The PlayStation 4 controller will improve the way you play games
The PlayStation 4 controller has earned positive reviews since I’ve first had a chance to use it, but having the hardware in my own with a selection of launch games has really driven home how much the controller has improved from the Dual Shock 3. These aren’t just cosmetic changes, but updates and features that will improve the way you play video games.
But let’s not discount the basic stuff. The controller feels wonderful when gripped, and my fingers naturally sat right where they need to be. It feels like it disappears in your hand, and remains comfortable even during long game play sessions. That’s the ideal.
The touch screen may seem silly, but using swiping movements to control your automated attack robot in Killzone feel natural, and this frees up the d-pad to be used for even more functions. The upside is that now you can have more interactions in a game, from basic touchscreen controls to simply using the pad as one giant button that you can push down. Expect certain games to get an extra layer of complexity due to these options.
The light on the “face” of the controller may seem silly, but it’s fun to be a dark room and have it flash red when you’re getting attacked. We’ve already discussed how some games are using it in nifty ways, but seeing it used as a health indicator in Killzone is pretty great. I turned the lights down to see the red light when I was close to death.
Still, if you’re not a big fan of things that glow, you’re going to be annoyed. You can adjust the volume on the controller’s built-in speaker and turn rumble on and off, but I haven’t seen an option to disable the light.
Let’s talk about that speaker for a second. We’ve heard the barely audible and muddy sound you get from Wii controllers, but this is something different. The speaker is clear and loud, although again you can adjust the volume, and certain games such as Resogun use the speaker to give you information about what’s going on in your game.
Killzone, once again a good way to demo the controller, also allows audio logs to be played through the speaker, so you can listen to the logs while in the regular game, hearing all the background music and sound, while also getting the voices from the controller. It’s another way to keep the game going while data is communicated to you.
You can hear the power from neon lights move from your screen to your hands as the sound grows from the speaker when you use your abilities, which is a fun way to add a bit of immersion. It’s all a bit gimmicky, but it works well. You can also connect headphones to the bottom of the controller if you want to listen to the game’s audio that way, which is a blessing for those of us who play while the kids are in bed.
Also, I'm going to save you some time, because I couldn't figure this shit out: You plug in your headphones, hold the PS button, and then select output all audio to the controller. You can also adjust the volume from this screen. It's ridiculously nice and easy to use… once you know where these options are.
Another non-publicized update is the motion controls, which are much more precise than the previous generations of controls. If you haven’t played Flower in a while, be sure to grab the game on the PlayStation 4 and give it a shot with the motion controls, they feel so much better than the PlayStation 3 version.
There are a few downsides here: the Share and Options buttons that are on either side of the touchscreen are hard to hit and sit nearly flush with the controller. They’re just not comfortable to push, and I found myself having to look down to find them, but the good news is that you won’t be using those buttons that often anyway. Still, it’s an annoying oversight.
Having used both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 controllers for a significant amount of time, I find the PlayStation 4 option much better. This is the best next-generation controller on the market.