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How to Connect a PS4 Controller to a PC — to Hilarious Effect

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 15 comments
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Sony excited a number of gamers when it announced that its PS4 controller would be compatible with PCs by default. Although Sony's novel touchpad would not work with computer games at the outset, there was no reason, the company explained, why gamers couldn't simply plug in the controller and play.

The sentiment was not wrong, exactly, but it may have been overly optimistic. The PS4 controller works with the PC in much the same way that a fungus is technically a living thing: It superficially satisfies the requirements while laying bare a number of baffling, underlying inconsistencies.

MORE: PS4 vs. Xbox One: Which Console Wins?

Still, if you want to try it for yourself (and there's no reason why you shouldn't, if you own a PS4 controller and a gaming PC), the process is both quick and easy.

1. Connect the controller. First, grab your PS4 controller and your micro-USB cable (you may need a slightly longer one than the model that comes with the PS4). Plug the controller into your PC with the cable, and wait until Windows installs the requisite drivers.

2. Access the controller's properties. Navigate to the Devices and Printers menu in the Control Panel (not the Device Manager). On the top Devices menu, the PS4 controller will appear as "Wireless Controller."Right-click on the Wireless Controller and select Controller Settings, then click on Properties.

3. Test the settings. You'll now be able to test the PS4 controller. Every button should work — though the touchpad works only as a button, not with touch functionality.

4. Attempt to play games. Now load up your game of choice, and watch the ensuing hilarity.

PC games aren't made for the PS4 controller

Here's the problem: Although PCs recognize the PS4 controller, this device does not use the standard application-programming interface (API) that other PC controllers employ. This means that no game is designed with a PS4 controller in mind.

Playing a game with a PS4 controller will be a bizarre experience — if it works at all. Although the PS4 controller connected to a PC worked flawlessly in Tom's Guide's controller settings tests, the games we attempted were just about unplayable.

In Valve's "Portal 2," we could move around and shoot the portal gun without incident, but the camera spun in a circle nonstop, making for a dizzying experience that was not conducive to "Portal 2's" demanding, precise puzzles.

Still, our experience with "Portal 2" was better than our time with "Outlast" from Red Barrels. Although this game has explicit and seamless controller support, it did not recognize the PS4 peripheral at all, leaving us standing stock-still as monsters devoured us.

On gaming forums, some users have reported success using third-party utilities such as the Cronusmax (which lets you plug console controllers into a USB dongle that routes them through a PC controller interface), or software that fooled computers into thinking that a PS4 controller was actually an Xbox 360 controller. (Xbox 360 controllers are compatible with PCs; strangely, Xbox One controllers will not be compatible until 2014.)

If you want to invest in some third-party peripherals or drivers, a PS4 controller could make a good PC accessory. If not, it's better to just invest in another device and save yourself some headaches.

If you're looking for the simplest way to use a controller with your PC, consider an Xbox 360 Controller for Windows. Because Microsoft produces the controller itself, most PC games that have controller support will function well with this controller as a matter of course.

If you're married to the PlayStation controller design, there are also plenty of options from Logitech, Razer and a few smaller companies that more closely mirror Sony's sensibilities. These high-end PC controllers will generally run you between $30 and $60, and getting them to work is usually as simple as plugging them in.

Alternatively, see how far you and your friends can get in a version of "Portal 2" that never stops spinning.

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  • 1 Hide
    wiimonkey9 , December 6, 2013 8:05 AM
    Or you could use PS3 controllers, Motioninjoy, and a bluetooth adapter, I personally don't like the PS4 Controller's design.
  • 0 Hide
    jp182 , December 6, 2013 8:09 AM
    No mention of the MotioninJoy drivers or Better DS3 with a PS3 controller? Or if those drivers work with the PS4 controller?
  • 0 Hide
    hitman40 , December 6, 2013 8:27 AM
    @wiimonkey9: I don't know if you ever used a DS4 or you are using binoculars to observe this controller visually, but it is 1000x more ergonomic than the DS3, better materials (switchback materials front and back) better triggers, better analogs (curvature and deadzone). It felt so awkward using a DS3 after using the 4
  • Display all 15 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    jimmysmitty , December 6, 2013 8:33 AM
    I don't get this. If you don't own a X360 or have a 360 controller, why not just get a Logitech F310 or F710 (if you want wireless)? They support both X and D inputs and as well are designed much like a PS controller.

    Why use a controller that wont work with a game without some third party software that could possibly cause issues?
  • 0 Hide
    internetlad , December 6, 2013 8:44 AM
    Spinning Nightmare mode on portal 2? Save yourself 50 bones and just type +left in console.

    good times on TF2 running in circles with +left and +forward spamming HLDJ with a buddy in arena as the last two guys left alive. Valve removed it though and ended our trolling fun.
  • 2 Hide
    takeshi7 , December 6, 2013 9:16 AM
    You can connect a DualShock 4 to PC through bluetooth without the need for a USB cable by holding down the PS button and Share button for 5 seconds until the lightbar starts flashing. That's how I use it with emulators.
  • 1 Hide
    takeshi7 , December 6, 2013 9:21 AM
    Also the DualShock 4 shows up as a standard controller when used with bluetooth and I haven't needed any third party software to get it to work with anything. The only problem is the touchpad doesn't work, but you can still use it as a button.
  • -2 Hide
    takeshi7 , December 6, 2013 9:22 AM
    Also the DualShock 4 shows up as a standard controller when used with bluetooth and I haven't needed any third party software to get it to work with anything. The only problem is the touchpad doesn't work, but you can still use it as a button.
  • 1 Hide
    jtd871 , December 6, 2013 9:40 AM
    +1/2 for Logitech 310. Too bad these pads have stick issues, cause otherwise they would be a no-brainer at $20 per each. They are, however, the only way to play DirectInput and XInput titles without buying 2 gamepads.
  • 0 Hide
    clonazepam , December 6, 2013 10:10 AM
    I went shopping for a controller to use on my PC a few years ago. I bought a xbox 360 controller. Here's the thing. I looked at two xbox 360 controllers (identical). Both were wired. The only difference between the two was the packaging. One was labeled as being for the xbox 360. One was labeled as being for PC. The only thing different between them was the packaging. I want that to be clear. The one labeled as being for the PC was nearly half the cost. It obviously works perfectly fine on both the PC and the xbox 360. Since nothing has changed, there's still no reason to even look at another controller.
  • 0 Hide
    rocknrollz , December 6, 2013 10:15 AM
    BetterDS3 I found is better than motionjoy. I have used MJ for a while, and bettereds3 is faster to setups, and casuing less problems. Plus it doesn't come with all those ads.
  • 1 Hide
    gamerk316 , December 6, 2013 11:07 AM
    The spinning issue is due to the PS4 controller, like 99% of controllers on the market, using either SDL or DirectInput, rather then Microsofts Xinput API. Due to the differences in the API, what used to be the "null" position of the right stick is read as a constant left, resulting in camera spin in most games. This is also why Square/Triangle and X/Circle are flipped, since the button mappings are different.

    Using X360CE basically solves the problem, but someone really needs to make a universal shim layer to make most gamepads work with XInput.
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , December 6, 2013 11:11 AM
    While I don't own either console (xbox or playstation), I have played on the 360, PS3 and a little on the PS4 (in store). The 360 controller is still far more comfortable/natural to use than the Playstation controllers. And this is coming from someone whose main console experience is on the PS2.
  • 0 Hide
    Marcus52 , December 6, 2013 7:09 PM
    Couple of guys I watch on YouTube and Twitch use PS4 controllers without any trouble to play Borderlands 2. One mentioned you need to set it up right, it wouldn't work just plugging it in properly, but it can be done fairly easily.
  • 0 Hide
    D-Marquee , February 4, 2014 12:47 PM
    I am not usually disappointed with tom's guide. But this article is garbage. Any PC master race citizen knows you should always remap buttons, regardless of support/programming language/ drivers used. It's a natural step to setting up the best gameplay experience. Defaults are rarely enjoyable. For all of you nay Sayers on the PS4 controller. Seriously, go back to your consoles you dirty console peasants. There is a reason you will never enjoy PC gaming because you still prefer Xbox and lesser ergonomic designs to quality items. The ps4 controller is the greatest ergonomic controller to come out of consoles, period. It is a fact reviewed over and over on YouTube.So Marshall, thank you for your console peasant commentary on an issue most of us PC master race citizens know how to solve. These so called problem areas keep you console noobs out if my PC game lobbies. And for that I thank you.
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