Microsoft's next Xbox console dominated the news on Thursday when the company officially announced that it would reveal the Xbox 360 successor, rumored to be named "Xbox 720" or "Xbox Infinity," on Tuesday, May 21.
Perhaps feeling a bit ignored, Sony shot itself back into the news cycle on Thursday with a new video that shows off the features and functions of its new Dualshock 4 controller, which will come with the company's for the next PlayStation system, the PS4.
While the video is compelling and sexy, it really doesn’t reveal much about the controller that we didn’t already know. Perhaps most disappointing is that it only skims the surface of its many new features, which Sony had detailed at its PS4 event earlier this year.
In the video, members of the PS4 production team said they worked closely with developers to develop new features for the Dualshock 4 controller without departing too far from the spirit of the previous Dualshocks.
The appearance is mostly the same, with the dual joysticks, four directional buttons, four triggers and the four shape buttons. PlayStation’s senior vice president of product development, Scott Rohde, said everything about these classic features -- from the feel to the sensitivity -- has been fine-tuned.
The most prominent new feature of the Dualshock 4 is the new light bar, which glows blue at the front of the controller. The developers said that it has several functions, but really only explained one: the ability to track the controller’s position in a room.
“If the system sees that for some reason we’ve swapped places or I’ve passed the controller to someone, it can automatically adjust the ordering of the split screen so that it makes sense for everyone,” said Anton Mikhailov, a senior software engineer. He admits that this seems minor, but promised that is helps the “flow” of the game.
Rohde said the most important addition is the new touchpad on the controller, but the developers didn’t say why it’s important. All they said is that its comfortable to use your thumb or to flick. Seriously, that’s it.
There is also a new speaker on the controller, which Rohde said will add dynamic sound to games. But the feature the team seemed most proud of is the share button, which allows users to instantly create a video of gameplay and share on social networks.
“When you combine all of these features together, the controller really comes to life,” said Nicolas Doucet, a Sony producer.
We’ll see about that. Many have lamented the controller's new 'Share' button, saying an accidental push could totally disrupt gameplay, which could be devastating in an online death-match. This seems like a bit of an unwarranted concern, considering no one is exactly sure how the share feature will work. I personally agree with CNET, which noted that the button is in roughly the same location as the “select” button on previous controllers. I, for one, can never remember accidentally pushing it during gameplay.
Hopefully, Sony is planning on sharing more of what these new features can do at its PS4 event set for E3 in June. By then, we should expect to see some actual examples of the Dualshock 4 touchpad, light bar, speaker and share button being used in games.