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Daily Reaction: Should we be Excited for the PS4’s DualShock 4 Controller?

February 15, 2013 Written by Dan Oravasaari

With less than a week to go till the inevitable announcement of the PS4, images surfaced claiming to show the DualShock controller will evolve. The Daily Reaction duo of Seb and Dan discuss potential problems and benefits of the redesign and what it could mean for Sony’s future console.

Dan: As many people have already seen by now, images have released showing how the DualShock 4 will be redesigned, and just what new features it will bring. Looking at the new model, you can see just what will be needed to bring on so many new concepts to the standard controller, as new features will require space where there wasn’t any before. As it was once thought to be a fake, now it seems that it is more likely a concept model designed simply for devs to test out functionality of new concepts being brought to the PS4.

Given the number of rumors that have been swirling around the internet regarding the next-gen consoles, the validity of the image that originally leaked on Destructoid were up for debate. Even here on PSLS we were unsure what to take of the new images, as the image did show just how far removed from the DualShock 3 it would become, and Dtoid were very unclear about how they had found the image. As other rumors had hinted at the inclusion of various features and cosmetic changes to the structure of the controller, it would seem like a misstep, much like when Sony tried to unveil the epically ugly ‘boomerang’ controller during their E3 unveiling of the PS3. While this new controller is not nearly as ‘down-under’ as the boomerang, it still looks like something Mad Catz would design on a budget.

Whether it is lucky or not, the rumored redesign has since been ‘confirmed’ by multiple sources to be a legitimate developer’s kit, and could mean many things for what to expect for the PS4. Hearing that the source of information has been verified by IGN, Eurogamer, and several other sources, it does seem the DualShock as we know it might never be the same. But, whether or not all of these changes are going to be worth the loss of that familiar controller feel, will have to wait until the 20th to be determined.

Seb: Well looking at it, I already feel like there’s a few things to be concerned about. It’s clearly not the best looking controller ever, but I’m going to presume that’s just because it’s a dev kit version and that Sony plans to sexy it up. Instead, let’s look at the features.

The most prominent new feature is the front touchpad, which is based on the Vita’s rear touchpad… because so many games totally use that effectively. I just worry that the touchpad’s addition is an unnecessary gimmick to emulate both the Wii U’s and mobiles’ touch features. Buttons are better, and its placement would make using it and the analog sticks simultaneously pretty uncomfortable. The touchpad could be used by itself for playing Angry Birds, I guess, but that seems like too much expenditure on something most core gamers won’t want.

Then there’s the top Move-style glowing bar… Ok, I get it. On the one hand it’s a smart way to make sure everyone who has a PS4 has a motion controller, without having to go through the expensive cost of bundling a Move controller along with the standard one. But here’s the problem – the Move’s glowing orb sticks out, so if you hold your Move at most angles the orb is still visible for the camera. This thing? Easily hidden. Turn the DS4 too far to the left or the right and the jutting L1/2 and R1/2 buttons will block it completely. Point it too far up or down and the controller body will block it completely. The camera won’t be able to see what you’re doing with the motion controller.

Then there’s the problem that it is still mostly designed like a standard DualShock. That’s not very ergonomic for motion controls. Will all your movements have to be two-handed? Or will you uncomfortably hold the controller in one hand? What worries me is that this could end up being the SixAxis 2 – an unused feature that only ends up hampering some early first party games.

But my biggest worry of all is a very simple one. Fragility. Think back – how many times have you dropped your DualShock? It easily happens, but thankfully the thing is built sturdily. Now imagine that its front is a sensitive touch screen and its top is an LED. Yup.

On the bright side, I do like the addition of a headphone jack at the bottom. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s a useful feature (although, do you want to be using the DS4’s Move capabilities and swinging it around when there’s a wire strapped to your face?).

The speaker grille also seems like it could be nice, although it absolutely needs to be way better than the awful speaker on the Wiimote. That was a pointless, tinny gimmick.

Hopefully what we see here is not too near the final version of the DualShock 4, and that Sony can come up with a strong reason for the touchpad, something they have sadly struggled to do with the Vita. Sony has surprised us all before, and managed to make something no one one took seriously into a big deal – just look at the original launch of the very first PlayStation, something which many of Sony’s own executives thought would fail.

I want to be proven wrong, I want to have to take back all of my criticisms and concerns, but I do worry that Sony may be chasing dreams of casual audiences with touchpads and motion glowsticks and gambling with the DualShock itself. Controllers are fundamental to our enjoyment of gaming, and are far more important than an extra gig of RAM or another teraflop of power. It’s important that Sony doesn’t mess up our portal to gaming.

Are you excited for a new DualShock controller? What features do you wish Sony would add? What features do you think they shouldn’t have added? Will the battery last? Let us know in the comments below, or by redesigning our twitter accounts at Seb and Dan.

Be sure to email DR ideas, podcast comments and your leaky images to DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net.