The PlayStation 4 controller has been leaked. Going by the controller (looking like it was designed by a MadCatz junior assistant on his first day) it is still a very early prototype. There are many details that we can squeeze out of this leak however to share with you how the next generation controller may influence our experience.
The light bar at the top of the controller can only be the Move controller integrated into the DualShock. Despite me claiming that motion controls should be avoided in my last opinion piece, the idea to put the Move into the main controller is inspired. Rather than making people buy two separate controllers and choose to use either one, Sony has opted to let you use motion on the fly. However, anyone remember the way that SixAxis was integrated with the PlayStation 3? It died a slow, agonizing death. Sony will not make the mistake of under utilizing the Move. The fact that they seem to have used motion at launch shows they are determined to make it big. I don’t like motion controls so far, but this suggests a serious change in strategy.
The front-facing touch pad is a wildcard from Sony. The Vita used a backwards-facing touch pad and it seemed to work well from what I saw, though like motion controls, were not necessary. The in-your-face approach to the touch pad on the PlayStation 4 seems to show that Sony have something substantial to use this with. In my opinion this would cater to a Photoshop-esque app for editing but Sony need to focus all their efforts on their most die-hard fans. They should use the touch pad to edit video recording and screenshots. To be able to change size, length and fidelity of your kills to share with the world would be a great feature. Other uses for the touch pad could include navigation of menus, a Blu Ray remote, or even puzzle solving in a game.
The new analog sticks shown in the picture prove that Sony has learnt its lesson from this generation’s controller. The DualShock 3′s sticks were slip inducing and were hard to hold on to if you were trying to frantically sprint around a battlefield. The new versions look to have more grip with a concave design similar to the Xbox. In addition to this, the shoulder buttons look different and, while we don’t have a great angle to work with, we can assume Sony have changed the shoulder buttons in response to the criticisms of the triggers in the past.
The speaker on the controller really interests me. This could be a way of communicating without a headset with both input and output available, a feature that can be used in-game such as talking to characters using on-screen prompts, shouting commands or just communication with the console itself (think Kinect-like integration). Not only this but to communicate with friends as cross-game chat was a major feature of this generation and Sony missed a step by preventing the console from being able to promote it. If you want a good old headset however, the controller comes with what looks to be a headphone jack at the base of the controller, which could again suggest more of a focus on cross-game chat.
An interesting feature it a small button to the top left of the touch pad. It is hard to see but once you notice it, it stands out like a sore thumb. Could this be the share button that has been suggested by sources recently? Obviously as there is no writing to confirm the purpose of the button (like the Select and Start buttons on DualShock 3) we cannot be sure till the full details are released.
Roll on 20th of February!