It will never replace my main gaming rig, or the homemade Steam Box sitting next to my TV, but I'm quite fond of my PS4. I'm enjoying it's performance, the games I get on PS+, the ease of use and it's even coming into its own as a media player. It's been a good buy.
But I've been really starting to love it in the last couple of weeks — because I've been able to play everything with my Xbox Elite controller.
I wrote late last year about a breakthrough on the CronusMAX back-end, software for a little USB device that functions like a converter for your consoles. It basically lets you use any controller with almost any console, although in my instance I'm purely using it for two specific purposes.
Well, mostly one.
Ever since I got my hands on the Xbox Elite controller last year I've loved it, and I'm not ashamed to hold it up as one of the best controllers for any console in any generation. It feels like it's worth $200. And the reaction from people I've seen who have never held one before has been the same. It feels sturdy. It feels like it's worth the asking price. It feels nice in the hand.
So, naturally, I want to use it all the time. And that includes when I'm playing on the couch. Why should I have to use Sony's controller?
Thankfully, I don't. That's where the CronusMAX comes in.
White on black, with a touch of Team Green
I dropped about $100 on this little device knowing very well it could be a complete and catastrophic failure. I considered the possibility Sony might have some kind of advanced detection that would frown upon me playing online games while using a non-Sony sanctioned controller.
None of that happened. The most annoying thing was not having a USB hub at the start, but I'll get to that in a second.
I bit the bullet just after the start of the year, getting a CronusMAX Plus device with shipping for $98.98 from OZModChips. The site has a range of chips and other items I have no interest in. I just wanted to play with the controller I wanted while using my PS4.
After updating the firmware and having a squizz around the CronusPRO software, which lets you upload all manner of profiles including what appears to be a highly dodgy set of anti-recoil measures for games like Call of Duty and Destiny, I plugged the device into one of my PS4's two USB slots. From there, I plugged my Xbox Elite in and fired up Need for Speed with great delight.
For the first ten minutes.
There's a trick I didn't immediately remember upon installation. Prior to their breakthrough late last year, the developers of the controller were only able to get Xbox One controllers (and the Xbox Elite as well) to stay authenticated with the PS4 for a maximum of 10 minutes. Afterwards, the controller would drop out and reconnect after 10 minutes, aggravating any game that automatically drops you into a pause menu whenever a controller disconnects.
Getting around this requires a four-port USB hub. And you also need to know the numbers of each of the USB ports, something I had to download a third-party program for. And once that's done, you have to plug the PS4 controller into the first port and the Xbox One controller into the last port. (Unless it doesn't work, in which case you move the PS4 controller into the 2nd or 3rd slot.)
And when it does work, you get a nice LED 0 — meaning the controller's authenticated, and you can play to your heart's content with no more disconnects. And that's when a lot of my games instantly started to get better.
Driving games became more enjoyable because I could have much finer control of steering, acceleration and braking than what the standard DS4 triggers allow. The smoother movement of the analog sticks made HELLDIVERS far easier because I could be as efficient with my pistol and sniper rifle as I wanted.
Fighting games got a huge bump, because the custom binds I set through the Xbox Accessories app were replicated on the PS4. That meant I could easily rebind the L3/R3 buttons for special moves, and the same change makes sprinting in shooters (hello Call of Duty, Destiny, or Warframe) a breeze as well.
There are some caveats. While bluetooth support for custom controllers is possible, I've decided to keep everything wired for the time being. It stops me from having to pair and repair devices if I want to switch to my Steam box or my main gaming rig. It also stops me from having to worry about batteries, which I'm terrible at doing. But if you'd prefer a wireless experience, that's entirely possible, although you're on your own there.
It's almost like I'm now treating my console as if it's an ordinary computer. I'm using the device I want without restrictions, and the all-around experience is better as a result. I can appreciate why that's not the status quo. Microsoft and Sony need to make money off accessories, and there are other considerations at play.
But I'm having more fun, and I like my console more. That's worth the extra $100.