Talking Point: Do the PS4 Controller's Gimmicks Add Anything Worthwhile?
Posted by Sammy Barker
Bright like a touch light
You’ve (hopefully) had the PlayStation 4 in your home for a few weeks now, meaning that you’ve had ample opportunity to test out all of the devices features and functions. We’ve already polled you on your overall impressions of the device, its social capabilities, and more – but now we’re turning our attention to the DualShock 4’s various gadgets and gizmos. Do extras such as the touchpad and light bar actually add anything to your experience, or are they just a waste of resources?
Controllers don’t come cheap for Sony’s next generation console. A standard piano black peripheral from Amazon will cost you £49.99 and $59.99 in the UK and North America respectively, with the European exclusive Magma Red and Wave Blue options retailing for an extortionate £69.99 ($115). We daresay that the high prices can primarily be attributed to the platform holder (and retailers) trying to recoup losses on the system itself, but it’s also clear that the handset is packing some serious technology under the hood. The abovementioned illuminated strip and sensitive surface clearly add costs to the unit’s manufacture over the DualShock 3. The question is: are they worth it?
It was hard not giggle earlier this week when Square Enix flaunted Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition’s unique features on the PS4. The publisher mentioned that the controller will flicker orange and red when protagonist Lara Croft employs her torch – a clever but completely unnecessary utilisation of the light bar. Killzone: Shadow Fall employs it to display your health, while Need for Speed: Rivals opts to switch hue depending on your chosen faction. Other than that, though, the feature’s uses seem fairly scant. Granted, on-board augmented reality application The Playroom fuses the camera with the coloured panel in order to offer some PlayStation Move-esque motion tracking – but how many developers are truly likely to take advantage of this in the future?
The touchpad is in a similar predicament. Pinching to adapt the zoom on Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’s colossal map makes sense, while the OWL works great in Guerrilla Games’ abovementioned first-person shooter – but we’re yet to see many other more meaningful uses just yet. The overpriced high-definition port of smartphone smash hit Angry Birds: Star Wars seems like the type of title that would benefit from the responsive rectangle, but our review pointed out that the traditional analogue stick offered a much more reliable method of control. If not even games designed around tablet touch screens are making the transition, then what purpose does it serve other than as a giant replacement for the absent select button?
Admittedly, there are advantages to some of the DualShock 4’s other gimmicks. The enhanced motion sensor, for example, has enabled the platform holder to improve greatly upon thatgamecompany’s already exceptional botanical excursion flower, while the added rumble motors feel fantastic in almost all of the next generation console’s launch games. Furthermore, it’s still early days, and there may be some titles in production that prove the value of all of these added features. The upcoming Thief, for example, employs the illuminating panel as a means to provide feedback on whether you’re in the shadows or not. Played in the dark, this will augment an additional layer of immersion in the stealth game.
However, we’ve been waiting almost two years for valuable uses of some of the Vita’s various functions to emerge, and outside of Tearaway, very few games have actually used them in interesting ways. With the light bar sapping controller battery, we think that Sony should at least incorporate an option to turn it off at a system level. But with these features embedded into the DualShock 4 for the rest of the generation, did the platform holder make the right decision by including them in the first place?
What are your favourite implementations of the PS4 controller’s gimmicks so far? Are you getting frustrated by the light bar? Have you thought of any interesting ways in which the features could be used? Do you wish that the manufacturer would have just kept things simple? Illuminate us in the comments section below.
Do you wish the DualShock 4's light bar could be turned off? (76 votes)
Yes, it drains the battery and creates glare
Meh, I don’t actually care
No, it really doesn’t bother me much at all
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Would you like the controller's touchpad to be used a bit more? (74 votes)
Yes, I think it has plenty of potential
Hmm, I’m not fussed either way
No, I’d rather just stick with buttons
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