The PlayStation 4 has been on the market for over half a decade now. With each day, we inch closer to the end of this generation and the unveiling of the PlayStation 5. It seems highly unlikely that this generation will last much longer. The PS4 has fulfilled its purpose as a piece of hardware and developers are likely looking towards bigger sights. The PS5 is legitimately on the horizon. It may not come next year, but it will surely lead the charge when we hit 2020. The 2010s are ending and closing out one of the longest generations of gaming we’ve ever had. What better time, then, to reflect on the PlayStation 4?
Sony’s fourth home console and by far the most popular this generation, the PS4 may not go down as one of gaming’s greats, but it will be remembered as a turning point for Sony. The PS4 marks a shift towards full on multimedia, but not a shift that neglects gaming. More and more developers dedicated resources to developing for the PS4 than the Xbox One, and the console’s popularity shows. Interestingly, the PS4’s almost cluttered and awkward launch also brought with it several features that either went unused by most audiences or outright forgotten. It’s been six years since the PS4 hit store shelves and you'd be surprised at how little you actually know about one of gaming’s most popular systems.
25 The Deliberacy Of The PS4’s Shape
We all already agree that the PS4 is shaped… weird, to say the least, but it’s one of those things we don’t comment on. You know, because we’re polite. The PS4 didn’t choose to be shaped the way it is, that was something thrust upon the console by Sony. And quite deliberately at that.
Easy to use, easy to find, easy on the eyes.
While the buttons are initially difficult to find on the thing, the PS4’s physical geometry actually makes hitting power or eject incredibly easy. You’ve probably taken it for granted considering just how smooth the process is. All it takes is a simple feeling, and that’s really all thanks to the PS4’s sloped body.
24 The DualShock 4’s Touch Pad
Not very many games actually make use the DualShock 4’s touch pad, but it is indeed a feature that exists. That center button (not the home button,) isn’t just Select’s replacement, it is very much its own beast. Theoretically, the touch pad can be used not too dissimilar to how the 3DS’ bottom screen can be used (or more appropriately, the Vita’s touch screen.) Of course, as the PS4 is very much a console dedicated towards traditional gaming and gamers, few developers- if any these days- actually make use of the touch pad’s touch capabilities.
23 Gyroscopic Keyboard
That said, where developers do not particularly care about the touch pad, Sony actually does. To an extent. By calmly passing your figure on the pad itself, you can actually use the PS4’s built in gyroscopic features to type without needing to press a single button. Is it a practical? Honestly, not in the slightest. Like most of Sony’s once a generation features, it’s a gimmick more than an actual implemented feature. The idea is that you CAN do this very specific thing, but it’s clear that Sony doesn’t want to push it.
22 Remote Play
We all love video games, but there is no person who goes through life without their fair share of responsibilities. Sooner or later, you’ll need to put the controller down and go about your life. Whether it’s to work, go to school, or just get out of the house, you won’t be sitting down playing games all day.
Who doesn't want to play PS4 games on their Vita?
Why can’t you, though? With remote play, you can link your PS Vita to your PS4 and actually stream games onto your handheld. Break free from life’s social norms and take your games with you wherever you go. Of course, you’ll need a staple Wifi connection and most games won't run spectacularly, but, hey, it gets the job done.
21 Listening To Your PS4 Through Your Controller
Games can be loud and, it can be argued, that games are indeed best played at the loudest where audio can still be heard clearly. This is a medium built on interactivity, why shouldn’t we strive for immersion at every turn? At the same time, the existence of something called “night” and “work weeks” means we can’t blast our audio all the time.
Thankfully, in a genuine stroke of genius, Sony built the DualShock 4 with a headphone jack in mind. Right underneath the center of the controller itself, you can plug your headphones in and listen to the in-game audio without distracting your neighbors. You can even edit the audio quality in the console itself to find that perfect level of audio fidelity.
20 Cross Purchase
Nintendo really needs to take notes when it comes to cross purchase, (although perhaps not since the Virtual Console more or less doesn’t exist anymore,) since Sony has been knocking the concept out of the park for years. Should you buy a game on Vita or PS4 with a port on the other system, you actually own said game.
Naturally, your purchases need to be digital, but Sony won’t hold you ransom for a game if you happened to buy it on PS4 and wanted it again on Vita. It isn’t a discount situation, either: you actually own that game forever. Cross purchase is legitimately one of the best features available through not only the PS4, but modern Sony in general.
19 Making The Most Of PlayStation Plus
It’s no secret that Sony gives our free games monthly for PlayStation Plus subscribers, but the concept isn’t actually so simple as that. Typically, you need to pick and choose which games you want to download per month, but, if you’re someone who’s really in it for the numbers, you can actually toggle your Library to download new PS+ games when they release. You’ll basically get a flood of free games without having to lift a finger! Which kind of speaks volumes to the technological age we live in, doesn’t it?
18 Facial Recognition
Here you thought Microsoft was the only one playing around with trends like facial recognition. By connecting the state of the art PS Camera into your PlayStation 4, you can then head into the menus and start fiddling around with facial recognition. By allowing the camera to get a look of your face, you can store your visual identity into the PS4 and go so far as to turn on your console just by looking at it. Of course, you might need one extra step to make said scenario practical.
17 Voice Commands
That’s where trust voice commands come in. Not only can your PS4 literally recognize your face like a dog rushing his owner after a long day at work, your PS4 will obey your every command should you program it to do so. Let’s be honest, though, if you’re going so far as to buy a PS Camera in order to enable facial recognition, chances are you were never going to stop before you got voice commands working. I mean, who doesn’t want to bark order at their PS4 in orders to turn the console on or off?
16 Recording And Streaming
We live in an era where video game streaming is the norm. Through Twitch TV or just YouTube, you can catch all your favorite games being played by people all around the world. While it seemed silly back in 2013, Sony decided they’d implement full on streaming services through the PS4.
Through the PS4’s Share feature, you can hop onto Twitch and stream your games right away. It’s one of Sony’s more inspired moves this gen and one that caters to an audience that very much does exist. Feel free to take your PS4 online and stream to your heart’s content! Just watch out for those forbidden scenes.
15 From Start To Options
Interestingly, Sony decided to get rid of “Start” and “Select” as buttons altogether. Video game staples since the third generation, these buttons more or less transcended their original purposes. Where Start once began it games, it took on a more confirmatory nature. Where Select once allowed you to select between options, it serves as Start’s alternate.
It's a new age.
As both terms had become outdated, Sony recognized the chance to rebrand the buttons and give the DualShock 4 a more “PlayStation” identity. Select became Share, and Start became Options, an amalgamation of what Start and Select had become. Options still serves the purpose it once did as Start, but with a makeover that makes its existence a bit more sensible.
14 The DualShock 4 Features The Most Buttons Of Any Modern Controller
At first glance, the DualShock 4 seems pretty uniform with modern controllers in general. It has a D-Pad, four face buttons, two analog sticks that can be pressed, a Start and Select variant, a home button, and four shoulder buttons. You’re forgetting one thing, though: the touch pad. The touch pad is one button extra than both the Nintendo Switch’s controller and the Xbox One’s. It may not seem like much- and it truly isn’t- but it’s enough to give the DualShock 4 this arbitrary title.
13 The DualShock 4’s Light Isn’t Just For Show
Believe it or not, the DualShock 4’s light bar actually does serve a discernible purpose. Unfortunately, as this is a Sony gimmick we’re talking about, it isn’t particularly meaningful in any sense. The light bar is meant to evoke the same capabilities of the PS Move’s motion controls. Sounds interesting in theory, but think back to how many first party PS4 actually utilize motion controls or the existence of the light meaningfully. Virtually none, right? At least you now know that it isn’t just there for show.
12 Dimming The Light
Mercifully, Sony actually did foresee that their light wouldn’t get much use so they built in a feature to allow players to dim the light. Unfortunately, you cannot turn the light off entirely- perhaps due to some misplaced hope that someone, somewhere would design a game that would justify its existence entirely- but being able to turn down the brightness is a much welcome alternative. There’s nothing quite so frustrating as seeing a bright blue glare coming off your TV in the middle of the night.
11 Spotify Compatibility
Should for whatever reason the music in the game you’re playing not appeal to your sense, you can just log into Spotify and enjoy some of your own music through your PS4. Not every game will be compatible with Spotify, of course, but the fact the PS4 can link to Spotify at all is something worth taking note of.
And triangle, circle, cross, square loves Spotify.
In many respects, the PS4 is more multimedia device than it is dedicated video game console. This isn’t to say that it is any lesser a system- not by any means- but that it appeals and caters to many different audiences. In this respect, the PS4 is very much a party device, allowing you to blast proper music for hours on end.
10 Double Tapping Between Apps
While said feature has become commonplace, it is worth mentioning the convenience of the PlayStation 4 allows its user base to open multiple apps at once. While no one will be able to have two games active at the exact same time, it’s certainly possible to, say, have a video game and Netflix open at once.
As it this wasn’t convenient enough, double tapping the home button on the DualShock 4 will actually allow you to instantaneously switch between active apps. Tired of whatever game you’re playing and need a break? Double tap to Netflix. The episode’s done and you want to play some more? Double tap back!
9 Your DualShock 4 Can Turn On Your TV
Although the DualShock 4 cannot turn on your TV by default, you can customize it to do so. With the right television, you can make it so your TV recognizes the DualShock 4 as a universal remote. It’s actually quite convenient, especially in an age where the Nintendo Switch implements such a feature by default. It’s another layer of convenience to an already convenient console. That said, the fact this wasn’t a built in feature does mean you may not necessarily be able to pull it off. By all means, though, try.
8 You Can Customize Your Buttons
If for whatever reason you aren’t satisfied with the button mapping of the DualShock 4, the PS4 actually does allow you customize the buttons entirely. There really is no logical reason to remap every single button to a new position as, inevitably, it’ll cause problems with games, but there is one justifiable reason to do so.
Easily one of the more obscure features.
Back in the olden days, Cross and Circle were swapped between regions. Japan had Circle as confirm and Cross as deny; the west had Cross as confirm and Circle as deny. If you’re attached to that era of gaming, you can swap Cross and Circle to better match the PlayStation’s original vision for controls.
7 The PS4 Can Charge Other Electronics
So long as your PS4 is powered on, you can plug any electronic that goes into a USB port in order to charge it. It’s most likely not a designed element from Sony themselves and more just a coincidence contrived from technology itself. It can be quite useful, though. Should you have a SNES Mini and no real means of connecting it to a USB port, just put it on top of your PS4 and let Sony fuel your Nintendo throwback console.
6 Save Data, External Hard Drives, And You
With that in mind, you are perhaps better off saving one of your USB ports for an external hard drive. When it comes down to it, the PS4 really isn’t going to give you the space you need to keep playing all the hottest releases, especially if you predominantly purchase and play digital games.
Buy one. You'll need it.
As a result, you’ll run out of space fast. Thankfully, a good chunk of external hard drives are compatible with the PS4. Simply format those bad boys, plug them into your PS4, and marvel at how much space you’ll have. A good one will cost you quite a penny, but it’s worth it in order to afford the space.
5 The PS4 Screenshots Your Trophy Moments
They say you can never go back to your memories, but “they” obviously didn’t know that the PS4 took screenshots of the most important memories of all: Trophies. Every time you get a Trophy, your PS4 screenshots the exact moment you triggered the Trophy. Should you go through your Trophy list, you’ll see nice little photos accompanying each acquisition with the time and date attached. While you aren’t able to literally travel through time, you will be able to- at a glance- remember the halcyon days of your youth when you managed to get a Trophy for beating a game for the first time. Those are the moments that really count, right?
4 Blocking Those Pesky Notifications
There’s nothing more immersion breaking than seeing “Recording has been blocked” at the top left corner of the screen whenever something even remotely important happens. With Trophies, most at least come at appropriate times and can serve some comic relief, but these notifications are honestly insufferable.
Do the right thing. Block notifications.
Fortunately, you can block them altogether by going to your notifications menu and disabling the feature. While you’re at it, feel free to literally disable every other pop up. When it comes down to it, consoles shouldn’t have pop up features. They’re practical in a sense, but not enough where we can justify their existence ruining actual gameplay.
3 Adjusting The Controller’s Speaker Volume
As is the case with the DualShock 4’s light bar, there’s a very realistic chance you aren’t going to want to hear the muffled audio that’ll occasionally come out of your PS4 controller. More often than not, it’s just not going to sound good. It doesn’t even have the same appeal as the Wiimote where it at least functioned like a phone. Thankfully, by configuring your controller on the console itself, you can dim that speaker down to nothing. It almost makes you wonder why Sony wouldn’t let you disable the light as well.
Folders were one of the best features available on the PlayStation 3 for obvious reasons. No one wants a cluttered hub and being able to exile certain apps or games off to their own distinct folders not only made finding games easier, but gave your hub a personality it didn’t have prior to folders.
Unfortunately, the PS4 did not roll out with folder support in mind. This feature actually took a bit of time to implement. As a result, most people aren’t even aware such a feature exists. Gone are the days of your cluttered hub. Create folders, as many as you can! Revel in how clean your PS4’s home screen will look!
1 The Beauty Of Rest Mode
The PS4 may very well have the single greatest sleep, or rest, mode of all the modern consoles. Not only does it power down the console as low as possible without interfering with its capabilities, it’s actually more than a perfectly fine alternative to turning the PlayStation 4 off altogether.
Goodnight, sweet PS4.
Coupled with the PS4’s latent ability to allow you to switch between apps in-game, you can realistically just exist an app without closing it, turn on rest mode, and come back hours later to your nice hub only to hop back into the app without any performance issues whatsoever. It’s gaming taken to the next level.