E3 13; Hands-on with the PS4’s DUALSHOCK 4
The PlayStation DUALSHOCK design has remained pretty much unchanged since the original PS1, but the PS4 introduces the newly improved DS4 that adds a touchscreen pad to the face of the controller and a light bar to its top in addition to usual six-axis sensors and rumble feature.
When the PS4 was revealed during February’s Future of PlayStation event, the DUALSHOCK 4 was actually the only thing physically present on stage. It was the first thing we would come to associate with the PS4 and would blend the touchscreen aspects of the Vita along with the precise control of the DUALSHOCK 3. It was different from the design we’ve become accustomed to, and yet familiar enough.
I was able to wrap my hands around the DUALSHOCK 4 and test the controller out with Zombie Studios’ upcoming free-to-play FPS Blacklight: Retribution. The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the controller is that its grips fit smoothly in your hands. It feels a lot less jagged than previous iterations of the DUALSHOCK and is comfortable to hold.
The all-too-familiar button layout remains the same, but the biggest change comes to the buttons themselves. The two analog sticks are concave allowing for tighter control over your game and won’t slip so easily off your thumbs. The other change comes with redesigned L2 and R2 triggers that have been slightly curved. It’s something that works perfectly with shooters or any other game that requires frequent mashing of the triggers.
The light bar on the top of the controller doesn’t have too many uses as of yet so it may seem almost pointless. There’s no need to ever look down at it so I imagine its use will come from any motion games that may take advantage of the six-axis sensors. The touchpad is another feature that I haven’t needed to use, but unlike the light bar, I can see it being utilized by games, not unlike the Vita. It can also be pushed in, with a soft click letting you know you’ve pressed down hard enough.
Don’t let the design of the DUALSHOCK 4 fool you. It may look different, but once it’s in your hands it plays just as you would expect. I personally thought the DS3 was something that was perfect and didn’t need any improving. Holding the DUALSHOCK 4 in my hands makes me think twice about that.
The DUALSHOCK 4 will retail for $59 alongside the PS4 and only come in “Jet Black” at launch. You can read up on the full design specs from Sony’s press release.