Sony has finally abandoned the traditional Dual Shock controller design that they’ve used for over fifteen years, but I’m not complaining: the new PS4 controller is an improvement in almost every single way.
I know a lot of Sony fanboys got upset when rumors started circulating that Sony was ditching the Dual Shock for the PS4, but honestly, I was glad to hear that the ol’ Dual Shock was being retired. I love that controller, sure, but its time had come: ergonomic design has come a long way since the days of the PS1, and a redesign was long overdue. Hell, when the PS3 was originally unveiled with its quickly cancelled “boomerang” controller, I was actually happy, and if you actually got the chance to use that controller before Sony shit-canned it, you would’ve felt that it was noticeably more comfortable than the regular Dual Shock.
The as-yet-unnamed PS4 controller is also a fair bit more comfortable than the PS3’s Dual Shock 3 as well. The first change you notice when you hold the controller is how different the grips feel in your hands: instead of flaring downward like the Dual Shock’s prongs, the handles slightly bend outward, almost like a 360 controller does. The triggers also feel like they were pulled from a 360: while the Dual Shock 3’s triggers simply curved down, the PS4’s triggers feel like… well, triggers, and they now curve outwards so you don’t have to worry about your finger slipping off the edge.
The PS4 pad also features two other big additions: a glowing light bar at the top of the controller, which will be used in conjunction with the PS Eye camera in order to track motion controls, and a small, touch-sensitive panel in the center of the controller. Unfortunately, none of the PS4 games I’ve played at E3 so far have used either of these features, so I haven’t been able to see how accurately they work. I did play a fair number of PS4 games in rooms that had the lights dimmed, and the glowing blue bar on the controller wasn’t bright enough to be distracting, so there’s that.
There seemed like there were lots of little improvements as well: I’ve never liked Sony’s segmented d-pads (Sega Saturn pad ftw,) but while the different directions of the PS4 pad are still separate buttons, they’re now a bit closer to each other, so hopefully they’ll be less blisters involved when you try to pull off quarter circle movements in a fighting game.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the PS4 controller: Sony’s fixed all of the issues I had with the Dual Shock 3, and they’ve managed to add in a few of the elements that I liked from the 360 controller as well. While its disappointing that most games seem to be neglecting some of the new features of the controller, I don’t think anyone is going to miss the Dual Shock once they get the PS4 controller in their hands.
Also, in case you Microsoft fanboys were wondering where the Xbone coverage is at: I only got to play one Xbox One game yesterday (the lines were insane,) so I haven’t had enough experience with that system’s new controller to formulate an accurate opinion on it yet, but I’ll definitely report my impressions with that controller as well after I play a few more Xbone games today.