Fixed that for you: DualShock 4

Everything that still drives us crazy about the PlayStation 4’s awesome new controller.
Sony DualShock 4
Sony DualShock 4 © Sony Computer Entertainment
By Jon Partridge

With the new generation of consoles there comes a new wave of controllers too, and the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 is arguably the most feature-packed of the lot, even if it doesn’t have a screen like the Nintendo Wii U’s gamepad. It even works with your PC, and the tiny PlayStation TV too. With its curved frame and thin handles it’s the best Sony pad to date, but more than a year on from launch there are still a few teething issues that could be tweaked to make it the best game controller ever. Join us as we run through what drives us crazy about Sony’s latest pad, and how we’d fix it to make the perfect controller.

That touchpad

Sony’s latest DualShock 4 is the most radical redesign of the famed controller, and it introduces a new way for you to interact with games too. Just like how each version of DualShock brought in new features, Sony’s newest pad owes a little inspiration to the PlayStation Vita handheld, as it’s been granted a touchpad on the face of the controller. That also means saying goodbye to the long-lasting Start and Select buttons, and hello to a new 2.24-inch piece of plastic that tracks your finger. But, it’s kind of awkward to use. It’s laggy and inaccurate, it’s frustrating to use and its resolution doesn’t fully match up to the games in play – it only packs in a 1920 x 900 surface area. For pointing tasks, we’d rather have a mouse, and a return of Start and Select – and below the the pad as well, not to the side of it.

Can we turn the lights off?

So you’re playing Alien: Isolation. You’ve got the lights off in your room, and you’re making your way through the Sevastopol with your eyes focused on the TV. Your motion tracker slowly shows you something moving as you creep into the dark, but all you can see is a blue glow on your screen. Your tracker gets more frantic and frantic, until all of a sudden, the Alien lunges at you, popping through the blue, and all you see is a Game Over screen. The light bar on your controller has just caused you to die horribly, which stings all the more seeing as you can’t even turn it off. That’s not good if your TV’s glossy and you like to play in the dark, as all you’ll see is its reflection. Sure, the PS4’s 1.70 firmware let you dim it, but it’s not perfect. Let’s get an off switch, Sony?

Sony DualShock 4
Sony DualShock 4 © Sony Computer Entertainment

A bigger battery would be nice

Unlike its predecessor, which can get up to a huge 30 hours of playtime before needing a recharge, you’ll be lucky if you’re able to squeeze 10 out of your DualShock 4. If the lightbar has anything to do with the abysmal battery life, we definitely want to shut it off. And as it also packs in a built-in battery, you can’t simply pop in a fresh pair of AA batteries like the Xbox One pad to give it more juice, meaning you’ll have to be tethered to your console to get a bit more play time – and that also means buying some extra long cables if your PS4 is located on the other side of the room. Try not to trip up.

Squeaky and sticky triggers

Ergonomics have come a long way since the NES’ brick-like pad. Sony has made its latest gamepad a heck of a load more comfortable in the hands, and its triggers are a vast improvement too – but there’s still something off with them this time around. We’ve seen trigger hinges completely snap during play, while the R1 and L1 buttons often get stuck, which isn’t ideal during games of Call of Duty or FIFA. The R2 and L2 triggers can also be fairly squeaky too, which can get annoying if you’re very trigger happy in your favourite shooters – we’re not too keen on hearing a high-pitched wail while trying to nail a headshot in Destiny.

We feel like we need longer thumbs

The touchpad is not the only new addition to the DualShock 4: Share and Option buttons have popped up too, replacing the faithful Start and Select. The only problem with them though is that they’re right at the top of the pad’s face, requiring either giant-like thumbs to reach them or an awkward spider-like hand manoeuvre to tap them. As much as we love sharing screenshots and videos with our mates, we think it’d be easier if the button was easier to hit. Reaching up for the Option button every time you need to change your armour, check the map or save your game in Dragon Age: Inquisition is a real chore too.

Our launch controller’s analogue sticks are beyond repair

If you picked up your PS4 at launch, you might be wondering why your analogue sticks are looking worse for wear. That’s because many controllers came out of the box with a less-than-stellar rubber coating that would wear away after some use, and your PS4 pad might be victim too. The good news is that it seems Sony has fixed it on its latest batch of pads, but if you’ve got an early controller, you might want to see if you can get yours replaced – that or pipe down on the FIFA.

What would you change in Sony’s controller? Tell us in the comments below.

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