One of the more intriguing features of the DualShock 4 controller for the PlayStation 4 is the incorporation of a built-in touchpad. We’ve already learned that it will be used in Killzone: Shadow Fall to allow you to access to the OWL Drone, but it was more recently revealed that Sucker Punch will also be taking advantage of it in the upcoming inFamous: Second Son. A video (embedded below) released recently showed members of the development team talking about the new controller, including showing some of the touch functionality, while a Gamescom interview between Polygon and the game’s director, Nate Fox, went into greater detail about the ideas behind the utilisation:
“You have these big moves, bread and butter awesome gameplay things; that’s joystick and button territory. But when we wanted to do something a bit more subtle, something that’s a bit more personal, we go to the touchpad because there’s a fidelity of control. Frankly, it’s a good change of pace. It kind of resets you on the bigger things. That’s kind of how we draw the line on when we do the touchpad and when we go for huge effects.”
One of the examples noted by Polygon within the hands-on demo was the need to press the touchpad at either end in order to strangle an enemy while in stealth mode, and another was the requirement of running one’s finger across the pad in order to simulate putting the character’s hand against a scanner. Fox elaborated on the statement of the touchpad being a more personal interface by talking about how it increases the number of “verbs” that the player can perform:
“When you’re making a game, you’re trying to make a lot of verbs; that’s the word we use. I can jump, I can blast — doing something small, like in the demo the other day, Delsin having his DNA scanned; we use the touchpad to recreate that verb of ‘finger scan’ that the player gets to experience, and bring themselves closer into being Delsin. It’s something we can’t do unless we have a new method for allowing you to be that verb.”
It really is an interesting way to go about things as use of the touchpad seems downplayed in the grand scheme of the controls, but still manage to subtly enhance what players are capable of. We haven’t seen many uses of the functionality yet, but it seems as though its inclusion could have been a brilliant move on the part of Sony. Of course we won’t know for certain until we go hands-on and see just how well it works and how widely it is used. After all, Sixaxis functionality seemed like a good idea too, and that didn’t turn out too well.
inFamous: Second Son launches in February 2014, exclusively for the PS4.