With each new console there are new games and features, but what is sometimes overlooked is possibly the most important part of new gaming hardware: the controller. Sony’s brand new Playstation 4 was released around two weeks ago and along with it, the Dualshock 4 controller. The DS4 may look similar to its predecessor, the Dualshock 3, but once you’ve gotten your hands on it, it’s a completely different story.
One of many players’ biggest complaints about the Dualshock 3 controller was the size and feel of it. They said it was too small and uncomfortable to use for hours of intense gaming. The DS4 is bigger not only in length but also in width; however, it is not clunky. Instead it conforms better to your hands than before. Another addition to make it more comfortable was a quite subtle change: a different texture on the bottom. Unlike the DS3 which had a smooth underbelly, the Dualshock 4 has a hard grip which truly makes long hours of gaming less painful on the hands.
The next big improvement on the PlayStation 4’s controller are the buttons. The D-Pad is still located on the left and the trademark triangle, circle, ‘x’, and square buttons are still on the right; however, they really feel like they are part of the controller now. On the PS3, the buttons popped out and never felt snug into the controller’s body. This time around, all eight of the buttons on top are part of the body and click much more efficiently than on the DS3.
Along with the button changes, the “Select” and “Start” buttons have been replaced with the “Share” and “Options” buttons. The Share button is used to capture and upload pictures, videos, and live gameplay. Sony has teamed up with Twitch along with UStream to allow gamers to live stream their gameplay at no cost whatsoever. The Options button performs many of the same tasks as the Start button, but with a different name. The “PS” button has returned for a second time on the DS4; however, it has been moved down a bit to make room for the touchpad. The PS button functions the same way as it did on the PlayStation 3. In reference to the touchpad, Sony has placed a roughly 2x1 inch touchpad at the top of the controller. It is a new feature that has many gamers and developers excited. ‘Killzone Shadow Fall’ allows players to swipe the touchpad in four different directions to change their OWL drone’s abilities. It has a lot of potential but as of today games such as ‘Call of Duty Ghosts’ and ‘Battlefield 4’ only allow players to click it to show scores.
Sony provided every Playstation 4 with a mono headset which can be used with the Dualshock 4. There is an auxiliary port on the front to allow for the headset, which is an earbud with a mute controller on the cable, to be connected to the controller. The Xbox 360 has had this feature since its inception in 2005 and now Sony has decided to adopt it.
The Dualshock 3 received a lot of criticism for its analog sticks. They are very convex and the grip on the tops of them wear away after playing lots of first-person shooters or racing games. The DS4 adopted a new stick type which allows players’ thumbs to sit comfortably on, or in depending on how you look at it, the sticks.
Finally, the backside of the DS4 controller is where many additional changes occurred. Although the DS3 made improvements from its predecessor, the Dualshock 2, with the L2 and R2 buttons, the design was still flawed. The L2 and R2 buttons attempted to be trigger-like, but most shooting games stuck with the L1 and R1 as the defaults for zooming and firing. Now, the L2 and R2 buttons are triggers that curve outward. On the PS3, the PlayStation Move was available for games that used motion which was an attempt to rival the Wii and Xbox Kinect. It never caught on, but on the DS4 there is a light bar which faces towards the television which can be used for motion and tracking-based games. One of the issues with it is that it cannot be turned off so battery life is wasted by games that don’t use the feature. Lastly, Sony has moved from using mini-usb to charge the controller to micro-usb. Micro-usb is far more common for other devices, such as Droids, which allow players to charge the device on their phone charger as well.
As a last sidenote, the vibration function has been enhanced as it gives much bigger pulses than the Dualshock 3 did.
The Dualshock 3 controller was a well-designed controller; however, it was flawed. With the launch of the PlayStation 4, the world was also introduced to the Dualshock 4 controller which has made significant advancements to the way players will game now and in the future.