DUALSHOCK 4: Hands-on Impressions from E3

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DUALSHOCK 4: Hands-on Impressions from E3

PlayStation 4

Following its debut at PlayStation’s February 20th event in New York City, DualShock 4 has emerged at E3 in near-final form. Though DualShock 3 has proven to be a capable and dependable wireless controller for years with PlayStation 3, the PS4’s new weapon of choice is a clear improvement across the board. Here are some quick E3 2013 impressions.

For me, DualShock 4’s most impactful new feature is a subtle but shockingly satisfying detail: A glossy cross-hatched texture that wraps around the larger handles. This texture provides a snug, more comfortable grip on the device compared to DualShock 3’s slipperier feel. This is one of those things you’ll need to try for yourself to truly understand, but once you experience it there’s no going back. It’s a delight.

DUALSHOCK 4 - PlayStation 4

Then there are the redesigned and retuned analog sticks, which now boast a concave surface and slightly stiffer deadzone that makes it easier to maneuver the camera using small, precise movements. The surface is also more tactile, but not so much that it impedes your thumb’s ability to glide around the inner rim as your make subtle adjustments to your aiming reticule in shooters like Blacklight: Retribution. Much like DualShock 4’s new textured grips, the revamped analog sticks are a clear improvement to the classic design sported by DualShock 2 and DualShock 3. It’s no contest.

The directional pad — always a strength on PlayStation controllers — also impressed. It boasts a unified design that reminded me of PS Vita’s well-liked pad, only oversized and sporting a slightly more tactile finish. The depth and response of the pad felt just right: Not too clicky, not too mushy; not too deep, not too shallow. Meanwhile, the new Share and Options buttons that have replaced Start and Select were unobtrusively placed and felt satisfyingly clicky — appropriate for buttons you’ll use less frequently.

PlayStation 4

Finally, the new L2 and R2 triggers are exactly what you would hope for and expect. Featuring a slightly “hooked” design and less pressure resistance, these puppies are a perfect fit for your itchy trigger finger. I was also pleased to find that DualShock 4’s L1 and R1 buttons feel almost identical to those on PS3. Why fix what ain’t broken, right? It will be interesting to see if developers of PlayStation 4 shooters enable the player to swap the firing buttons between R2 and R1 like they often do on PS3, or if R2 becomes the universal standard going forward.

I didn’t get a chance to try out any titles that made use of DualShock 4’s new lightbar, touch pad, integrated speaker, or the mono earbud that enables online voice chat out of the box. But those will surely come in time. For now, I’m pleased to report that DualShock 4 is hands-down the best, most comfortable console controller I’ve used.

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38 Author Replies

  • I had hands on with the PS4 controller at E3 and was surprised at how familiar it felt to a DualShock even though it looks so different. Loved it.

  • I need this system in my life…. like right now. I cannot wait until it releases this holiday.

  • Will Twitch and YouTube upload and streaming be coming to the Share feature?

  • ok so i see the ear buds. will that come wtih the system? And if i bought a separate controller, will that come with the ear buds? Also can i use other headphones like astros, turtle beaches, or even ps elite headset?

  • This thing looks great. I can totally imagine how the textured grip feels, i let me tell you, my imagination is saying it likes it.

  • I’ve heard nothing but great things about the DS4, good job!

  • It would be sweet if the DS4 has the weight of the DS1. The heaviness of it was and still is absolutely perfect!

  • @BOVICE47

    It’s “earbud”, singular. It comes with a mono earbud, which means a single earbud. Yes, every PS4 includes the mono earbud.

  • SinisterShadow22

    Wow, I could care less about most of the other features, aside from a possibly more ergonomic controller design? (being bigger/ect)

    But this
    “Then there are the redesigned and retuned analog sticks, which now boast a concave surface and slightly stiffer deadzone that makes it easier to maneuver the camera using small, precise movements.”

    That’s one improvement that was highly needed… I HATE the huge freaking dead-zone I have on my ps3 Dualshock 3 controller, but perhaps with a smaller-dead-zone I can actually ‘aim’ properly in games, instead of having to deal with precision over speed. >_<
    (This coming from a mainly PC user, and finding Console controllers not accurate enough.)

  • Cant wait to get my hands on Ds4…

  • Glad to hear the L1/R1 buttons haven’t changed that much. I’ve grown very accustomed to them this gen. Let’s hope most developers give an option to switch L1/R1 with L2/R2 though, for those whom prefer to use triggers.

  • You seem to lack a fundamental grasp of which buttons are L1 / R1 / L2 / R2.

  • What mm. Is the headset jack? Please answer if you have time.

  • i just can’t wait for the PS4

  • @BOVICE47 The PS4 still has an optical port on the back so headsets would still work.

  • All of these posts just keeps reminding me that I won’t be able to play one for at least 4 more months. :(

  • I just wish they had used a matte surface for the D-Pad and Button faces. Why would you use a finish so prone to showing fingerprints/oils on two parts of the controller that will see the most finger (well, thumb) traffic?

    Everything else looks great though.

    • This is a good question – I actually prefer the glossier feel of the face buttons, it helps my thumb glide around. As for the d-pad, it feels matte now

  • will i be able to use my iphone headphones as a mic ?

  • PS4 still has time to implement retrocompatibility with PS3 games, PS2 games and PSX digital games through software emulation (which they already have in their Gaikai milk-off-more-money-from-players system) and decline Plus being mandatory to play online maintaining online playing free for everyone. If they don’t, I will give the thumbs down to PS4, use my PS Plus account to “buy” free PS4 games and only buy it after it has dropped it’s price dramatically or they add compatibility with PS3 in any way they want to. I encourage everyone that bought over 190 digital PS3 games supporting this company to do the same. RESPECT TO MY PS3 GAMES COLLECTION!

  • I heard a rumor that additional controllers will cot $69.99..,I hope it’s not true. That’s way too much.

    Cheapo move to go with he single ear-bud. They should have spent the extra $0.50 so we can have stereo sound. Otherwise, it looks real good.

    I hope they have it in several colors at launch.

  • I still want to know if the camera is or is not included in the launch day units. In feb they said it would be standard and always come with it, now, no one is even talking about the camera.

  • I didn’t like the placement of the PS Button on the DS3, and pushing it further into the crevice that is between the thumbsticks doesn’t seem like a better solution.

  • I’ve always love the way the PlayStation controllers felt like :) This new sweet controller looks sick!! I love the new DS4 I can’t wait to get my PS4!!

  • I can’t wait to get my hands on this.

    Also, seeing how every console includes a mono headset that plugs into the controller, I’m curious about something; will the PlayStation 4 support the Pulse Elite headsets? I love mine and would hate for it not to work on it.

    Also @pablofsi08 – Get over it. The architecture is different so obviously nothing will work off the bat without using Gaikai, and whatever the come up with with that is what it is. I’ve purchased an extremely large amount of content off of the PSN so far (my download history shows over 1300 items) and I’m not complaining that it won’t work on my PS4. Why? Because the PS3 is still going to work and still have games. It’s not like it’s going to stop working the day the PS4 comes out/the day you get a PS4.

  • I’m interested to know if the jack itself will support stereo earbuds? Although, if it’s solely used for chat, I guess mono is more than enough.

    @19, you’re asking for too much. No way it can support PS3 software emulation. Maybe PS1/2, and it would be nice if they did so, but I wouldn’t hold my breadth. Since my PS3 died prematurely, I’m looking forward to Gaikai in order to play all the games I missed out on.

  • @MKPACK: Here, let me Google that for you. ;)

    From Amazon.com:

    DUALSHOCK 4 Controller
    by Sony
    Platform: PlayStation 4
    List Price: $59.99
    Price: $59.96

  • Amazing, waiting for the price in Brazil to know if I will buy the national edition or buy in United States.


  • Thanks for this post Sid,

    i’ve got a question about the Playstation wireless Stereo headset( the model before the Pulse): Can we use this one on PS4?
    I see the headphone you include but for me it’s not comfortable as the headset i’ve got already….Thanks for the reply.

  • Any word on how the existing Move peripheral fits into the mix? Will Wonderbook get a PS4 download so we can play Diggs Nightcrawler on PS4 natively?

    WIthout the camera, the lightbar is oddly superfluous unless it’s used to indicate health status, flashing on hits, or something like that.

    I really hope there’s a “premium” pre-order package that includes the camera and two DS4 controllers. 1) I don’t want to buy them separately and have them arrive at different times, and 2) I think that most people will “super size” to the premium package and get more cameras in the marketplace, meaning more games will be produced that use the camera.

    Also, any word on a PS4 version of SingStar Digital or Everybody Dance? We’re excited to play those with our existing content without switching to PS3, but also for the improved camera/video quality! :)

  • Pleeeeeeeeeaseeee tell me the Ps4 allows Ps3 games. I head it didnt. Now I dont want to sell my games ._.

  • controller looks awesome, and the fact that you can plug in a wired head phone into the controller is EPIC!!!!

    But i have heard that you have to Pay for online multiplayer on the Ps4. why the heck did you choose to do this?
    free online is one of the things that makes PlayStation great…why would you destroy that? please clarify :(

  • If you have an old original xbox controller you can swap out the sticks to your ps3 controller and get that nice concave feel instead of the raised up ones. How will this controller hold up when i have a rage attack and smash it into the ground? Surprisingly all controllers in the past still function but i have to assume this will be a fragile piece.

  • Ruben2Gunstealer

    When is playstation podcast going up sid

  • im sorry for sounding dumb but can comeone refresh my memorie as to what the big empty spae in the middle of the controller is ? is a touch pad?

  • will the Pulse Elite Headset work with the PS4?

  • If i buy the standalone DS4 will the headphone come with it ?

  • Please Sony listen to me… take the D-Pad that you have on the Vita on put on the DS4. If you do this it’ll be the greatest controller ever built! Please!

  • @Sid first off you had great videos and amazing interviews so thank you for the live broadcast okay actually I can’t believe how small the ps4 is . It looks amazing. Now my question is have you actually seen the ps4 running in front of you and me can you tell me how loud it is? And I ready have my PS4 paid off so can you cryogenically freeze me and wake me up when it comes out?

  • How about adding sliders on the back of the joysticks that allow you to disable R3 and L3?

  • Thank you for answering :)

  • Also that was the answer I was hoping for so I’m super pumped!

  • @G-U-__RILLAZ it’s called an eyesore and is used to collect scratches, nicks and fingerprints.

  • In my hands, the Dualshocks have always felt better than any other controller. They were always one of the reasons I stayed PlayStation over any other. I can’t wait to own this!

  • Any comment on the vibration feature? I thought the dualshock 3 vibration was very weak compared to the dualshock 2. Hopefully the dualshock 4 will have a strong vibration feature. This is a great thing when used properly in games. There is nothing I hate more in a game then shooting a gun and not feeling any feedback or driving a car and not feeling the bumps in the road etc..

  • Looks so beautiful! My anticipation for the PS4 is at it’s highest right now! I have never looked forward to a new console in my life. Thanks for an outstanding E3 and very decisive blow to Microsoft’s deception. All Microsoft X1 demos and playable games were running on Windows 7 not Windows 8 not X1 dev kits. They were using Nvidia graphics cards not AMD. AMD will be in the X1. There was a X1 game that crashed to a HP Windows 7 desktop. There are pictures of a tech fixing that PC. Amazing!

  • I really wish the control had the ability to interchange the D-PAD for the left stick.

  • Question, will I be able to use stereo headsets with a removable boom mic, like the Astro Gaming A40 and V-MODA Crossfade M-100, for audio and chat with the gamepad’s audio-in jack?

  • Any information about using the pulse headset for the ps4? It would be awesome to use it instead of buying another one for another system :D

  • i need to know if my pulse elite headset will work with the ps4. i’m assuming it does.

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