The PlayStation 4 controller is just slightly better than the best thing ever
What people like or dislike in a video game controller is often subjective; our hands come in many sizes and shapes, and what feels comfortable to me may be intolerable for you across lengthy playing sections. There is no perfect controller, as everyone is looking for slightly different things in how they control their games.
That being said, the PlayStation 4 controller may be the best thing since sliced bread.
The sum of its parts
Its hard to measure the controller against its peers without having a variety of controllers right next to each other, but the DualShock 4 feels larger in my hand, with a much more rounded design where you grip the controller. Its also slightly heavier, and the overall design rests against the natural curves of your hand in a much more natural way.
My first thought when a developer placed the controller in my hand was the following: Holy shit, thats nice. It takes a bit to work backwards to figure out everything Sony did in the design to get that reaction, but there you go.
It felt almost too good, like I was holding something illicit. I was afraid it would be taken away. It felt like the first time I touched a girls breast in the backseat of a car with fogged up windows, scared that her parents were going to fling the door open and start yelling at me. I wanted to grab the controller and run. I wanted to nuzzle it against my face and ask it who is a good controller? Who is a good controller?
Youre a good controller, you sexy thing, you.
The triggers are likewise more comfortable, curving slightly inward to hold your finger. The buttons and D-pad likely have some subtle distinctions between the Dual Shock 4 and the previous PlayStation 3 controllers, but I couldnt tell much of a difference. The controller comes with rumble, standard, so we dont have to suffer through Sony claiming that force feedback is a last-gen feature because it doesnt want to pay to license it.
The analog sticks have a cupped design and a firmer feel; I never had the sense my thumb was going to slide off. I was able to try a hands-on demo of the upcoming Playstation 4 Killzone title, and in that game you swipe the touchpad to switch between different secondary powers. The action felt accessible and effective, and you can click down on the pad as well, just as you would the touchpad on your laptop. The director of the console version of Diablo 3 told me the touch pad was one of the things they were looking at while porting the game to the PlayStation 4, although they werent sure what theyd use it for quite yet.
The touchpad is a better move than you think. With more big-name games being released and ported to and from mobile devices, and even consoles like the Ouya, a touchpad on your controller means youll be able to play those games on your console. Microsofts answer to touch controls is the Kinect, an expensive accessory that is likely partially to blame for the systems $500 price point, while delivering a control mechanism that is still nowhere near as precise as a physical controller.
This is Sonys play for better ports to and from other devices and, while Ill need to play more on it to know for sure, so far it seems like that gamble paid off. The touchpad is already much better than the similar control mechanism on the Ouya controller. There is a light on the back of the DualShock 4, and that's going to let the new camera see where you are in the room or use the controller like a PlayStation Move. It's neat that it's there, but I'm not holding my breath for this feature to become very important. There is a also a port on the bottom for a mono ear bud and speaker that will allow voice chat in online games.
So that's the breakdown of things, but everything taken as a whole has created a controller that feels almost stupidly great in my hands. Yesterday I felt my next child move for the first time. I felt her tiny feet kick through my wife's belly, my hand finally being given its first tactile evidence that my child is alive and healthy. That experience was several steps higher than feeling the PlayStation 4 controller for the first time but, damnit, they were closer than I'm comfortable admitting.
The PlayStation 4 controller is up there with Otter Pops after a squirt-gun fight, and grilled cheese sandwiches. It's a good book and a hot bath, and Flight of the Navigator. I can't wait to play more.
That is almost creepy... O.o
Brad from Giant Bomb also seems to like it:
Blacklight: Retribution, Zombie Studios' free-to-play shooter which launched on PC in 2011, might be one of the first shooters on the PlayStation 4 a fact that carries with it a tremendous amount of pressure.
Consoles live and die by the ergonomics of their controllers, and the manner in which developers utilize those controllers for launch titles. That's whatBlacklight's aiming to be: a launch title for the PS4, though it may take a few months longer than that to finish the port, Zombie Studios communications manager Collin Moore told Polygon during an E3 2013 demo.
My Blacklight demo marked my first time holding the PlayStation 4's new controller, which I fell in love with instantly. It feels better in the hand, with more responsive buttons and far more manageable triggers than those on the comparatively obtuse DualShock 3. Blacklight on PS4 utilizes that controller extremely well the PC version of the title has been lauded for its tight shooting mechanics, which have been adapted nicely to the new DualShock.
That's quite fortunate, Moore explained, because a console's early shooters are often responsible for selling the promise of how all games will control on new platforms.
"For ergonomics in the controls; we saw it last generation with Halo, Halo pretty much defined how people held the Xbox with the old Duke controller," Moore said. "Sony's made some really good updates to the DualShock. When we got our hands on it and started playing, we were like, 'Holy crap, I think I've found my new favorite controller.'
"WHEN WE GOT OUR HANDS ON IT AND STARTED PLAYING, WE WERE LIKE, 'HOLY CRAP, I THINK I'VE FOUND MY NEW FAVORITE CONTROLLER.'"
"The first-person shooter genre being a genre that a lot of people buy their console for, the genre where you get your 15 million sellers, your 18 million sellers, your Call of Duty and Halo-type games," Moore said. "Those are the games that everyone puts their hands on, and if it doesn't make sense, you'll have a lot of disappointed fans out there. But we've done a lot of research to make sureBlacklight, even though we have different features, that people still feel comfortable in the game. They can pick up and play if they've played a previous game in the first-person genre, and they'll be able to figure it out really quickly and have a great time."
Shooting in Blacklight PS4 felt responsive, even though it used the DualShock's formerly maligned rear triggers. While the DualShock 3's squishy, convex inputs left a lot to be desired on the PS3 shooters which decided to use them for aiming and firing, the PS4's while still slightly analog do not disappoint. My demo was single-player, and the bots I was firing at didn't do much in the way of evasive maneuvering; the demo, Zombie explained, was to show E3 attendees what shooting guns on the new console feels like.
There's a lot we haven't seen from Blacklight: Retribution's PS4 port, but if demoing that one mechanic truly was Zombie's goal at E3, it succeeded with flying colors.