Xbox One controller vs. DualShock 4: which is better for PC gaming?

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There are a lot of choices for PC controllers—Razer’s Sabertooth, for instance—but the majority of the games we play with controllers were designed for the Xbox One, PS4, or both, and their standard controllers are well-made. That in mind, we’ve compared the two first-party console pads before considering the others (which is on our to-do list).

Also, Halloween is this week, so look, they’ve popped out of a coffin! (Thanks, camera-wielding Scout.) We’re definitely not saying that the consoles awake at night to feed on the blood of the living, we just think you should decide for yourself. Also, I played a bit of Lords of the Fallen and Ultra Street Fighter IV (as Evil Ryu, obviously) in my testing, as well as many other games over the course of the past year.

Xbox One controller

The $ 60/£35 Xbox One controller is easy to set up. If you have a wireless Xbox One controller lying around, you just need to find yourself a long micro USB cable. (Be warned that not all micro USB cables are the same—some are designed solely to charge cell phones and won’t work.) If you buy the silly ‘PC’ version releasing next month, you’re set, as it comes with a micro USB cable. That’s the only difference I’m aware of between it and a regular Xbox One controller. I would have much preferred a wireless dongle, but this is what Microsoft is releasing.

Plug it in, and the controller should vibrate. That’s it, it works. If it doesn’t vibrate, you either have a bad cable or the driver isn’t installed. If the latter is the case, you can download it here. I had no problem installing it, and aside from the time I spent scrounging around the office for a cable, set-up was painless.

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How it feels

The Xbox One controller is bigger and heavier than the DualShock 4, with offset analog sticks which I prefer to Sony’s symmetrical design. That’s because for most of the games I play, my right thumb spends a lot of its time on the face buttons (moving down for camera control sometimes), while my left thumb is almost always on the analog stick to control movement. I find the higher part of the controller more comfortable for my thumbs—it’s where they naturally rest—so I prefer the raised left stick. If you play a lot of fighters or platformers with the D-pad, you may prefer Sony’s layout.

The rest of this reiterates what we’ve said in our review: it’s a good controller. The matte black plastic is lightly textured and feels nice, though sweat does cling to it. The trigger buttons are nice and springy (a little bit mushy-feeling), while the bumpers have a satisfying click. The D-pad is also clicky, which is much better than that spongy Xbox 360 D-pad. That thing was gross. I like the analog sticks as well: they move smoothly, and firmly snap back to center when released. I do wonder why they’re so small, but it’s not a huge deal, as my thumbs rest in their bowls nicely and they feel sturdy.

The Xbone controller is well-made, and I like it more than the Xbox 360 controller. It also helps its case that recent multi-platform games I’ve played are based on the Xbox 360 or Xbox One version (e.g. Ryse: Son of Rome, Lords of the Fallen, Ultra Street Fighter IV) and thus use the Xbox’s ABXY button prompts.

DualShock 4

The DualShock 4 sells for around $ 60/£40—possibly a few bucks less depending on the retailer. To get it working, all you should need to do is download and install the latest version of DS4Windows (Update: commenter Asami recommends this version, and at a glance, it does look better) which will detect prerequisites and install any that are missing, followed by the software. After that, plug in the controller (also a micro-USB cable), let Windows detect it as a USB input device, and run the software. It should detect the controller, and now you can leave it alone (the default profile is fine), or you can create a new profile and play with the button mappings, axis tuning, and even adjust the LED colors.

I love customization, so I give the DS4 (and the creators of DS4Windows, of course) a lot of points for it. I can mess with the analog stick sensitivity, make the LED glow PC Gamer red or cycle through the rainbow, and use the trackpad as a mouse (not a very good one, but still). It can also be used wirelessly via Bluetooth, giving it even more points as Microsoft isn’t releasing a wireless Xbone controller dongle—at least, we haven’t heard plans for one yet.

The DS4 should work with any game an Xbox 360 controller works with, which is to say, practically any game with controller support. I haven’t had a problem yet. That said, I more often see people reporting problems with it in troubleshooting forums than I do for 360 or Xbone controllers. It’s not officially supported, so if you run into problems, the only help is the community.

DualShock 4

How it feels

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second opinion

I don’t have the world’s only hands, so I asked GamesRadar’s Ashley Reed, who prefers the DS4, to offer her opinion:

“While the Xbox One controller has its upsides (and you gotta love the click of the face buttons), the DS4 is just a nicer fit. The joysticks’ raised centers create a larger surface area and more space for me to grip, which gives a better sense of control. The shape also makes all the buttons easily accessible, particularly the bumpers, which are awkward to reach on the Xbox controller but in just the right place on the DS4. Plus, you can reach the menu button without moving your hands around. Have you tried that with the Xbox controller? Sad.”

The DualShock 4 is smaller than the Xbox One controller (Update: more accurately, it feels smaller, because it is wider, but not as tall), and I have to hold it loosely and arch my index fingers to press the triggers and bumpers with their tips. If I grip it with my palms fully touching the handles, which is my preference, the triggers hit the middle of my fingers and my thumbs land near the top of the controller, so that doesn’t work. The bonus of that loose grip is that my palms, and their sweat, stay off the controller. Those with smaller hands will probably find it more comfortable, though. I find it awkward.

As I mentioned, I prefer the Xbox One controller’s offset analog sticks. To me, it feels like the DS4 was designed as if the thumbs will most commonly be on the D-pad and face buttons. If yours are, then you might prefer it, but I usually use controllers for third-person action games like Lords of the Fallen where I largely ignore the D-pad. The sticks themselves are bigger than the Xbone’s and have enough resistance to feel sturdy, which I like, but I don’t like their slightly raised centers, which my thumbs tend to slip over.

I like that the triggers have more resistance than the Xbox One controller’s, giving them a less-mushy action, but they’re much smaller so it feels like my fingers are going to slip off the edges. I really don’t like the way they creak when I push them down, either—it feels like I’m going to break them. The face buttons are flat and matte, which I slightly prefer to the Xbone’s bulbous, shiny buttons, but they also have a less-clicky (and to me, less-satisfying) action. The ‘share’ and ‘options’ buttons (select and start, really) are hard to reach, pushed aside by the trackpad.

I think the DS4 is a fine controller, but I definitely prefer the Xbox One controller. I do love how much I can customize it with DS4Windows, but it feels awkward in my hands, and the only satisfying ‘click’ comes from pushing down on the analog sticks.

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Calibrating in DS4Windows.

Conclusion

My recommendation is the Xbox One controller—I just think it’s better—with the caveats that the DS4 is more customizable and may be a better fit for smaller hands. If you’ve tried both and like their designs equally, then I’d recommend the DS4 just for all that customization, as long as you’re aware that it might require a little more troubleshooting. Aside from the creaking I noticed with the DS4 triggers, I’d say they are equally well-made, and I haven’t broken one of either yet.

It’s a bit of a Pepsi vs. Coke situation, really, and though I don’t like equivocating, I know that the same reasons I believe the Xbox One controller is better may also be reasons someone prefers the DS4. Preference obviously depends on hand-size and which layout you’re most familiar with—and I also have to figure that console gamers factor in which console they prefer, or what they grew up with. I feel like I come from a fairly neutral place with this ‘console war’ business, having little preference for either, except to say that the PS4 is obviously better. (Kidding, kidding.)

I just wish I liked the DualShock 4 more, because I’d prefer to use something hacked onto the PC over Microsoft’s unenthusiastic PC support. The Xbox 360 and Xbone controllers are what we’re expected to use by most games, and I’m all for being defiant. I just can’t get over how awkward my thumbs feel on the analog sticks.

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Team Fortress 2′s Halloween event adds evil carnival, bumper cars

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TF2 Scream Fortress

Last week, Valve reactivated TF2′s five previous Halloween parties, and now the main event—the sixth—has gone live. Scream Fortress 6 adds a spooky carnival map, an evil hypnowizard controlling it, plenty of Halloween gear and achievements, oh and bumper cars, because why not. You have until the 12th of November to make the most of it, at which point TF2 will return to its regular, sadly bumperless self.

The new Carnival map is based on Doomsday, and contains a cornucopia of activities seen over by the wizard Merasmus. If you’re wondering why you’re fighting those dastardly blue/red guys there, you’ll want to read the event’s prequel comic. To cut a long story short: Merasmus forgot to build his carnival on top of an ancient burial ground, so he’s hoping to create one with our corpses. A strongman, spells, curses, copious amounts of urine, and bumper cars feature heavily in his plan.

Valve have made big changes to the way gifts work in this latest Halloween event: you’ll now receive a bag of items just for logging in, with the chance to earn a second during the event. You can read the reasoning behind this decision here, but it’s basically an attempt to inject some fun back into proceedings.

For more information, check out this poster for the event, or, y’know, log in to Team Fortress 2.

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King of Dragon Pass is finally getting a sequel, called Six Ages

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King Of Dragon Pass

King of Dragon Pass was a 1999 strategy game that put players in charge of a barbarian clan settling the unexplored and very dangerous lands of Dragon Pass. It was simultaneously complex and accessible, the sort of game that could make even strategic bumblers like me feel as though we possessed some modicum of competence in the genre, and while it wasn’t a hit by any measure—creator David Dunham said in a Eurogamer interview that the original release sold less than 8,000 copies—if you go to GOG you’ll find its praises being sung with great enthusiasm. And now, 15 years down the road, a sequel is in the works.

Dunham revealed the sequel on his blog, where he said that although he’s toyed with various ideas for a follow-up over the years, it was only a few months ago that inspiration really struck. He didn’t offer much in the way of detail because it’s still very early in the process, but the new game, entitled Six Ages, will be set in the same fantasy world as its predecessor and “consist of meaningful story choices tied together by the economic challenges facing a small community.”

Long-time King of Dragon Pass fans will also be happy to hear that Dunham is getting the band back together to make the new game. “I’m excited that I will again be working with [King of Dragon Pass] writer and game designer Robin D. Laws, and artists Jan Pospíšil (who did illustrations for King of Dragon Pass) and Pat Ward (who I worked with at Shenandoah Studio),” he wrote. “And when the game is further along, Liana Kerr will again be doing QA.”

There’s a website up at sixages.com, but aside from links to King of Dragon Pass and the Six Ages development blog, it’s basically empty. It does contain one noteworthy bit of information, however: “We have ambitious plans and a small team, so we don’t expect to release anything before 2016.” Hey, it’s been 15 years. What are a couple more at this point?

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YouTube now supports 60 FPS videos, watch one here

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Today, YouTube rolled out support for 60 FPS videos, which means we can finally use our YouTube channel to show you game footage as it’s meant to be seen. To celebrate the improvement for game video posters everywhere, we uploaded the first 4K 60 FPS video we had on hand, which happens to be a Batman: Arkham Origins benchmark.

To see the 60 FPS version, you need to be viewing the video at 720p or above. Expect many more 60 FPS and 4K videos to come.

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The Evil Within update enables 60 FPS without any “glitches”

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The Evil Within

I was baffled by the decision to release The Evil Within with a 30 FPS cap. Why should my (admittedly hypothetical) blisteringly-fast PC be artificially limited to a frame rate it’s easily capable of exceeding? Didn’t I spend hours back in the day benchmarking Quake, trying to squeeze as many frames out my hardware as I possibly could? Whatever the reason for the cap, it’s academic now, as today’s Steam update has officially done away with it.

It was actually done away with in mid-October when the debug console commands were revealed to the world, but sidestepping the cap in that fashion was not without risks: Bethesda warned that playing with frame rates and letterboxing could result in “quirks,” although it added that it would fix them eventually.

And so it has. The patch released today adds a “frame lock setting,” allowing players to toggle between 30 and 60 FPS, and also to toggle the letterbox bars on and off. More importantly, it takes care of the aforementioned gameplay and visual glitches associated with changing the settings through the debug console.

The patch also ensures that achievements will work properly when the console is enabled, incorporates a fix for starting the game in windowed mode on its first run, and makes “minor localization fixes,” none of which is terribly sexy as updates go. But being able to play at a decent frame rate without having to worry about “issues?” That’s good stuff, should it all work as promised.

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HP’s 3D-scanning ‘Sprout’ PC is unlike anything else the company has made

image The best way to describe Sprout, an ambitious new desktop from HP, is that it’s unlike any PC the company has ever made. The second-best way: It’s an all-in-one computer with a touch mat that acts as a second screen, and an overhead projector/camera…

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At just 4.85mm, Oppo R5 is the world’s slimmest smartphone

image Step aside, Gionee, as your record for the world’s slimmest smartphone has just been beaten by a fellow Chinese manufacturer. Oppo’s R5, the successor to the Asia-only R3, comes in at just 4.85mm thick, thus beating the 5.15mm-thick Elife S5.1 from…

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Researchers create a virtual screen with touchable objects

image A team from the University of Tokyo is putting their own spin on a touchscreen. By combining an infrared sensor with ultrasound technology, the group of researches have managed to design a virtual display that’s as thin as air and can let you feel…

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YouTube wants Android apps to use its live-streaming tool

image It may seem as if YouTube Live is still a work in progress for Google, and in many ways that continues to be the case. That’s far from being a bad thing, though. Over the course of the past couple of years, YouTube’s live-streaming feature has become…

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Grand Theft Auto V to reward returning players with extra weapons, vehicles and events

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GTA returning

If you’ve already played Grand Theft Auto V on the PS3 or 360, you’ll be eligible for a bunch of extra weapons, events and vehicles when the game re-releases this year/early next—even if you’re going to be playing it on PC. Rockstar has just announced the “exclusive” content, which I’ll detail below, while confirming that players will be able to pick up where they left off on the last-gen consoles, providing they’re members of the Rockstar Social Club. That membership is also needed for the new, returning-player-only stuff, which includes a Hollywood murder mystery, photography challenges, and a hatchet.

Basically, returning players will encounter additional events in the world, which present the player with challenges that will unlock new vehicles, weapons and visual filters when completed. These include the aforementioned murder mystery—”As Michael, follow a trail of cryptic clues to unravel a grisly murder mystery. Put the clues together and you’ll unlock two Noir Style Filters, which will give your Story Mode gameplay and Snapmatic photos the feel of a gritty old school crime classic”—a wildlife photography challenge that unlocks a submarine, stock car challenges, monkey graffiti and more. Unlockable extra content includes the Imponte Duke O’Death car (pictured above), along with the rail gun and hatchet weapons, muscle cars, and the “faster and more maneuverable” Xero Blimp.

Xero blimp

As mentioned before, you’ll need to have played the game/be about to play the game on PS3 or 360 to get this extra stuff, and you’ll need a Rockstar Social Club account to make the transfer to the new platform of your choosing (additionally, the save data transfer can only be made once). While the PS4 and Xbox One versions are due this November, the PC game isn’t expected until January, so we still have plenty of time to have a go on a last-gen version to claim this extra content. It’s not clear whether this transfer scheme has an expiry date, but hopefully all this extra content will be made available to non-returning GTAV players at some point.

More details here.

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