The DualShock 4 has a lot of underutilized features that need to be carried over.
It’s really easy to forget some of the cooler functions the DualShock 4 has, simply because most games don’t use them. The DualShock 4 has a very cool touchpad—most games barely seem to use it beyond a glorified menu or map button, if that. The DualShock 4 has a gyroscope and accelerometer. Most games barely use it on the PS4. The DualShock 4 has that LED lamp, which… okay, that one is super annoying, actually, and hard to forget about, because you can’t even turn it off.
But those features are there. They are largely unused, out of some VR games that put them to great use (such as Astro Bot: Rescue Mission), but they do exist. The question is, should they be retained in the DualShock 5 (or whatever the PlayStation 5 controller is inevitably called) given how low their usage is?
The basic answer to this question is, yes. In fact, there’s absolutely no reason to have a position other than “yes” for this question, but let’s look at the many reasons why Sony should retain the Touchpad and the motion controls and even that annoying LED light for the DualShock 5.
Unless the PS5 is allowed to connect to PS4 controllers (which it might not be—the PS4 can’t connect to DualShock 3, even though it can connect to PS Move. There is no technical limitation for this either, it’s just an arbitrary restriction), Sony needs to include every possible input on the DualShock 4 in the DualShock 5 for the purpose of backward compatibility, which at this point we can expect will be included on the PS5. Even games that only cursorily utilize these features will run into compatibility issues on the PS5 unless they have access to the inputs to begin with.
Maybe Sony ensures that any games made for the PSVR2, or whatever the PSVR accessory for the PS5 ends up being called, aren’t designed around the DualShock 4, but in the here and now, we have multiple VR games that are designed around the DualShock 4, and in fact can only be played with it. Games such as Resident Evil 7 can only be played with DualShock 4, while a game like Astro Bot is explicitly designed around the controller’s capabilities, specifically touchpad and LED light. Unless Sony wants to break compatibility with these games on the PS5, DualShock 5 would have to retain these inputs.
They’re Just Options, And They Don’t Hurt
This is the big thing here—the gyroscope and the touchpad are just options. They don’t hurt anyone. At worst, if they’re not used, they’re just there, completely unobtrusive. The touchpad can end up acting as additional buttons for developers to map to, and the gyro can be completely disabled. There’s literally no reason to remove either feature. No, they don’t add to the cost of the controller—the DualShock 4 costs as much as the DualShock 3, and as much as the DualShock 2, and those controllers lacked one or both of those features respectively. The cost of the controller doesn’t rise because of those features. And no, they don’t hurt battery life either. Okay, the LED light does, but that’s more because you can’t turn it off. If you had the option to disable it completely (like you do with the touchpad and the gyroscope), then even that wouldn’t be an issue. There are literally no grounds to argue against the inclusion of these features.
Sony needs to do a far better job of supporting both features in their games
But this brings us to the next point—Sony needs to do a better job of actually supporting these features. And I don’t just mean by making them cool gimmicky ways to input text on the system UI—I mean that they literally need to support these features better in their own games. Third parties follow a platform holder’s lead, since what a platform holder does is what establishes a community on a platform. If Sony doesn’t implement gyro controls or touchpad support in their games, why would third parties?
For evidence, consider the case of Paladins. The game recently got gyro aiming enabled on the Switch version. This happened because the Switch community actively demanded for gyro aiming to be available as an option. They in turn demanded that option because first party games such as Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2 support this feature. Since that set an expectation for gyro aiming to be supported as an option, third party games such as Paladins, DOOM, and Fortnite have all enabled this option for their Switch version. And yet, in spite of the fact that the DualShock 4 has a gyroscope built right in, they haven’t done the same for the PS4 version.
It would cost them nothing, since the work to develop the feature is done. It would cost nothing for the players, since only those who want to use it would enable the feature. But because there’s no expectation of the feature on PS4, third parties don’t deliver on it. In such a scenario, of course features like the gyroscope and the touch pad will go under utilized. Sony themselves don’t seem to care about either of them—so why should third parties?
DualShock 5 should have everything on the DualShock 4, and more
We don’t yet know what form the DualShock 5 will take, but I hope it will be very similar to DualShock 4. The DualShock 4 is a great controller—the shape and ergonomics are great, and it is very feature rich. The low battery life is an issue, but one that’s will be hopefully countered by allowing us to turn the light off on the next controller. But that apart, I hope the DualShock 5 retains everything the DualShock 4 has—the same buttons and triggers and bumpers and sticks as always, but also the Share Button, the touch pad, the Sixaxis motion capability, and then add on top of that something new, such as paddles for additional control. Make it the perfect, ultimate controller. The PS5 will probably be the home for some of the most sophisticated games ever made. No reason the controller can’t be the most sophisticated one ever as well either.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.