The new controller is a new design finally. Sony tried to create a new design with the PS3, but they ended up with the famous banana looking controllers. People didn’t seem too fond of them, so Sony fell back on the good ole Dualshock design. This time Sony played it smart by redesigning the controller, but keeping same overall concept. With that being said the controller got wider and bulkier in your palms. I will say the design is nearly perfect, right down to the triggers on the back. Your hand naturally holds it so well, and the separation of analog sticks gets rid of the thumb issues with previous controllers.
The touchpad in the center of the controller works well, but overall seems off placed a bit. In order to fully use it, you need to remove a hand to press your finger on it. However the touchpad also makes up for a lost “start” button as it now becomes the button on its own. The “options” button to the side becomes the “select” most of the time. So far, none of the games I have utilize the touchpad control.
The controller boasts several new features for PlayStation gamers. The obvious new feature is the light on the controller. Anyone with a Move controller from PS4 will know what this is for. It adds depth to their PlayStation Eye. Sadly I’m broke after purchasing the PS4 so I don’t have an eye to test all the features out just yet. However there was one concern with the light, does it get in the way? The answer is no. I stated this back during E3 that the light meant nothing, but people wanted to know what about dark rooms. I turned the lights off and while my lap was somewhat glowing, it wasn’t glaring off the TV or taking my attention away. The top of the controller has a very slight curve to it, so in reality it actually hides the light from your view. It actually looks really neat watching other people hold the controller in dark rooms.
The next feature you may notice is that the controller now boasts sound. The controller has a built in speaker that will add various effects to games. In Resogun, the controller utilizes the speaker by having the in game voice talk to you through the controller. It’s a neat effect. Other games have very minimal effects so far, but you can see that its leading up to something awesome. The speaker is actually extremely loud, and can be adjusted from a menu by holding down the home button.
The coolest feature to the controller in my opinion is the ability to plug in any standard headphones to it, and then have all the sound from the game go through your headphones. I plugged in a set of Sony and Beatz and both worked amazingly well. There are a few drawbacks in terms of 5.1 sound etc, but it’s to be expected from this. You can adjust what sounds go through your headphones (such as people talking, or the entire game) and even adjust the volume output from the PS4. I honestly have been using this feature the most of all.
With all this being said about the controller, it is a great new experience to a long term PlayStation gamer. However there is one drawback to the controller, battery life. With the PS3 I could literally leave my controllers lying around for days, weeks if I hardly used them. I have been using my PS3 a lot lately playing some old Marvel games. I did a test just to see how long they last, so I charged it up before playing. My in-game time is so far sitting at over 3 hours, I also played GRID and Call of Duty, along with leaving my PS3 on for several hours a day, forcing my PS3 controller into stand by. The controller charge level is still at full.
With my PS4 controller, the story is entirely different. During launch weekend, I had already charged the controller 3 times by Monday. For some reason I’m getting stuck charging my PS4 controller after nearly every game session, with or without using headphones to play. I’m not sure what it is, perhaps the light, the touchpad, the audio, I don’t know. It dies extremely fast in comparison to the PS3 controllers, and it is something to get used to. During one session, all I did for several hours was utilize Music Unlimited. I had music playing for maybe 3 hours, and the controller was nearly dead when I went to play a game. I would highly recommend a second controller, or at least a charging dock.
Overall though, Sony figured out how to improve the controller without alienating old fans of the Dualshock. It adds a lot of new features for gamers, and is a great comfortable experience. I would highly recommend trying one out before jumping to standard complaints PS3 controllers get.