4 Things The DualShock 4 Brought To PlayStation

Here are four things the DualShock 4 brought to the PlayStation platform. With the PlayStation 5 and the DualSense on the way, it's worth it to celebrate the DualShock 4 and all the games that utilized its unique capabilities and features.

4 Things The DualShock 4 Brought To PlayStation

On the 7th of April 2020, Sony revealed that the DualSense would be the official controller of the PlayStation 5 and the successor to the DualShock 4. It makes several deviations from what PlayStation gamers have come to expect from PlayStation controllers. Some of the changes are small, such as the lack of space between shoulder buttons. Other changes such as the rounder shape are much more noticeable. The DualSense also brings a lot of technological innovations that promise to make gaming a far more immersive experience. Such innovations include the addition of adaptive triggers that will allow players to feel tension where performing actions such as drawing the string of a bow and arrow.

While the world eagerly anticipates the arrival of the PlayStation 5 and the DualSense controller, it is worthwhile to remember the legacy of the DualShock 4 and its predecessors, which have survived through four generations of gaming. The DualShock range of controllers made their debut on the original PlayStation. It was notable for its ability to provide vibration feedback through the two vibration motors encased within it.

PS5's Controller, the DualSense, Revealed - IGN Now

The DualShock 4, which made its first appearance on the PlayStation 4, is the latest and potentially last entry in this line of controllers which have endured for over a decade. It brought with it a host of positive changes while retaining the long handles and symmetrical design that gamers have come to expect from DualShocks. Below are 4 innovations that the DualShock 4 brought to PlayStation.


When the PlayStation 3 was released, the DualShock 2 was replaced with the Sixaxis controller. The controller was named as such because of its ability to detect movement in six directions. Amusingly, the word is also a palindrome. Although the Sixaxis was criticized for not featuring the rumble technology found in the DualShock 2, the inclusion of motion controls was a welcome addition. 

Vibration feedback was introduced to the PlayStation 3 through the DualShock 3 and this function made a return on the DualShock 4. Both controllers, fortunately, also retained motion controls. Thanks to the amount of time that has passed since motion controls first debuted on PlayStation, video games have gotten far better at implementing this input. Some games have applied motion controls in ways that are sparing yet still effective. For example, in The Last of Us Remastered, the DualShock 4 needs occasional shaking to ensure that Joel’s flashlight remains alive.

Player is prompted to shake the DualShock 4.

Player is prompted to shake the DualShock 4.

Motion controls are also used creatively in WipeOut Omega Collection, which contains remastered versions of WipeOut titles previously found on the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Vita. The games have players taking control of anti-gravity vehicles that race along futuristic tracks at hyperspeed. In WipeOut 2048, featured in the Omega Collection, vehicles can be steered using motion controls. This adds an additional layer of immersion to the experience. Most of us will have had the experience of playing racing games on older platforms, and turning our controllers to the side in a futile attempt to drift around a corner. With WipeOut 2048, your movements can actually have an effect on your vehicle.

High speed racing in WipeOut.

High speed racing in WipeOut.

Motion controls also come into play again in Death Stranding, where players are tasked with making deliveries in a post-apocalyptic world. Beings known as Beached Things (BTs) roam the land and can drag you to your death should they get a hold of you. Luckily, you have a baby named Lou, who is stored in a pod. He keeps you company during your deliveries and helps you detect any BTs around. Like any other baby, Lou cries when upset and must be soothed before he will quieten. This can be done by rocking the controller gently until Lou is finally giggling contently again.

Lu is floating in his pod.

Lou is floating in his pod.

Perhaps the best use of motion controls in the Eighth Generation can be found with Until Dawn, a PlayStation 4 exclusive that blends horror with choice-based gaming. A year after two sisters go missing, a group of friends decide to visit a cabin at the top of a snowy mountain for a reunion. There, they are hunted down by a mysterious force as they slowly unravel the evil secrets of the mountain.

Some quick thinking and a bit of luck will be necessary to ensure that all eight young adults survive until dawn. The most suspenseful moments of the game are those that require you to keep the controller perfectly still to avoid being detected. Even the slightest twitch could mean death.

DO... NOT... MOVE...


Although motion controls existed before, the DualShock 4 turned it from a gimmick to a valuable aspect of many games and, hopefully, paved the way for the DualSense to offer even more innovation.


One of the most welcome features the DualShock 4 brought to the DualShock range is the inclusion of a headphone jack. This made the use of headphones far more convenient, and several games took advantage of this. One of the most prominent examples is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

Hellblade tells the story of a woman named Senua who loses her lover after Norsemen pillage her village and sacrifice him. To save his soul, Senua embarks on an epic journey to Helheim. Senua is not an ordinary woman, however. She has voices in her head called Furies. Sometimes, these voices help Senua by warning her of incoming enemies. They can also be a source of fear and anxiety when they cast doubt on Senua’s worth and abilities.

Senua hears voices throughout gameplay.

Senua hears voices throughout gameplay.

Senua’s condition resembles what those suffering from schizophrenia might experience, and that is not a coincidence. Ninja Theory did extensive research to ensure that Senua’s experiences were an honest portrayal of what it is like to live with psychosis. This included consulting people who experience many of the psychotic symptoms displayed by Senua in Hellblade. Such thoroughness is necessary because mental illness is a topic that is very misunderstood and is shrouded with stigma and fear.

This experience is brought to players through the use of binaural audio, which is able to simulate three-dimensional space. Because of this, the best way to play Hellblade is with a good pair of headphones. However, what Hellblade offers is worth it. Constantly hearing voices from every direction as you try to solve environmental puzzles is an experience that is as frightening as it is immersive.

HELLBLADE Senua's Sacrifice - Opening / No Commentary

Fortunately, we can expect to see more innovation in the realm of sound with the PlayStation 5. This is thanks to the inclusion of the Tempest Engine, which will bring cutting-edge 3D audio to the next generation of gaming. Expectations are already high.


The touchpad is my favorite aspect of the DualShock 4, which is why it is so fortunate that it will stick around with the DualSense. It, as the name suggests, is touch sensitive and functions not unlike the second screen of the Nintendo 3DS or the rear panel of the PlayStation Vita. The touchpad has not received much use in games. When it is used, it often functions as a big button which brings up a menu or map.

Erica is an interactive movie game that makes extensive use of the touch aspects of the touchpad. The game tells the story of a young woman who finds herself entangled in a murder mystery following the death of her father. Her quest to discover the truth leads her on an adventure that uncover dark secrets about her parents. Dialogue options are chosen by using the touchpad to move a cursor on the screen. Swiping the touchpad is also necessary for various actions such as flicking on a lighter or dusting off various items.

In Erica, dialogue options are chosen using the DualShock 4's touchpad.

In Erica, dialogue options are chosen using the DualShock 4’s touchpad.

Some of the most interesting uses of the DualShock 4’s touchpad comes from Detroit: Become Human. Directed by David Cage, Detroit tells the story a future where androids are part of the labor force and can be founding doing everything from domestic work to dancing at strip clubs. When androids discover that they can bypass their programming and exercise freewill, a revolution begins.

Throughout the game, interactions with the environment are completed using the touchpad. These acts can be relatively mundane. For example, there are instances where the touchpad is used to flip the pages of a digital magazine or wash dishes.

Washing dishes using touchpad in Detroit: Become Human.

Washing dishes using touchpad in Detroit: Become Human.

It is also implemented in more interesting scenarios as seen in Markus’s narrative. Markus, who takes care of an elderly man, allows players to make use of the touchpad when he paints and when he plays the piano. While the DualShock 4 paved the way for touchpad controls on the PlayStation platform, I hope the DualSense expands on this feature in captivating ways.


The light bar is one of the more iconic features of the DualShock 4. On the original DualShock 4, the light bar was hard to see because it was on the side of the controller facing forward. However, this was remedied in later versions which allowed you to see the light bar through the touchpad.

The light bar is used by PlayStation VR to track the movements of players. While it has been criticized for its tendency to reflect on television screens and monitors, it gave the controller a futuristic feel that some (myself included) appreciated.

The light bar is creatively used in many games, oftentimes to convey information to players through color. For instance, in multiplayer games, the light bar can be color coded to differentiate players. Single player games also benefit from the light bar. It serves as a health indicator in many games, including the Resident Evil 2 remake where green, orange and red are used as codes for the different levels of health.

When Claire is hurt, the light bar will glow red.

When Claire is hurt, the light bar will glow red.

The most notable use of the light bar occurs in Grand Theft Auto V, where colors change according to which of the three protagonists is being controlled. More excitingly, the light bar will blink blue and red whenever police are on the pursuit, alerting players that the chase is on.

When Franklin in Grand Theft Auto V is being controlled, the light bar glows green.

When Franklin in Grand Theft Auto V is being controlled, the light bar glows green.

It appears that the DualShock 4’s light bar has changed position on the DualSense and will instead appear around the touchpad. Until the DualSense arrives, all we can do is wait. Fortunately we still have the DualShock 4 to give us many more memorable gaming moments.


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