The design sports a gentle outwards tilt that catches the bend of each finger, narrowing to a finer point. It's difficult to eulogize the effectiveness of this approach; while not quite a full hook in the style of the rival pad's, it works wonderfully well in securing each finger, and the tension needed to drive it down once again feels equitable to Microsoft's solution.
Tightened dead-zones make games like DriveClub eminently easier to control, but the bigger change here is in the friction of the sticks - increased to bring it closer to the pressure needed on the Xbox One's. The old PS3 sticks with their convex grips are often criticized for feeling a little too delicate in travel
Overall, it's striking how similar both controllers feel in this department, as if the houses of PlayStation and Xbox both independently honed in on the very same sweet-spot for grip and required pressure.
Looking to the buttons, the Dual Shock 4 boasts a more tightly packed d-pad than usual, using a silkier matte texture that tapers off towards the center point.
On the right side of the pad, the 8-bit precision analogue face buttons of the last controller are swapped out for digital versions, largely due to their lack of practical use in games, but also to improve communication speeds with the PS4 console.
It's clickable like a regular laptop mouse pad, and even light touches to its surface are quick in response - in theory, an RTS game based around pinch-to-zoom and panning gestures could find a comfortable home on the platform in future.
Dual Shock 4 and the Xbox One controller: the preliminary verdict
All in all, both Microsoft and Sony have clearly taken note of the shortfalls in their current-gen controllers and make amends without over-stepping the mark - inevitably arriving at a similar middle-point in ergonomic design. Microsoft is no stranger to the process of evolving its pad design with every generation, going from the mighty Duke on the original Xbox, to a minimised S version which formed a basis for the more streamlined 360 pad. The Xbox One continues that tradition of refinement with gentle tweaks across the board - plus the addition of rumble features which make a surprising difference - though the result is one that should be warmly familiar to existing Xbox fans.
Meanwhile, Sony's DualShock 4 shows a more radical departure from the Dual Shock form factor it's held onto for the last three generations. With the revelation that neither the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One offer compatibility for current-gen pads, it's just as well that these new controllers bring enough incremental tweaks to every facet of their designs, each adding up to a broader sense of overall improvement than we'd expected going in. Certainly, controller comfort will always be a strict matter of personal taste, but between the two, the balance between conservation and evolution has been judged with care.