So, as I wrote yesterday, I now have my hands on a brand new and shiny golden PS4. Does the fact that it’s golden do anything to enhance the console? Um, yeah, it’s gold! But no, nothing to enhance anything inside the console.
But I realized pretty quickly that there’s not much to say about the console itself. It plays games, and it does that well, at least with Horizon: Zero Dawn. But now that I’ve had more time to play with the Dualshock 4, I think I’m getting to understand what I like and don’t like about it.
First of all, there’s the golden controller that came with the console. It has the shiny golden front that seems to have a glossy texture that doesn’t seem easy to smudge, unlike the Wii U Pro Controller, which is definitely a good thing. The back of the controller, however, is butt-ugly. It’s like the ugliest shade of yellow that you could imagine. Regardless, it is very comfortable to hold, with the tiny bumps making it very hard for me to lose my grip in a way that might not have been guaranteed had the controller maintained the glossy golden texture throughout. And anyway, how many times am I really going to have to look at the back of the controller?
Moving on to features I assume are on all Dualshock 4's, there’s this very cool-looking blue light emitting from the back of the controller that intentionally leaks through the touchpad to create this very deluxe feeling with the controller. Glowy blue lights apparently mean “high-tech” to the human brain. I do worry however that this might detract from the battery life.
I was under the impression that the Dualshock 4 was a very standard controller, so I was surprised to find that there was a more elegant form of Wii U touch controls in the form of the “touchpad,” which functions largely the same way as a trackpad that you’d find in a laptop. I used it, more for the novelty of it than anything, to enter my information, but found that it was far too sensitive and that I often missed the letter I was trying to select. Perhaps there is a setting to adjust this, but at the very least the default setting should have been set to be far less sensitive. And while I’ve only played a few hours of one game, being Horizon: Zero Dawn, with it, I can’t imagine many titles making much use of it beyond a simple button. I will say, however, that the touchpad is a very satisfying button to press, and might be the largest button in the history of video game controllers. On the other hand, it makes me wonder how much of the high price for a Dualshock 4 is related to the touchpad.
Then there’s the placement of the buttons. I’ve played previous iterations of the PlayStation before, so I still have a little bit of muscle memory correlating to the buttons, but there’s always a learning curve when playing with unfamiliar buttons. However, I am very grateful for the fact that the PlayStation uses shapes for buttons instead of letters, with the exception of X. For some inexplicable reason, Nintendo and Xbox find the need to differentiate themselves by having the sets of both A and B, and X and Y swapped, so when I played Final Fantasy XV on Xbox One I kept on pressing the wrong buttons for the first 10 hours, only to have to retrain myself to press the right buttons with Breath of the Wild on Switch. The only problem the Dualshock 4 poses is the X, which is of course in a position different from both the Xbox and Nintendo controls just to be special. (Actually, it was Nintendo first with the SNES, then PlayStation with the original PlayStation, then Xbox with the original Xbox. But for me, it was DS, then PS2, then Xbox 360.)
But my biggest complaint with the Dualshock 4 is the placement of the left analog stick. I’m personally a fan of the Xbox One and Switch Pro controllers’ method of having the left analog stick on the top and the right analog stick on the bottom, so having the Wii U Pro controller have them both on the top and now the Dualshock 4 with both on the bottom is really jarring. I find it easier to adjust to than the button swaps, but I can’t help but feel that it could have been a lot more comfortable if the D-pad and left analog stick were swapped. I will say that the analog sticks themselves are nice and comfortable to move, which I thought was a given until using the Xbox One controller, which actually hurts my thumbs if I use it too much.
While writing this article, I discovered the the Dualshock has gyroscopic control, just like the Switch Pro controller. I am now shocked (like my pun?) to find that Horizon: Zero Dawn, a game in which shooting is integral to the gameplay, has zero (I’m on a roll!) gyro controls. WHAT?! I guess I’m just so used to Nintendo stuffing their gimmicks into every game they make that playing a game that doesn’t support a legitimate function that would have been incredibly useful is a completely alien concept to me, and it makes me angry. Long story short, I broke my PS4 in rage.*
All in all, the golden Dualshock 4 is probably the nicest-looking controller that I own. The button layout prevents the confusion that I get from switching between Nintendo and Xbox in a comfortable enough fashion that sadly under-utilizes its own functions in the consoles games. Nevertheless, it gets the job done and looks good doing it.
*Okay, I didn’t break my PS4 in rage. I did, however, give it a stern talking to.