Motion controls were a big part of the previous generation, but they carried a bad reputation into the PlayStation 4 era. While the Nintendo Wii was massively successful at first, its sales plummeted once it had peaked, as players realised that pack-in Wii Sports had already extracted much of its potential. Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect followed a similar trajectory, posting insane numbers at launch – only for it to be removed entirely from the Xbox One experience and brushed under the bed.
But while the perception of motion controls is generally quite poor, that doesn’t mean they’re universally bad. With the PlayStation Vita, for example, Sony stumbled upon a pretty smart mechanic to compensate for the handheld’s teensy-tiny analogue sticks: gyro aiming. In games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Gravity Rush, you’re able to finetune your targeting by tilting the system, and it works a treat.
For those who haven’t tried it, it’s best described as an assistance mechanic. In the aforementioned games, you still primarily aim with the right analogue stick as you would in any other game – but you can adjust your target slightly by tilting the device in the desired direction. It provides you with an alarming degree of precision, and it’s a tactile mechanic that’s satisfying to use, too. It’s a system that’s since made its way to Nintendo Switch in titles such as Splatoon and DOOM.
But why not the PlayStation 4, too? The gyroscopes in the DualShock 4 may be underutilised, but they’re alarmingly accurate, as PlayStation VR demonstrates. The precision here is much better than, say, the original Wii Remote – and it certainly shouldn’t be compared to the PlayStation 3’s dreadful SIXAXIS technology, which was rushed and unresponsive.
There are actually a couple of games on the PS4 that already employ gyro aiming: Gravity Rush 2 built upon the mechanics of its portable predecessor, while Sony Bend patched in the feature to Days Gone after originally inventing it for Uncharted: Golden Abyss. In both cases, the mechanic works just as well on the big screen as it does on a handheld, allowing you to make large sweeping movements with the right analogue stick and little adjustments with the motion controls.
While we’re not programmers, we’re going to assume that this isn’t a particularly difficult option to incorporate. And the reality is that it improves practically every game with an aiming mechanic. Obviously there are accessibility concerns to consider, so we’re not saying that all games should enforce gyro aiming – but as an option, why don’t more titles include it? It’s a small feature in the grand scheme of things, but one that can make titles infinitely more tactile to play.
Are you a fan of gyro aiming? Do you think more PS4 games should leverage it? Finetune your aim and fire your thoughts in the comments section below.