Sony announced their PlayStation 4 this evening, but the only pieces of hardware we’ve actually seen are it’s latest generation of its iconic controller, the DualShock 4, and a new camera-based tracking peripheral.
The controller looks nearly identical to the one we’ve seen in leaked photos around the web lately, though there have been a few changes made to it. It features the usual face buttons, alongside a slightly modified directional pad (more on that in a bit), slightly modified triggers, slightly modified analog sticks, and a slightly modified design. It’s clear that this is an improvement and an evolution, not something brand new.
But that’s okay, because Sony has often paraded around their DualShock line of controllers as the best ones on the market, and millions of people agree. Sony has been pretty bold and changed nearly everything, but been reserved in knowing that what they have changed is incremental.
The obvious changes to the controller are the addition of a touch pad to the front of the device which provides for a new control experience when in the PlayStation 4’s user interface as well as in some games, if they support it.
Speaking of added grip, it actually appears as if the bottom shell of the controller features a grippy texture that is different from the smoother finish of the top shell. It wasn’t discussed, but we could see it in a closeup of the controller and really like this feature if it is indeed there. Gripping controllers has never been much of an issue with us, but controller feel is very important, and if Sony really nails the feel of the plastic, it may make us want to play a game for just a bit longer.
The directional pad no longer consists of four flat buttons, but rather buttons that concave at their centres so that you can decide to use them individually, or mash them together more simply. It’s a very small change, but something you’ll probably notice in games that require a lot more use of the d-pad.
The analog sticks have also been redesigned as speculated, and still feature a convex middle, but are raised around their edges for some added grip while playing.
The blue light we saw in the leaked controller images is indeed real, and has been dubbed the “light bar”. This bar is what makes it easy for the new camera peripheral to track your position in the room, though for what has not been made clear. It apparently also makes it easy to identify users’ controllers, meaning the bar will likely be able to emit different colours of light.
The other big features on the controller are the share button which works together with some cool software that integrates videos with Facebook and Ustream, as well as the options button which we assume will replace the start button. That’s right say goodbye to both the start and select buttons, as they’re nowhere to be found on this new controller.
A new camera peripheral was also announced (and very quickly glossed over) at the event, and it looks to feature two cameras for motion tracking. It looks like something that would be produced by a Kinect sensor and a surround sound bar should they hook up and make little technobabies. The new peripheral seems to be something independent of the actual console and doesn’t look to be required, and we’ll also guess that it will replace the PlayStation Eye that is required for Move controls, though these details haven’t been announced yet.
(Update: We’ve now learned that this camera peripheral is called the PlayStation 4 Eye. Take a look at the peripheral in more detail here.)
We assume these controllers are going to use Bluetooth for connectivity, and it appears we’ll be charging them as we have since the DualShock 3 days, via USB.
We’ll let you know more as we get it! Until then, feast on some beautiful shots of the controller just released by Sony!