At this week’s GameStop Expo I was able to get my hands on the PS4 controller, how did it shape up? It was everything I expected.
The controller is ruled by subtle changes and carry the design into the next-generation while keeping the feel familiar. The three most glaring differences from prior incarnations of Sony’s dualshock are the concave analog sticks, altered shoulder buttons and touchpad places smack in the middle of the controller where the PS button once was.
Concave analog sticks are where its at, the change from the slippery nubs prior provide much needed grip because your thumbs rest gently in the newly created hole, giving you more traction and better control.
Curved shoulder buttons were a much needed upgrade as many gamers found themselves sliding off of the back. No worries here anymore, the curved out L2/R2 buttons in coordination with the altered analog sticks give you a better grip of the controller overall. It literally sits in your hands and stays there without any chance of slip. The springiness of the shoulder buttons are a massive improvement as they shoot back to your fingers even after the quickest taps.
Many people asked me about the controllers most prominent added feature, the touchpad. Although I don’t know how often it will be utilized, I can confidently say it works and works well. The reaction is liken to the Vita’s touchscreen, though texturally it feels nothing like it, and just as accurate. I fiddled around with it when demoing Playroom and it worked well enough, just as the Vita can be fidgety, the DualShock can occasionally be not entirely accurate. Speaking of Playroom, the light-bar/Move works surprisingly well. Oh, and yes the clicking of it works well and feels like a laptop’s touchpad click.
The unsung heroes of the controller and perhaps the best parts in my opinion, next to the analog sticks, are the digital buttons and the material of the controller itself.
Having played the PS4 and experiencing near-zero latency makes me sad to play the PS3 again realizing what I don’t have. Imagine the Vita’s buttons, but to PS3 controller scale and raised like the 360’s; perfect. Experiencing the connect between pressing the button and the game’s reaction has truly opened my eyes.
Last but not least, the material is superb. The matte finished plastic is smooth, feels strong when combined by the increased size of the controller and the rubbered back holds your hand but is light and breathable, it will be the first thing you notice.
The latest in Sony’s DualShock family successfully combines familiarity with massive improvements. The details go a long way and provide a fresh, new experience without losing its identity.