So recently my girlfriend and I decided to plop down some cold, hard cash to get a PS4, largely because my PS3 is broken and we needed a new game console. It’s okay, so far. I love the free to play games on it. Anyway, before deciding to take the plunge on the PS4, I was actually looking at the Steam Controller which ExistentialEgg had done a review on earlier, breaking down stuff like gyro aiming when holding the left trigger and whatnot. As a PC gamer who loves using gamepads, it seemed like a dream come true for me, especially since I was a sucker for motion controls back on the Vita and PS3. That, and the track pad instead of an analogue stick seemed really tempting.

Though now that we’ve gone and spent money on a PS4, I didn’t have cash left over to buy me one of those Steam Controllers the internet is mixed in opinion on. So I guess I was stuck with this piece of crap instead, eh? More installing drivers from shady, ad-riddled, spyware filled softwares like MotionJoy and hoping my PC is compatible and having to fiddle with settings just for the basic functionality and all that good stuff.

Turns out, the PS4 controller actually did what I wanted to buy the Steam Controller for in the first place.

The Software for Running Dual Shock 4 is a Dream

My biggest surprise in this endeavour is downloading DS4Windows, the software which installs and manipulates the driver for using a PS4 controller on PC. I thought it was going to be another shady mess like MotionJoy, where I had to descend into the deepest bowels of the internet just to find it and navigate my way through pages that look like they were created by people who stuck random bits of HTML code on a wall and hoped it worked. The website was, actually, smooth, elegant, and pristine, and I had no trouble getting the software downloaded onto my computer and booted up.

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Even the installation process was practically automatic, only requiring minimal input from me, such as, you know, launching the program and pressing the big, fat install button in the center of the screen to pair my controller with the computer. I can’t vouch for how explicitly safe this is, but I was actually blown away by the fact that I didn’t need to be connected to the internet to do this, and that I didn’t get any advertisements like a certain other program *cough*MotionJoy*cough*.

This might look a little intimidating at first, but I assure you that most of this stuff is purely fine-tuning and not stuff you really need to concern yourself wit. Plus, a lot of it will actually make sense pretty quickly. It’s pretty much set up to emulate a 360 controller from the get-go, with the exception of the track pad which actually functions as a computer touchpad. All I needed to bump up was the sensitivity, really, and the whole thing was good to go. I also enabled Gyroscope so I can try playing Doom (I can’t run anything else on my computer) with motion controls, and even changed the controller’s light settings.

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One of the coolest feature this software has is that not only can you have multiple profiles on your device, but you can actually switch between them at any point in time without a hassle by merely swiping with two fingers across the track pad. And depending on your profile’s settings, even the light on the back will change to indicate what profile you’re running! It’s fantastic! I can switch from a mouse and keyboard only game with emulated M&K settings and go straight to playing an XBox controller enabled game without having to go back to DS4Windows and manually set it up. Plus, I made the light keep changing colour while charging, because why not?

It’ll stop functioning if you close it, but it minimizes by default to a nice little daemon at the corner of your screen.

It’s Pretty Solid in Action

So I tried Doom using the Gyroscope feature, but before we get to that, let me just say that this gamepad is totally functional as a XBox PC controller in every which way. It sits pretty comfortably in my hands, despite me finding the PS3 controllers generally very uncomfortable to hold because of the analogue sticks both being on the bottom, but something about the PS4 controller seems to fit.

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To add to that, the Dual Shock 4 hair trigger... triggers were inexplicably pleasant. For those who don’t know, while the PS4 does recognize ust how much you ended up pushing the trigger into the controller like the PS3 controller did, PS4 (and in this case, PC) games tend to just have the slightest push result in it being registered as a single button. On one hand, this does on occasionon have you accidentaly fire your gun when you had no intention of doing so. On the flip side, it’s a very soothing sensation; you can just tap it ever so slightly, and the Dual Shock 4 seems to be at the ready, as if trying to reassure you that the triggers are completely functional. And yes, this could be adjusted, too!

I did notice some problems, however.

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As much fun as it was to move the controller left and right to wildly flail my machine gun in game (and this only works if you’re holding the button you bound to activate gyroscope aiming), it does feel considerably... sticky. I’m not quite sure how else to put it. It’s like there’s a threshold you need to pass for it to actually move, and I can’t seem to adjust it any which way. Similarly, while the track pad is an improvement in that regard, it doesn’t seem to really give you the same amount of control as an actual PC touchpad for selecting anything (or aiming). It always jumps just off the mark, which can be frustrating, especially if you’re sniping in an FPS.

The other issue I found is that, while you can deactivate XInput (XBox Controller Emulation) and keep the controller’s DInput (standard controller settings, I assume) activated, you can’t seem to do this the other way around. For a vast majority of games that don’t truly recognize DInput, I don’t imagine this would be an issue, but for the few I played, such as BroForce, it’s... really silly.

Basically, the game recognizes the singular controller as two of them; one XInput and one DInput, and as a result has you commanding two figures at the same time. I got around this by creating a separate profile which only registers DInput instead of XInput, and so far it seems to work okay, but the button binding suddenly became all over the place. I’m not sure how it fares in other games. Not well, I imagine.

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In any case, it’s a pretty solid gamepad. All you need is some free software and a microUSB (and optional bluetooth adapter) and you’re good to go!

Has anybody else tried it? What are your experiences?