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Five Things You May Not Know About the PS4's Controller

Posted by Sammy Barker

Evolved input

While we still haven’t got a proper look at the actual PlayStation 4 itself yet, Sony has been pretty forthcoming about the controller. The input device – dubbed the DualShock 4 – maintains the rough shape of its predecessor, but packs a wealth of improvements beneath the plastic. While we detailed a lot of these tidbits directly after last month’s PlayStation Meeting, the platform holder used its GDC panel yesterday to outline some smaller details about its next generation console’s input device. So, what were the highlights?

Rumble's back and better than ever before

Sony said some really silly things at the start of the current generation, some of them centred on the SixAxis’ lack of rumble. It didn’t take long for the company to backtrack, and force feedback was reintroduced with the vastly superior DualShock 3. It’s no surprise, then, that rumble will be available from the outset on the PS4 – but the platform holder is taking the opportunity to implement a few improvements in the process.

Much like the manufacturer’s current handset, the DualShock 4 will feature two rumble motors. However, while the DualShock 3 had a single analogue motor and a smaller digital one, the next generation console’s controller will boast two analogue motors. This will essentially allow developers to convey more subtle motions through the controller, leading to more immersive experiences.

Digital buttons are the future

The pressure sensitive buttons in the DualShock 3 are being tossed out, and will be replaced by more straightforward digital inputs. According to the platform holder, few developers actually used the analogue buttons, so the company has decided to reap the benefits of reduced latency at the expense of the feature. With smaller data packets being transferred between the system and the controller, the next generation device will apparently feel much more responsive than its predecessor.

In other news, the touchpad on the front of the unit will boast an enormous resolution of 1920x900, and will support up to two fingers at once. Clicking it will add an extra input, which may come in handy for web browsing or games that simply need an extra button.

Recharge your batteries overnight

You’ll no longer need to turn your console on in order to charge your controllers on the PS4. While the PS3 shut down its USB ports in sleep mode, the next generation console will rectify this niggle, reducing the need for you to hunt out charging cables when you’re in the middle of a game.

Exactly how long a full charge will last remains a bit of a mystery, but considering the increase in functionality – and particularly the addition of a light strip on the head of the device – it’s safe to assume that overnight charging may prove a big boon.

The system knows where you’re sitting

We’ve all spent the afternoon playing split-screen games, only to find ourselves sitting on the wrong side of the couch after a brief bathroom break. While this can lead to unnecessary seat swapping on the PS3, the PS4 will be able to use the light sensor on the top of each handset to track where you’re sitting, and flip your display accordingly.

Elsewhere, the light sensor will also be used to add additional feedback to games. For example, if your health is low, it could blink red to make sure that you're aware. Alternatively, it could be used to replicate gunfire, or show that you’re being chased by the police. It will ultimately be down to developers how this functionality gets implemented, but there are obviously dozens of different possibilities.

Just a touch

Much like the analogue buttons, the slippy exterior of the DualShock 3 has also been given the boot. Sony’s next generation console’s controller will now boast a textured rear, which should help to prevent the controller from sliding out of your hands during hairy online sessions. Furthermore, the dead zone on the analogue sticks has been tweaked, presumably to reduce the sensation of looseness that was a common complaint on the PS3.

As previously detailed, the controller’s L2 and R2 triggers have also been redesigned. These now adopt a more pointed appearance, and boast lips at the tips to stop your fingers from slipping off. Whether this means that the redesigned inputs will replace the traditional L1 and R1 buttons in first and third-person shooters remains to be seen, but we do know that, at the moment, Killzone: Shadow Fall is sticking with a more traditional control scheme.

Is there anything in particular that excites you about the DualShock 4? Has the design grown on you yet? Let us know in the comments section and poll below.

Which of the following has you most excited about the DualShock 4? (45 votes)

Enhanced rumble is making me shake with anticipation


Decreased latency will make me a superstar


I just want to charge my controller overnight


Those split-screen features sound swell


The new triggers have my fingertips itching


Please login to vote in this poll.


User Comments (27)



get2sammyb said:

@TheRealBatman Haha, yeah, the feature set is impressive. The shape's starting to grow on me, too. I think it looks much better in the photographs where it's lying flat. I'm not so keen on the front-facing images.



InsertNameHere said:

@get2sammyb I'm not so keen on how it looks from the front either, but the design is apparently only "near final" so hopefully it looks better once it's done.



ShogunRok said:

I've seen pictures of the controller so much now all I want to do is hold it like my newborn child.

Anyway it all sounds fantastic, although I can see the light being ignored fairly often by developers - can't see that taking off at all despite what Sony says.



Paranoimia said:

Love the look of the controller, love the features, and can't wait to get my hands on one. The only thing I'm not sure of is the talk of using the light bar for feedback in games, and that's purely because I don't think that using it for feedback will really work.

Unlike the ball on the Move which is clearly visible to the user pretty much all of the time, looking at images of the DS4 it seems likely that each user is not really going to see the light bar on their own controller during normal usage. Think about how you hold and use a DualShock3 - when do you notice anything on the front of it? I don't even notice the red LED blinking on mine when it needs charging - it's only the accompanying on-screen message that gets my attention.

Okay, you might notice a colour change if you're playing in a darkened room, but being on the front of the controller, it isn't really going to be noticeable during the day or in a reasonably well-lit room.

For that reason alone, I don't see many developers utilising it in the manner some people are speculating.



Munkyknuts said:

The new controller looks awesome. The new design of the triggers is excellent, as I had to buy the attachments that added curve to L2 and R2 on all my dual shock 3's it was a rubbish design flaw. The body of it being textured is nice too. I love that it has mostly kept the shape of the previous controllers. I can't say I'm totally sold on the light bar, it won't be utilised, and while it could add to immersion in certain situation, it's not worth the draw on battery life.....kinda spoils the sleek sexy look of the controller too.



get2sammyb said:

@Paranoimia You make some good points. I've heard that the light bar is quite powerful, so it will definitely illuminate a darkened room. But, yeah, I got see it being used for much other than ambient player feedback. I think that's fine, though.



Zombie_Barioth said:

Am I the only one who finds the lack of start and select buttons weird?
Despite the added features the DS4 looks more streamlined than the DS3, you can really tell that Sony put a lot of though into it.



rastamadeus said:

The splitscreen bit is just utter nonsense and only useful in games with vertical splitscreen which is, what, two or three games? The rest is all sound though.



get2sammyb said:

@rastamadeus Yeah, it's a neat idea, but ultimately pretty limited in scope. You could imagine a quiz game asking questions in the order that people are sitting or something, but I can't imagine anything like that getting used much at all.



ShogunRok said:

At the end of the day it's all about options for developers though isn't it? Want to use a certain feature? Feel free. Not that I think many developers will actually make use of some of this, but it's there for them nonetheless.



Tuturoopa said:

Pretty nifty actualy, like the splitscreen thing, now of or it could just look better, i think im getting used to it slowly though



rastamadeus said:

@KALofKRYPTON What? To help you remember which of the two characters you're controlling? If you can't remember even that little then you'd be best going to the doctors, not playing Street Fighter.




@rastamadeus Well, while playing with friends and passing the pad/winner stays on, I like the idea that you could start on 'your' side. Not a game changer at all, but would be cool. Same for split screen racing.



get2sammyb said:

I think @ShogunRok's ultimately got the right idea — it's more important that the functionality is ready and available to developers. I've always felt on PS3, that the more options the better. Cram as much in as possible, and if it doesn't get used, fine. But at least make sure it's there.



rjejr said:

I'm surprised you didn't mention the headphone jack or the speaker, or are you just assuming everybody knows about those new additions? I don't think I'll ever use the headphone jack but I really like my Wiimote speaker, it adds a little bit more immersion like rumble.

I think the bigger surprise is that the DS3 has analogue buttons more than the DS4 will have digital

I still think they need to add in induction receivers on the DS4 so we can recharge it at night by just putting it down rather than plugging it in. Plugs are so last gen.



Jaz007 said:

@Zombie_Barioth No, I think it was a bad idea too. The start and select buttons were used for different things and eliminating one of them is a bad idea.Hipefully they will put it back soon.



hamispink said:

@Zombie_Barioth I always found that having start and select buttons was wierd, considering they aren't used to select options or start games anymore. Options makes more sense, though I will be odd after having start and select for so long.



hamispink said:

@rjejr I liked the concept of the Wii-mote speaker, but in practice it actually took me out of the game. I'd be playing when suddenly a low quality sound effect would come from the controller that usually contrasted with the rest of the games sound.



Tony_342 said:

I like all the features jammed into this thing, but the design hasn't grown on me yet. I still think it looks like something a third-party company would make (Nyko, for example). It just doesn't have the sleekness I would expect from Sony. Perhaps they'll polish it up a bit before release. Either way, I'm sure I'll get used to it. The features and ergonomics are what's important.



SilentJ said:

I already charge my DS3 overnight using my cable box but I'm glad it will be possible to do that on the PS4 console itself.



AVahne said:

Funny how Sony's adding standby mode USB power to PS4 while Nintendo removed it on Wii U....BRING IT BACK NINTENDO D:



Hetsumani said:

The light bar is going to bring one big problem, screen reflection, I had to put some tape on my DS3's LED to prevent it. Other than that great design.



pikku said:

Am I the only one who thinks the split screen stuff sounds weird? It's hard enough to get my family (who don't play a lot of games) to understand which screen is theirs in a split screen game of Mario Kart or Goldeneye. How am I going to explain it now that it moves if you change your seat? lol.

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