DualShock 4 4

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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? (47 votes)

  1. Enhanced rumble is making me shake with anticipation11%
  2. Decreased latency will make me a superstar13%
  3. I just want to charge my controller overnight32%
  4. Those split-screen features sound swell17%
  5. The new triggers have my fingertips itching28%

Please login to vote in this poll.

[source eurogamer.net, via uk.ign.com, polygon.com, edge-online.com, joystiq.com]