Wednesday, April 16, 2014

PS4 Controllers

Last night I downloaded BroForce (I'm liking it so far, wish there were some custom options like playing a campaign as just one character, no switching.  It would be a nice challenge and would also allow me to get a feel for certain characters), fired it up, but my controller wouldn't work.

I normally use a wireless Xbox 360 controller with a USB dongle.  To be honest I'm not a fan of this setup, because the cord on the dongle is long, it's another thing I have to carry around, etc.  And it requires AA batteries, I have a few controller rechargeable packs, but they didn't work with my controller (I bought the specific Windows model).  Also the dongle is just one more thing that can break, which is exactly what happened.  I don't know what exactly is wrong but the dongle isn't lighting up anymore.  It is dead.

Well shit, do I go out and buy another one?  Hey, what about the Xbox One controller?  Oh, not compatible with my PC (says a handy MS page, but it doesn't tell me what criteria it uses.  Do I need Windows 8?  Surely their controllers don't use Bluetooth LE?).  I have two PS3 controllers here, but I've never been a fan of the Motion to Joy drivers.  Don't remember why, just have had a lot of problems with them.

Okay, what does that leave?  Well, it's kind of complicated.  While I'm sure Logitech or whoever makes great gamepads, the problem is the Xbox 360 controller has a distinct advantage on the PC.  You see, besides the feel of the 360 controller, which I prefer over the PS3 controller, the 360 has better software support. Not just in the Windows OS itself, but in games.  Many games are mapped for the 360.  You plug in a generic controller and the game doesn't know which button is which---they don't map out every controller on the market, do they?  Most games recognize the 360 controller, they have custom on-screen prompts for the 360 controller.  It's just easier all around.

Okay, well let's see how PS4 controllers are working in Windows.  Enter DS4Tool.  It's a wrapper that makes the PS4 controller show up as a 360 controller.  And it allows you to use the touchpad too. 

A brief aside: while using it, I was reminded of an old, old media center PC setup where I'd set up Xpadder to allow my 360 controller to register as a mouse, with the triggers as the right and left mouse buttons.  It was a little hard to use at times, but it worked okay for playing the next episode of whatever shows I was watching at the time.  I could see the PS4 controller working even better for this with it's touchpad.

There are some problems:
  • You have to launch the program every time you want to emulate the 360 controller. (no biggie)
  • If you don't tell it to hide the PS4 gamepad from Windows you can have some really messy gameplay moments as both profiles may fight for control (there was a very comical instance in BroForce where it detected two controllers, and when I hit a button it activated player two, who mirrored half of what player one did).
  • In order to hide the PS4 controller, no programs can be using it.  Steam constantly monitors your controllers, so you have to close it every time you start DS4Tool.
Also once, even though it claimed to be running successfully, it wasn't and I had to restart my computer to get it to work.  But regardless it's pretty cool.

I have to say, I'm really liking the PS4 controller.  Nice feel, no dongle, can charge it with the cord I already have on my for my phone.  And let's be honest, it's totally the controller Batman would use if he were a gamer.


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