Since the original PlayStation, the DualShock controller (or, at least its previous incarnations and names) has been the iconic standard bearer for generations of consoles and gamers. Its shape, form and function legendary, perfect for almost any type of game.
It has, of course, evolved. Analog sticks punctuated the sleek design during its first run, and since then there’s been analog buttons, reversed triggers and – famously – vibration. But one thing has remained largely constant throughout: its recognisable physical characteristics.
This design is much loved but might a casual-friendly refresh be in order?
It works, because it’s a great design.
When Sony first showed off the PlayStation 3, the hardware designers went off on a couple of crazy tangents with the control, the infamous boomerang shape quickly (and widely) derided by most, and ultimately reversed by SCEI back to the shape we know and love. Minus, of course, vibration, although that was to follow.
With the advent of the PlayStation 4, are we as gamers hoping Sony sticks to their principles, or tweaks and remixes the classic controller?
Familiarity is a warming, comfortable feeling. Imagine picking up a PS4 on launch night and just being able to dive right in, your fingers and thumbs instantly locking into place. That’s a positive – we like that sensation and it means we can just focus on the games.
But there’s a certain appeal of the new, the unfamiliar. Most other consoles change their input devices, Nintendo perhaps most famously. Is there merit in opening the same PS4 box and finding something new, something exciting to fit between your palms?
Yes, and it’s likely this’ll be the case.
Nobody wants this, of course, but some new innovations might be good.
And something we’ve looked at in the past – a touch screen – has today reared its rumour shaped head. We’ve mentioned that we’d like something in the centre of the Dual Shock 4, a small touch pad that’ll let you swing a bat, throw a shuriken or aim a football at a goal. Again, it won’t change the shape, but it does present some interesting gameplay possibilities.
A literal touch screen though? One with actual visuals on it? That seems too much of a stretch. What’s more likely is complete Move integration, somehow – Sony aren’t likely to want to throw away years of technical experimentation and research, and they’re unlikely to throw in a traditional Move wand, too.
Our guesses are simply that – but it’s our hopes that Sony don’t go too far down the route of the unfamiliar but bundle in enough tweaks that mean there’s something new to play with. A Vita-esque touch pad ticks that box, but we’d also like to see Move incorporated too, the mechanics that could open up are limitless.
But this has to be a controller for the masses, too, and that’s the balancing act Sony need to get right. We’ll know soon enough, but in the meantime, what would you like to see them do with the beloved DualShock you know and love?