PlayStation 4 really is an amazing piece of hardware. Its performance is great and the gaming possibilities are only starting to be explored. Among its most interesting features is one specific part that really needs a lot more of attention: the DualShock 4.
To be fair, the PlayStation 4 is still waiting to have a decent amount of exclusive games. While the number made for the latest Sony console keeps growing there are many titles aiming for PlayStation 3 and other platforms as well. This definitely hinders the complete leverage of what is one of the best gaming controllers available. There are, however, several games which have already been using some of the controller’s features with pretty amazing results.
Oh My God, a Light Bar
The first thing you probably noticed about the DualShock 4 is its light bar. Besides changing colors according to which player number you are, some games have found out very interesting ways of using these built-in LEDs to enhance the gaming experience.
As you may very well know, Grand Theft Auto V’s story is focused on three different characters. Each one of them has a specific color assigned, which not only is shown in the game’s HUD but also affects the DualShock 4’s light bar. It may not be that useful, but it does feel great and helps with the whole immersion process. Additionally, when you are being chased by the police, the light bar flashes red and blue which too freaking cool.
There are other possible uses for the DualShock 4’s light bar that go a bit further. For instance, if you were playing Dying Light in the dark, turning your flashlight on in the game increased the light bar’s intensity. This example, as simple as it seems, goes a long way when it comes to getting players into the game’s situation.
Of course these are just a few examples of how the PlayStation 4’s controller can be used for turning your own living room into the world you are playing in. Even though they may not be game-changing features they really add a lot to the overall gaming experience.
Your Controller Can Speak… Sort Of
The DualShock 4 controller has a built-in speaker for two main purposes. First of all it’s meant to work as a way of communicating with other players (by using the console’s headset). It also has other awesome uses while enjoying single-player games. Much in the same way as the light bar, the DualShock 4 speaker has been used to enhance the gaming experience. In this case, however, it’s a lot more effective.
Take Dying Light, for instance. In addition to the general sounds and music coming out of your TV (or whatever sound system you have installed), your controller speaker adds radio communications and even loot sounds. Once again, it may not be a lot, but it sure helps getting an increased feel of the things you do in a game.
In the same line, Grand Theft Auto V also uses the controller speaker for story-related phone conversations and police radio chatter. Another cool example can be found in Dead Nation: when switching weapons, a voice tells players which one they are using currently. This is no small trick since having zombies coming at you in huge numbers doesn’t give you a lot of breathing time.
Shake It like It’s Hot
Just like its predecessor, DualShock 4 has a three-axis gyroscope and a three-axis accelerometer, which allows for accurate motion detection. Funny thing is that it seems we still don’t really know how to use it. Especially now that it works better than ever before. And Journey managed to figure it out on the PS3.
Think about one of the most uncomfortable things about console controllers: aiming in first-person-shooters with the sticks. Even though you may be used to it, and even be good at it, it will probably never be as accurate as using a mouse or a more precise motion-sensing device. With the DualShock 4 this could easily change. Leaving actual technical specs aside, it’s not hard to imagine games in which aiming your guns could be done by simply moving your controller.
Additionally, the motion detection can be greatly leveraged with vehicle simulators. Imagine how much more comfortable it can be to fly aeroplanes and helicopters, or even drive a car by just moving your DualShock 4 around.
Some of these things have already been tried, not only with the DualShock 3 but also with the PlayStation 4. Grand Theft Auto V has some of these features available. The equation is pretty simple: If using a gyroscope for driving works pretty well with an iPad, why wouldn’t a gaming-specific piece of engineering be better?
That Thing Is a Touchpad Too
The touchpad is a really big addition to the DualShock 4. It works both as a pad and as a button, which widely expands the controller’s options. Nonetheless, it hasn’t been used as much as it should. Frankly, this is one of the most underused capabilities the DualShock 4 features.
As of now, uses remain really basic and don’t really live up to the promise. A few shy examples beyond using the touchpad’s button can be found in games such as Grand Theft Auto V, Killzone Shadow Fall and Infamous Second Son. However, these options are limited to switching weapons, throwing grenades, changing cameras, and giving companion orders and other minor functionalities.
Let’s go back to the difficulties of aiming we used above. In Grand Theft Auto V, several missions include headshots as a requisite for getting a 100% score. Even using the game’s auto-aim, this can become very annoying. If the touchpad could be used for this results could be much sharper.The distance between the stick and the touchpad in the DualShock 4 makes it completely possible.
The touchpad should also be available for navigating the very own PlayStation menu, as well as the browser and every text input screen (which weirdly can only be done in a few games). Even though it’s 2015, writing on consoles is still a pain.
Showing Off Is Easy
The incredibly useful Share button is another huge addition to the DualShock controller. Sharing stuff has never been easier. Either recording gameplay videos or getting cool screenshots requires the least amount of effort. Moreover, PlayStation 4’s relatively recent Youtube integration has given every player a huge amount of versatility.
This doesn’t only translate to showing off how good of a player you are, or what an awesome game you are playing at a given time; it actually allows a wide array of creations. Take Ashley Gilbertson’s The Last of Us Remastered pictures: it’s really hard to deny the artistic value of his job and it’s pretty obvious the Share button made this possible. This new PlayStation 4 feature is what allowed the game’s photo mode in the first place. Additionally, besides artsy efforts, that lovely button is also perfect for making guides, memes, animated gifs and any other thing the internet’s infinite creativity can come up with.
There’s a lot more to be done around the DualShock 4’s Share button, like adding other social networks or deepening the sharing configuration options but this is a feature pretty well implemented. The button is extremely well located and is becoming increasingly important.
The DualShock 4 has introduced or improved several features. PlayStation 4 owners have a pretty awesome piece of hardware that, even though has been utilized to some extent, is capable of even more amazing things.
The main thing holding the DualShock 4 back is the lack of PlayStation 4 exclusives, which means games are not designed specifically for its controller. Besides that, it’s a pretty new console, which means devs are still adapting and figuring out the (marketable) possibilities.
The good news is that some games are already looking to improve the way players use the DualShock 4 controller. Looking at the upcoming Sony game Tearaway Unfolded is a great example of this. This new title takes the controller’s integration to the game to a new level, making players become an integral part of the action. Pretty much everything said above will be used in many new and amazing ways as shown in the demo video below.
PlayStation 4 is just getting started and we are bound to get a lot more than just top-notch gaming performance. The latest Sony console has a lot to offer when it comes to improving and even changing the whole gaming experience, and that’s something to look forward to. At least until VR comes, anyway.