games from the PS Store that I think would be better play with the touchpad.. PS4 gonna be one awesome of a console I can see from miles.
Hydraulboy | NastyReputation
- 9:46am EST - February 25th, 2013
maybe you just talk to the system and then it starts :D
- 12:03pm EST - February 25th, 2013
i like the design of the new one, lets see how it feels when you actually hold it
- 12:29pm EST - February 25th, 2013
The light bar, I think, will just become a cool new way of identifying controller number (replacing the 4 little red leds on DualShock 3/SIXAXIS), which I think looks sick. The analog sticks themselves seem like the perfect blend of precision of a concave design, and the comfort of convex ones (which I find more comfortable, but definitely less precise). I think select button duties might be relegated to the touchpad, while options might work as the in-game start button, but probably the game starting task will be assigned to the touchpad button (makes more sense than saying "press OPTIONS to continue"). Overall, I really like the new design; it looks like the perfect evolution of the dual shock 3.
PS. PSU you forgot to mention one of the most immediately useful features of the new controller : It has a standard 3.5mm stereo headset jack, no more having to buy special headsets just for voice chat, plus now we can use ANY headphones with the ps4, which for me personally is just awesome!
- 1:11pm EST - February 25th, 2013
Not really any headphones, you still need a mic on there or its going to be one sided. The real advantage of the jack will be in multiplayer when using simul-view, or when it needs to be pretty quiet in the house or appartment
- 1:58pm EST - February 25th, 2013
@misterzadir Yeah you get options with some games when you hit start but more often games put more extensive things under the select button. that's why it makes more sense to me. I seriously doubt a game is going to say "press 'option' to start game", that's like saying "open trunk to start car". It's semantic really, the choice for what button does what will change depending on the developer of course but hopefully it won't end up sounding awkward when the games come out. Also I recall hearing something about the touchpad having a click feature so who knows maybe THAT will be the "start" button for some games.
As for the light bar, some Move games actually have the ball change collor when you get hit. it's pointless for the game itself but it's something the controller does none the less.
As for the headphone jack it's possible the Speaker might also serve as a Mic for people who wish to use it that way. Frankly I dont see the issue with bluetooth headsets, every one of us here probably has a cellphone, Sony's point on PS3 was that you can just use it on your PS3 rather than going out an buying a specific one that's why they took so long to come out with an official headset.
- 5:12pm EST - February 25th, 2013
If I remember correctly the controller has a 4 direction mic system built in as well as the speaker.
- 12:49pm EST - March 3rd, 2013
Definitely growing fonder of the design, though my main problem is how ugly the grips look compared to before. A little polishing up improvement to the overall shape and aesthetics of the thing anf this may well be a perfect controller.
But please stop saying it's taken some ideas from the Xbox controller, as I'm almost certain it hasn't. The change to the analogue sticks and triggers are a natural evolution, as many people, myself included, will have had the occasional problem of slipping. So it was only natural for these changes to happen, I'm almost certain they didn't take inspiration from elsewhere - especially seeing as the design and apparent feel of them looks much superior to that of the compeition.
Yet as I said, they have a lot of polishing up to do, I certainly hope this isn't the final design, and the shape and aesthetics can be refined quite a bit.
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