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The PS4's DualShock 4 Detailed

Analog sticks, touchpad, triggers and why it's all still subject to change.

dualshock 4 ps4 controller

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.

dualshock 4 ps4 controller

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.

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  1. Dr_mohannad
    Since: Jul 2009

    I just hoped that the touch pad would have been a screen, that would have been ridiculously awesome.
    one thing I have to confirm though, will the light on the back of the controller serve as a move controller?

    Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 08:49.
    • hazelam
      Since: Feb 2009

      a screen on the pad would have been great, but probably pretty pricey too.

      Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 08:54.
      • Dr_mohannad
        Since: Jul 2009

        I’m surprised they didn’t jump on the chance to kill the competition (wii U) with adding a screen, especially when we saw how eager they were to put out Move controllers on the market, I can only think that they decided not add a screen to promote the sales of the PS Vita.

        Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 08:57.
      • 3shirts
        Since: Aug 2008

        I’m glad they didn’t. The Wii U controller is an expensive gimmick that uses immense amounts of power. I am glad Sony are kind of ignoring the competition and just buildign the best controller for their console. I almost never look at the DS3 and that is how I want it to be. A controller should be so intuitive that you never need to think about it. I don’t press R2, I press fire or accelerate. I don’t press X, I open the door. That’s how I want it to feel

        Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 09:27.
    • Alex C
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      The original thinking was that yes – it would. Sony have since said it doesn’t, though.

      Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 08:58.
      • Dr_mohannad
        Since: Jul 2009

        a missed opportunity , a move controller would add a lot of functionality if it were on the dual shock, especially with the enhanced PS4 dual camera.

        Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 10:53.
    • KeRaSh
      Since: Nov 2009

      I would have liked that too, but I’m pretty sure they voted against it to push the relevance of the Vita a little more.
      That way the can also keep the price lower, which is really important.

      Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 10:37.
  2. cc_star
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Forever

    Interesting to see how the touchpad offers some sort of game-specific functionality & Start/Select function. Surely they have to be a system wide constant

    Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 09:08.
  3. E8_BALL_
    Since: Jul 2010

    Slightly concerned that when wearing headphones, these intimate sounds they speak of, wont be filtered through & will still come through the controller regardless(even if muted,) which would also defeat my intention of not disturbing my housemates(if not muted.)

    Which leads me to the built in mic, will incoming chat come through the controller?
    Will there be a main mute option for incoming &or outgoing, as many game devs fail to impliment correctly(treyarch,) if at all & if there is, will that be filtered to headphones?

    I really hope all this talk of connectivity isn’t going to be imposed onto you.
    It would be great if you can decide what & where icons/apps are displayed on the PS4s main & any other screens. I only hope other aspects don’t suffer, in their drive for social networking, I want a gaming console first & foremost. The recent Watch Dogs dev trailer seemed to be focused on extra connectivity alone, I was expecting them to say how superior it is visually, with extra(non social) gameplay mechanics.
    Can you tell I don’t care for Facebook etc lol.

    Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 09:24.
  4. whoelse
    Since: Forever

    The biggest news is that “L1”, “L2” etc are now upside down! (So that you can read it if you’re the one holding the controller I’m guessing)

    Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 10:48.
  5. blackredyellow
    Since: Mar 2009

    I hope it feels as natural as the DS3. My hands know where the buttons are and that’s how it needs to be.

    Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 10:50.
    • E8_BALL_
      Since: Jul 2010

      My hands have deloped a kind of arch, from using it hrough console generations:) But your right, it’s very intuitive to use, i’m sure our muscle memory will adapt. Not sure about my newly shaped hands lol.

      Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 11:42.
      • blackredyellow
        Since: Mar 2009

        An arch, oh dear!

        Might I recommend 10 minutes in the trouser press before bed every night?

        Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 13:33.
  6. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    The pad is simply evolving. I really like it :-)

    Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 11:05.
  7. Germanos
    Since: May 2011

    Really like the features it brings, but…it’s kind of ugly :( love the fact that when playing split-screen and changing places in front of the TV, the console will follow who is who and where he should be located. Nice.

    Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 11:29.
    • Jakster123x
      Since: Aug 2011

      It is a little bit ugly. I mean, that picture at the top makes it look really cool with that stylish light bar, but when you look at it head on, it still looks strange to me.

      That doesn’t really matter though. As long as i can reach all the buttons nice and easily, and the sticks don’t suddenly get really sticky (Dammit, Sixaxis) i’m happy.

      Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 17:26.
  8. KittDJW
    Since: Forever

    I really like the look of the new dualshock controller and am really glad Sony opted to stay with the classic symmetrical design for the analogue stixks. I’ve tried playing Minecraft with the kids on the xbox a few times but the layout has always felt wrong to me.. Maybe I’m getting old :-)

    Just really excited for the next reveal and very intrigued to what the PS4 will actually look like.

    Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 11:32.
    • KittDJW
      Since: Forever

      arrgh small keypad.. “bad predictive text” meant sticks :-)

      Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 11:34.
  9. Paranoimia
    Since: Aug 2008

    “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.”

    I’m pretty sure the alignment of the sticks has nothing to do with the touchpad, and everything to do with it being the naturally correct place to have them.

    Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 11:44.
  10. Broonba
    Since: Mar 2009

    Loving the look of the new dualshock & hope they don’t change it too much before it’s released.

    Comment posted on 09/05/2013 at 12:42.

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