The DualShock 4, along with the PS4′s camera array, is the only hardware so far publicly seen. Sony elected to keep the actual console a closely guarded shape back at its February reveal, leaving only the innovative new controller the talking point.
This, of course, was a wise decision. There’s a lot going on with the DualShock 4 that didn’t want to get lost alongside the main unit – touchpad, front light, that new Share button: it was all a calculated marketing move.
However, it’s now May, and no outlet, save for a few vocal developers, has been allowed to see it first hand, let alone talk about it. TheSixthAxis is looking forward to going hands on next month, but until then we’re reliant on GameInformer (via), with their PS4 special this month, for some details.
First up, we’re reminded that the version we’ve seen is very much still a prototype. There’s a temptation to say that’s just PR speak but it’s likely that some elements are still subject to change. Notably, the d-pad and the controller’s overall weight.
However, what’s likely to stay are those two new analog sticks. That central divot is crucial – it means your thumbs stay seated easier – but we’re also to believe that the deadzone (the amount you need to move a stick to get the game to register) is greatly reduced.
They’re stiffer, too, with much stronger resistance. Whether that’s a byproduct of the prototypes being new or not is hard to say, but tougher to move sticks would be appreciated.
The two sticks are aligned symmetrically again – unlike those on Xbox consoles – because of the new touchpad, which sits square in the centre-top area of the controller. If they weren’t symmetrical, it wouldn’t be possible to reach the touchpad without knocking into the left stick, we’re told.
They are, however, further apart, meaning that ‘bumping thumbs’ – not something we’ve ever really noticed – is a thing of the past.
We also have confirmation that the touchpad is multi-touch, and does indeed replace the start and select buttons: presumably pushing the touchpad in pauses your game, unless it’s used in a game-specific way. Two new buttons – Options and Share – demonstrate Sony’s new approach, and they’re as prominent as anything else on the surface.
The triggers have been tweaked, too – a small ridge at the end of each locks into your fingers so they don’t slide off, something that has been a complaint of the DualShock 3 since launch.
The rest of the report lists bullet-points we already know: that the front light is used to identify players and shift split-screens around on the fly; that there’s a speaker on the face of the controller and that various developers had a hand in designing the layout and functionality – including, curiously, Bungie.
Hopes are high that the actual console is as strong received as the DualShock 4, which had had nothing but positive (if not all too limited) media and developer coverage since February. It’s feature packed and yet still svelte and well proportioned, and hopefully won’t change too much before the system releases later this year.
We’ll be back, presumably, with full hands-on impressions from E3 next month.