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

  • @CrusaderForever, at post #46

    I gotta agree with you on Microsoft. I’ll get an Xbox One eventually, but not until their DRM schemes invariably blow up in their face and they remove the used game blocking and 24-hour phone in. I’ll miss Forza Motorsport 5, and the Killer Instinct reboot looks real tempting, but the DRM, and the $500 asking price, are a no go for me.

  • love the ds4.. i would of been nice tho to have music track buttons (<>) to automatically to change tracks. that would be a cool feature. on the ps3 it takes you out the game to press the ps button to change songs then press the ps button again to resume your game..but anyway looking forward to the ps4 :)

  • All I need to know is if it has a rechargeable battery built in?

  • @BOBBYTOWERS, at post #53,

    I think it’s the same deal as the DS3, a non-replaceable rechargeable battery built in.

  • Has the rumble improved? Hate to bring up the other guy, but rumble in the triggers sound awesome. Is there anything like that? Or maybe something special you guys are holding back from us for a latter date?

    • The few games I played didn’t seem to have rumble going yet, so this is another thing i’ll be keeping a close eye on for my next experience

  • Looks like the joysticks will still rub against the controller and wear away. I was really hoping they’d fix that issue. Otherwise it all looks great! Can’t wait!

  • I agree with others, the mono earbud really annoys me. I though: nice, I’ll be able to play when someone’s reading or sleeping. Nope, mono sound. Very bad move for playstation on that part.

    Not sure how easily I’ll get used to the new joysticks and the absence of select-start. A controller without a select button… :O

    Overall the design is nice, I’ll be sure to look at all the removed features before buying a PS4 though. Video capture is a massive argument, but I really hate anti-hack stuff which affects honest players.

    • The mono earbud is mostly about getting voice chat super accessible, it’s not for music listening

  • You left the R1 and L1 alone. Perfect.

    Without a doubt it looks like improvements across the board, I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

  • Handles do look like you will have an overall better grip than DS3. The space separation is greater width wise when comparing the closeness of the sticks.

    I hope the D is at least on par with DS3. It doesn’t look matte at all.

    I’d like to know just how fine tuned the pressure sensitively is on both the sticks & triggers in comparison to say a 360 controller?

    • I tweaked the language a bit on the d-pad, it’s definitely a bit more textured if not all-out matte. I liked it though

  • I had a chance to go to E3, and I must say I LOVE the controller. It feels so great, and I love the texture Sid is talking about. I feel like this will prevent sweat when playing long hours. I also wanted to say that Sid did a great job on Day 3 when interviewing the cast of The Last of Us. Can’t wait till you guys upload that video. :)

  • As much as I hate to admit it, I also agree with #55. The vibrating trigger feature sounds really awesome, and a very innovative idea.

    Sony listened to us before, maybe they’ll listen again: feel free to steal good ideas from the other guys. I only want your system, but I wouldn’t mind adding in a couple of the cool features from the other ones.

  • Will my PS3 Wireless headset work? the 99$ sony one? the one that came before the Pulse Elite?

  • PrimeroIncognito

    I’m excited to play with the DualShock 4 soon. It looks great.

  • Got a few questions:
    1.Can the Navigator controller works with the Camera?
    2.Can the Light bar on the top of the DS4 be use as a cursor like the move for FPS/TPS or for the PS4 menu system?
    3. Will the touchpad be use to navigate the PS4 menu system?
    4. Will Killzone or any Day One games using the motion, PS camera and/or touch pad in anyway?
    Thank you in advance.

  • I’ve since February warmed up to the look of the Dualshock 4. Now I (literally) can’t wait to get my hands on one! And please have more colors at launch!

  • “Why fix what ain’t broken”…interesting that you quoted this because it fits perfectly in the Dualshock 4 subject which should’ve not been so changed..Dualshock 4 is ugly as fu**….they need to made the analog sticks like on past dualshocks..and get rid of that concave which is pretty stupid…plus the crosses that the past dualshocks used to have below the X.circle,square and triangle buttons and the d-pad…why remove that?….and the worst of all….why did they remove the “start” and “select” buttons?….Dualshock 1,2 and 3 are the best controllers ever created…there is no controller on this planet to feel more comfortable with while playing but I see that this will change with dualshock 4.Hope there is a way to use the dualshock 3 on PS4 like there is a way to use the dualshock 2 on PS3.

  • We NEED Youtube and Twitch for uploading and streaming!!!

  • ReZeRReCTiOn-115

    How many people can you cross game chat with? Please answer. And can you customize your profile?

  • ReZeRReCTiOn-115

    You can stream on Ustream with Ps4 not twitch.

  • Are the textured handles rubbery feeling? Or are they smooth?

    • Nice and smooth, no rubberiness. It feels very…”premium,” for lack of a better word. It also seemed like it might help keep your hands a bit cooler, like some others have said.

  • was wondering if you have 2 controls with 2 mono headset plugged in playing lets say cod online split screen with a friend will both mics work?

  • All I need and want to say is….Thank you Sony :P

  • I am in no rush for this system..,the PS3 still has A LOT OF POTENTIAL ..especially since SAINTS ROW 4, GT6, GTA5 and 2K14 are being released for it THIS YEAR!..ad they only be released for the PS4..then i would IMMEDIATELY jump on that PS4 bandwagon because the graphics would be a lot more AMAZING! but..looks like i wont be getting one anytime soon..sad isnt it :/

  • I’ve already been telling people that just from the photos I can think this will be the greatest controller of all time. The size, shape and position of the sticks,d-pad and buttons all look perfect. Plus the added function of the touchpad ,light bar and speaker .

  • @9: Tell me about it, the deadzone on DS3 is terrible. That’s why I like playing on PS Vita more, the deadzone on those analog sticks are tiny. I think that’s why so many people complain about them, they’re not used to not needing to move four million miles before something happens. :P

    @35: It’s the touchpad.

    @32: Nothing to clarify. It’s in PS+ for PS4. Accept it, or stick to F2P games. They’re adding a lot of new PSN features for PS4. They have to pay for them somehow.

    Even as a PS+ member, I’d rather it not be this way, but it’s happened and it won’t change. Just be glad it’s included in a service that’s awesome on it’s own and not the only redeeming factor of the subscription.

  • We aren’t going to get native, system wide, twitch. MS has them.

    I read somewhere that if a game is designed a certain way to support twitch, then that’s a work around for allowing twitch streaming on PS4 though.

    Had Sony nabbed twitch, then MS would be left with literally no upper hand at all. Twitch is just better than ustream.

    @66: Select is a useless button. It’s functions in the VERY FEW games that actually used it can be mapped to tapping the touchpad. Which is not only closer to BOTH sides of the controller, but also is a huge making it far more useful.

    And start = options. Same functions, different and more accurate name.

    You’re literally complaining about change, because it’s change. If you actually thought about it, neither would bother you at all because both are huge improvements.

  • The touchpad can be used as input for virtual keyboard? An sticker on it with letters would be nice to see were are the keys

  • PS4 still has time to implement retrocompatibility through software emulation with PS3 games, PS2 games and PSX digital games 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 CANT WAIT TILL THE PS4 COMES OUT FREAKIN HAPPY :D but wait some people are sayin the online wont be free i think it will be free.
    :) i hope…

  • Hey, Sid. Will we be able to use any other 1/4 inch jack mono headphones with the DS4? I’ve never been a fan of inside the ear headphones.

    Other than that, the new design is clearly a vast improvement, can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    • Not sure – I’ve got a follow-up list of questions and we’ll see what I can dig up! From my experience sometimes the smaller details don’t become clearer until closer to release

  • will the pulse 7.1 sorround sound headset work on ps4?

  • I’m interested in hearing more about the DS4’s “enhanced rumble capabilities.” I remember when Sony finally got everything fixed with Immersion, there were rumors about the DS3 having Immersion’s “TouchSense” feedback but that turned out to be false.

  • Is this saying that the right rear buttons are different from the left.. L1-L2 from R1-R2??

  • It’s just bad they didn’t change the R2 and L2 trigger to be liked the one on xbox. They have the best trigger on the market

  • BloodiedWraith your fanboy assumptions were owned by the blog’s editor himself who works for Sony. And it brings very bad news.

  • Can’t wait to try one of these out. Is there anyway you could possibly confirm for me if when using the Share button that PS+ is required to broadcast games to Ustream? Only one site seems to say so, while everywhere else mentions its just for online multiplayer (which I hope is the case, or the button feels like it will be rather limited if you don’t have plus).

  • looks great (as PS4), I love it already :)

  • would turtle beaches or beats be able to be used on ps4 controller

  • @ Sid

    When can we expect to get a very long and detailed walkthough of the UI for the PS4? Also as an Indie Dev. I’d like much more information on this self publishing, and how to go about getting something approved for PS4 and/or Vita.

    Also I noticed you can download the Single Player or Multiplayer on KZ:Shadow Fall in what order you like. Can you, lets say after you beat the SP remove it and just keep the MP on the disk drive? If not it might be something to look in to as it could greatly cut down on the amount of data on the disk.

  • 1) “click” is not an adjective.

    2) Instead of “R1 and R2” and “L1 and L2”, you mean “R1 and L1” and “R2 and L2”.

    3) Developers best allow trigger remapping between the _2 buttons, unless once more you meant different buttons than stated (here, “_2 and _1”). Regardless, full button remapping should become standard with this next generation, in consideration of disabled gamers or even just personal preference.

    4) I would be interested in the controllers being backwards-compatible with the PS3, automatically reassigning the Share and Options buttons to its Start and Select (or Select and Start), however that goes).

  • @57 pivottt – Is this right? MONO sound?! Look, I’m not one to voice chat; in fact, the most common thing I play with that option is PS Home, but like heck I’d open that floodgate. No, I, too, was hoping for a headphone jack, but instead it’s just yet another option solely beneficial to multiplayers.

  • The only thing I have aainst them so far is that those earphones look terrible, and always feel terrible, and can I use my MP3 jack, or do I have to have a ‘specialised jack’ like the 360 or a phone

  • will the headset port allow input and output or is it output only?

  • Not much that looks good on Xbone, but rumble/resistance in the triggers does seem very cool. Would be nice to see that implemented.

  • Can we use a usb head set plugged into the system or does it have to go through the controller?

  • Why the design team didn’t use the Vita’s D-Pad? Is the best for Fighting games I have tryied ever! I was really hoping for that.. just a little bigger for the dualshock…

  • I got to say The Dual Shock 4 controller seems way more advanced then the Dual Shock 3 controller. I loved the Dual Shock 3 controller but the Dual Shock 4 controller seems more exciting than the Dual Shock 3 controller. But i have one question….. Do we use U-Stream for to record gameplays and add them to Facebook , Twitter and YouTube? Or is the U-Stream thing just for live- Stream to things?

  • Can’t wait to get my hands on the new controller as I’ve been hearing nothing but great things about it so far. Since the PS4 has Bluetooth, is it safe to assume those PS3 Bluetooth headsets will continue to work with the new console?

  • That’s what I’m TALKN ABOUT more free bees to get u started on the right foot with a new system.
    a headset. Love u Sony Playstation my home is a PLAYSTATION HOME. Power 2 the Gamers.

  • Everyone, The Pulse Elites can jack on the bottom that you can use when plugging it into a PS Vita, I imagine it will work with USB, but even if it doesn’t I’d imagine you can plug it in via the headphone jack, right?

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