New PlayStation 4 Dual Shock Wireless Controller Review

Product Name:DualShock 4 Wireless Controller for PlayStation 4 (CUH-ZCT2)
Brand:Sony
Platform:PS4
Features:Improved feel, shape, and sensitivity of dual analog sticks and trigger buttons. New lightpad strip on the touchpad for added visibility. USB Mode provides better response time.
Rating:
Find out more about the CUH-ZCT2 Edition of the DualShock 4 and What People Have to Say About it!

Over the past couple of weeks, a lot of buzz has come about from Sony’s recent announcements of both a newer (read: slimmer) PS4, as well as a 4K-resolution ready PS4 Pro. And while there’s plenty to say about the hardware specs for the new variants, ever notice the lack of enthusiasm to the new PlayStation 4 Dual Shock wireless controller?

Not gonna lie, but it does concern me that little fanfare was given to the new DS4, and it may probably have more to do with the what seems to be Sony taking the “why fix if it ain’t broke” approach. And they are probably right by going this route, seeing as this iteration is the best one they’ve designed by far. Rather, some consumers would have preferred an approach that was more inclined to “how can we make it better?”, especially with the additions to what has been bundles with the Xbox One S or the bevy of features seen in the Elite Controller.

But perhaps we are (or I am, for that matter), getting ahead of ourselves. Let us take a closer look at the new features of the new Dual Shock 4, aka the CUH-ZCT2 model.

 

Look at the light in front of me!

playstation-4-dual-shock-wireless-controller-lightbar

Ooh, look at that little bar of light!

The most obvious new feature in the new controller (and the piece that grabs the most attention) is that a section of the lightbar now extends above the touch panel. A slim bar of light can now be seen on the controller’s face, which is a better visual cue for the player holding the controller.

Why should this matter?

For starters, the color of the lightbar can represent several statuses in a game. At the very base, it can designate the first player from the second; but for other more intricate applications, they become an actual extension of the game by indicating things like health (green if you’re at full health, red when it’s low), notifications on what is in close proximity (flashing blue and red when a police car is close in a game like GTA), and even down to mimicking objects that are integral to gameplay (orange and red light when Lara Croft holds a torch).

So is it not enough that the current lightbar already does this job?

Well unless you have eyes that can constantly see the top of the controller (or if you are a proud owner of the Crystal edition of the DS4, among the other popular variants), then it is a bit hard to appreciate this feature. Having this appear where it does on the CUH-ZCT2 model makes it easier to see the light’s color/status. It’s subtle enough that it will not overwhelm the rest of what is functional on the controller, but at the same time vibrant and illuminate enough to advise the player as they continue to play.

Imagine being at a tense moment in the game you are playing, and then have to tilt the top of the controller towards eye view – what if, by the time you’ve done this, the very thing you are looking for an indication from had already occurred in-game? Congratulations, you just missed out on something that would have helped you progressed in some small way. On the other hand, seeing this indicator the moment you glance down at your controller can give you a bit more leeway to react to what is going to happen gameplay-wise.

What do I think? Well, I think this is definitely a good idea – to be honest, I never really bother to look at the lightbar when I play, and it was only recently that I found out the benefit of the the lightbar colors (yes, I know, I probably was living under a rock somewhere). To put a portion of the lightbar in a position that is more beneficial to the player because of a more immediate indicator to them is a welcome feature to the DS4.

 

Time to get wired up!

playstation-4-dual-shock-wireless-controller-sideview

I get a feeling that little port on the controller’s gonna get a whole lot of mileage!

In a world where technology seems to want to release wires (see Apple’s iPhone 7) in favor of the more convenient and constantly-evolving robustness of wireless connectivity, Sony has decided to dial it back a bit and offer a wired synch to the CUH-ZCT2. Now, players can instantly pair their controller to the PS4 just by connecting it via USB – think of it like how the Xbox 360 wired controller would immediately be assigned a player slot once the USB is cable is plugged into the console.

You have got to be kidding me, that is not a unique feature at all!

On the contrary, pairing via USB has excellent merits. First thing to note is that the player is now given two options in terms of connectivity. The original DS4 controller exclusively used Bluetooth connectivity regardless if it was plugged into the USB port of the console or not (when plugged in, it charged the controller as well). And since Bluetooth connectivity is largely dependent on things such as distance between the paired peripherals and physical objects, this kind of connection will still have moments of lag or interference.

The Bluetooth pairing on the PS4 has also brought about some challenging moments in a tournament/eSports setting. Tournament organizers will often advise players to completely switch off their controllers from the consoles being used, but a simple mistake of pressing the DS4’s PS button can cause the controller to connect to the last known console it was paired to, and result in tournament play being interrupted.

Not the most ideal scenarios.

With a USB connection, you are pretty much negating interference because the signal is sent directly into the console without any interference blocking its path. This alone provides a lag free connection where input gets translated on-screen faster than a wireless connection. This is especially advantageous in games where decisions-making and actions benefit from low to no lag, like FPS or fighting games. This kind of seamless connection could also provide greater benefits when listening to audio via headphone jack into the controller. In all likelihood, this might be more battery efficient, too!

The USB connection can also prevent accidental interruptions as per the aforementioned tournament scenario – if the controller was lined up via USB, then it should unpair once the cable is removed. No more interruptions!

Writer’s note: There is some uncertainty if this feature is firmware or product-related, so I guess we’ll have to see in the coming months.

Want to see an example of how the new connectivity works? Check out this video (I would like to give full credit to shortman eighty2 for this video)

Parting Words: Tell us how you really feel..

Okay, so I’ll have to admit, these two features are pretty nifty. Thinking about enriching the user experience through a modified visual cue, as well as the ability to provide minimal lag to user input through the USB cable, should make Sony deserving of a high-five!

Personally, though, and at the risk of getting booed or jeered for this opinion.. I feel like these features should have been accounted for in the original version (well, at least for the additional USB connectivity). My opinion on this matter is more consumer-centric and inclined towards the “more bang for the buck” as it comes over as Sony would make us buy a new console just to get the new controller (which would probably be sold separately later on).

Not gonna lie, but Microsoft got this one right.. If only Sony did a similar thing..

Not gonna lie, but Microsoft got this one right.. If only Sony did a similar thing..

For me, if the PS4 were to have a new controller, it should also think about features like accessibility or input variety – something which, unfortunate for someone who’s been sold on the PS4 since this edition of the console wars, is where I feel Microsoft wins with the Elite controller. The DS4’s parts are feel very good in the hands, and I think that engineering some ways to make it easier to use for people with physical impairments would further bolster the PS4 in the eyes of consumers… something that, unfortunately, we will have to see as product offerings in third-party manufacturers like SCUF.

If you have the money, though, by all means line up and get the new consoles so you can enjoy the new controller as well. Otherwise, and if you seem happy with where the DS4 is at, then perhaps a look at these variants would cleanse your gaming palate.

 

How do you feel about the new DS4 (aka the CUH-ZCT2 series)? Let me know in the comments section!

 

Find out more about the CUH-ZCT2 Edition of the DualShock 4 and What People Have to Say About it!

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