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Sony announced PlayStation 4 on Wednesday night but didn't actually show off the console. They did, however, unveil the official controller. The DualShock 4 builds upon the basic design of the DualShock 3 and has a number of fancy new features.
The DualShock 4 doesn't reinvent the wheel. It still has two dual analog sticks, four trigger buttons, four face buttons, and a directional pad. The controller still has six-axis motion control, too. Some buttons have been tweaked, slightly, though. For example, the analog sticks now have outer ridges and are said to be more precise. Furthermore, the L2/R2 buttons are more curved than they were on the DS3 controller.
The middle of the controller is dominated by a touchpad. Below that is a built-in speaker. The base of the controller has a headset jack. Sony says that the console will ship with a headset as well.
The "Select" and "Start" buttons are gone. The new "Options" button northwest of the face buttons performs the functions that these two buttons previously did. Combining "Select" and "Start" into one button allowed Sony to include a "Share" button.
The "Share" button opens up new social possibilities for gamers. They can stream their gameplay in real-time through Ustream, allowing other gamers to watch and comment. Furthermore, these spectators can help by giving the player special in-game items. The "Share" button also allows for easy uploading of images and videos through Facebook.
The crazy LED bar on the top of the controller has been explained by Sony as well. It can change colors so the player knows which character they are in multiplayer, or it can tell you if you've taken damage. A new peripheral, a dual camera, can track the 3D movement of the controller because of these lightbars.
I'm very glad that Sony didn't abandon the traditional DualShock design as rumored. It would have been silly, after all those years that the company spent refining it. I'm slightly concerned about the touchscreen making the controller too long but the gamepad looks a lot better than all the rumored mock-ups would've led me to believe.