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Why PlayStation 5’s DualSense is the best controller ever made

I’ve grappled with the question of the best gaming controller before, but with the arrival of next generation consoles, we might have a new winner: the PlayStation 5’s DualSense. Sony spent a lot of time hyping up the PlayStation 5’s new controller, and now that the console is here, it sure seems like the DualSense has the capabilities to back that hype up.

Astro’s Playroom is the only introduction one needs to the DualSense controller, and I think it should be the first thing every new PlayStation 5 owner plays. Not only is it a fun enough game in its own right, but it demonstrates all of the DualSense’s features, from the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback to motion controls and the built-in speaker/microphone.

What left me particularly impressed was the haptic feedback on the DualSense, which when paired with the speaker on the controller can really make different in-game actions feel distinct. The most basic and easy to explain example is when Astro walks between hard and soft ground, for instance a steel floor and grass. You can definitely feel the difference because of that haptic feedback, and the speaker on the controller helps the effect a lot more than I thought it would.

All of the features on this controller are great, but they aren’t the only things that make the DualSense a really good controller. For starters, the controller feels great in the hand – as good as an Xbox One/Xbox Series X controller, and that is no meager praise. From a design standpoint, I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed with a PlayStation controller.

I was never really a big fan of PlayStation controllers until the DualShock 4 came along. Obviously game controllers have only gotten better as time goes on, but for a while there, PlayStation controllers were mostly the same from generation to generation with only minor changes. The DualShock 4 broke that pattern in a big way, but now that the PlayStation 5 is on the scene, it feels like the DualSense is the true revolutionary controller in the PlayStation lineup.

Despite all the praise, the controller isn’t perfect. I’m not crazy about the mostly white color scheme, for starters. I’m sure we’ll see plenty of color options for the DualSense as time goes on, and it likely won’t be long before I can get a DualSense in a darker color to use as my daily driver, but I really hate it when things that are supposed to see heavy use are only available in white. Every little speck of dirt shows up plain as day on this controller, and after a week and a half of using it, I can already tell that’s going to be a huge annoyance.

To my eye, there’s very little difference between the d-pad on the DualSense and the d-pad on the DualShock 4. It feels like the buttons on the DualSense’s d-pad have a smoother curve to them, but beyond that, they feel almost exactly the same. The d-pad on the DualSense isn’t bad, but I do think that the d-pad on the Xbox Series X controller does come out ahead in terms of quality.

Aside from those minor gripes, though – and they are very minor – I’m not finding very much to dislike about the DualSense. I love the clear plastic buttons, I love the look of the controller, and I love the feel of it. Battery life seems pretty good but to be honest I’ve only had to charge it once since that initial charge when I first unboxed the PlayStation 5, so I don’t even have a complete battery life picture yet. The DualSense is so good that PC gamers might even want to pick one up for their rigs, even though Xbox controllers are generally the go-to among the PC crowd.

My one major concern is that we won’t see developers actually use these standout features – haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, etc – on a large scale. I expect every single first-party PlayStation game to support those features, but beyond that, it’s easy to see developers choosing not to support them in multiplatform titles because it ultimately means investing more work into the PlayStation 5 version of their game.

I hope I’m wrong, because these features are definitely impressive and I’d like to see them in as many PlayStation 5 games as possible, but I don’t think we’re going to see integration on the level of Astro’s Playroom coming from any company but the ones under the Sony umbrella. That wouldn’t be the end of the world, because this is still a great controller even when those features aren’t supported, but when they are, that’s when the DualSense really shines.

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Sony’S Playstation Experience: Here’S What You Missed

Sony’s PlayStation Experience: here’s what you missed

Sony just finished its standalone PlayStation Experience media event in Las Vegas this weekend, and it unloaded a ton of teasers on gamers. Not all of them good, unfortunately. But if you weren’t keeping tabs on the press conference, you need not fret as there is plenty of time to catch up before the games hit stores next year. As to what those games are, it’s a wide collection of sequels to iconic titles like Street Fighter and Yakuza, as well as a bunch of new inventions from indie developers.

As was leaked earlier, the latest Street Fighter V will, in addition to being a PlayStation 4 exclusive, also be available on PCs. But it won’t just be a simple case of availability. SF V will actually feature multiplayer cross-platform gameplay, meaning that you can dish it out with other players even if you’re not playing on the same platform.

Although not exactly a new game, Yakuza 5 will finally be landing on Western shores. The latest installment of the Yakuza series will arrive in the US and Europe, exclusive to the PlayStation 3 via PSN only. In preparation for that, Sony is making Yakuza 4 and Yakuza: Dead Souls available in Europe starting December 7 from the PlayStation Store.

Not all the upcoming games are from big franchises, and they need not be in order to be interesting. For example, Drawn to Death is a rather intriguing third-person arena shooter from God of War and Twisted Metal game designer David Jaffe. Eschewing the photorealistic rendering common in today’s games, Drawn to Death adopts a more exaggerated celshaded approach, with characters and a world seemingly scribbled on a teenager’s notebook.

A similar “from a child’s mind” theme, but a bit more light-hearted, comes via Wattam. With Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi at the helm, together with Journey producer Robin Hunickle, you can expect some interesting, if not downright nonsensical, themes and gameplay to ensue.

On the indie side, a few existing titles will be making their way to Sony’s gaming devices. Adventure platformer Shovel Knight is one. Transistor, from Supergiant, the makers of Bastion, will be landing on both the PS4 and the PS Vita. Orcs Must Die: Unchained sequel, Dobule Fine’s Gang Beasts, and horror sequel Killing Floor 2, are also some of the indie titles to look forward to next year.

One of the biggest disappointments perhaps, some even call it the biggest trolling this year, is Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation 4. Yes, the most beloved JRPG classic is coming to the latest gen console, but nothing has changed. Not remastered, not HD, and not even the most wished for remake in gorgeous 3D ala Advent Children. Then again, there is a surge of interest in retro-looking games lately, so this straight out port might just fit the bill.

If you have a lot of time to burn, you can also watch the whole two-hour long PlayStation Experience Keynote below.


Playstation Plus Pricing: Subscription Tiers And Costs

PlayStation Plus Pricing: Subscription Tiers and Costs

The name remains the same, but there will be three tiers to the PlayStation Plus. Here, we break down Sony’s revamped subscription service and the costs.

Last month, Sony announced their overhaul of their PlayStation subscription service and a rebrand of PlayStation Plus scheduled for June. For the most part, things will stay the same. However, new content will be added for different tiers of the subscription, as well as the addition of PlayStation Now being brought under its umbrella. You can also find out what games will be released with each subscription tier right here.

The new PlayStation Plus will have three plans to choose from Essential, Extra, and Premium.

Essential will provide core features such as multiplayer access and free games to download each month as well as discounts. This is, quite simply, essential in this day and age. This is likely closest to Xbox’s Gold membership and is required to play games online. Essential is basically the current PlayStation Plus subscription. This will cost £6.99 a month, or £49.99 a year.

Extra will be £10.99 a month, or £83.99 a year, and will bring additional benefits such as the Game Catalog “featuring hundreds of downloadable PS4 and PS5 games”. The Extra tier gets closer to Xbox Game Pass, offering up to 400 PS4 and PS5 games.

Premium adds on game trials, access to classic PlayStation games through the Classics Catalog, and cloud streaming to play the catalogue games without downloading for £13.49 a month or £99.99 a year. This will add an extra 340 games, featuring PS1, PS2, and PSP games, and PS3 cloud streaming. 

But how does this new PlayStation Plus work out against its competitors? Game Pass has been seen as a Netflix subscription for gaming, and while it would make sense to compare these two things, PlayStation Extra will likely better align with the likes of Game Pass Ultimate specifically.

Price-wise, Game Pass Ultimate and PlayStation Plus Extra are a match and give similar benefits. However, Xbox does not offer annual subscriptions while PlayStation offers a discount. This means a year of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate would be closer to the £132 mark, while PlayStation Plus Premium would be a cheaper £99.99 if paid annually rather than monthly.

While Sony may be able to offer more games than Game Pass does, it starts to fall flat with a lack of Day-1 releases, one of the things that helps make Game Pass very attractive. With subscription services, it also depends on the games which are on offer. Game Pass offers a wide variety in its library, from newer releases and mainstream games to hidden gems and old loves. It is hard to say if PlayStation Plus subscriptions are ‘worth it’ without seeing the catalogue which is on offer. If it does offer a similar selection to Game Pass Ultimate, it can only be seen as a win for PlayStation owners due to the cheaper costs.

Bearing in mind most people will be paying for PlayStation Plus anyway for multiplayer access, it seems a no-brainer to look at PlayStation Plus Extra. With most games currently costing around £50 each, you only need to play a couple of new-ish games a year to have reaped the benefits. Whether the subscriptions are worth it, much like Xbox Games Pass, comes down to how often you play and the games you play.

The final judgement will come based on the games Sony put on offer through its catalogues, however. The new PlayStation Plus subscriptions are due to come into effect on 22nd June.

Sony Playstation 4 Liveblog: The Future Of Videogames?

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In reverse-chronological order–so, newest updates first._

8:06: We don’t know what the console looks like, what it costs, what games costs, when it’ll ship, what kind of hardware it uses beyond “x86 processor.” What we do know is that Sony just took two hours of my Wednesday night when I could have been at home on my couch under a really nice wool blanket watching House of Cards and drinking a nice mug of tea. HOW DARE YOU SONY

8:04: Guys, pretty sure we all just got pranked, because Sony doesn’t appear to be actually showing the PlayStation 4 hardware today. That’s the end of the presentation. It’s coming this holiday season, and we still don’t know what it looks like, and I have been drinking, goodnight.

7:59: Whoa, Bungie’s on stage. Bungie is the developer behind Halo, the series that single-handedly made the Xbox a successful–perhaps the most successful–product. Looks like they’re announcing a new game called Destiny which looks…um…exactly like Halo.

7:54: We’re updating a little more slowly now because this announcement is kind of really boring? Blizzard is on stage showing off Diablo 3 on PS4, which I suppose is notable because Blizzard is typically a PC developer, but it is not that interesting. Also we have begun drinking, also we are ordering pizza.

7:45: Colin: “Wouldn’t it be weird if they invited someone without a Y chromosome out?”

7:43: This is taking forever. Some guy who does not really speak english just said “I am not the brother of your sister” in a cadence like it was a killer Steven Wright one-liner. There was complete, uncomfortable silence, obviously, because what? I feel for him. Ubisoft is on stage now. Reminder: we still don’t know what the PS4 looks like.

7:38: Square Enix is up. Editorial Director Suzanne notes that the guy giving the announcement is “PRETTY.” His game looks like some kind of terrorism simulator with bonus wizards.

Square Enix at PlayStation 4 Event

7:31: A Japanese rep from Capcom is talking about the new engine his team built from the ground up for PlayStation 4. Everyone is watching the teleprompter…because he’s speaking Japanese.

7:25: Some kind of motion-sensing music game…thing…happening here? With the Move controllers? I have no idea what’s happening to be honest. It’s like a metal riff? Please stop Sony please.

7:20: Asked Colin to tell me about the crowd. He says: “Pretty sure someone is on Facebook, but cannot confirm. Someone just left. Ha. Then someone clapped when Sony said “30,000 polgyons.” Chill out, you.

7:12: Blow’s new game, The Witness, will start on PS4 only. Colin reports that “some people haven’t looked up from their laptops or phones in several minutes.”

7:09: Hahaha Jonathan Blow, the creator of independent art games like Braid, just came out and insulted everyone who just showed off games full of explosions.

7:07: Oh, it’s a sequel to Infamous. Hm. I mean those games are fine but that was an insane intro.

7:04: Uhhhh this took a really weird turn? It’s like an insane libertarian fantasy about combating constant surveillance…and then it turned into a superhero game? What is this

7:03: Take a shot if a sports game is next.

7:01: Verbatim text from Colin: “You drive. And are in a club. Wtf. I will be back soon to drink heavily.”

6:58: Sony’s showing off a game called, I swear, Driveclub. Apparently it’s a group driving game?

6:54: This game is ridiculously violent. I’m not sure we’ve seen anything besides skyscrapers and people dying bloody deaths.

6:51: First game to be shown off is the new Killzone game, to be called Killzone: Shadowfall. It looks very violent! And pretty good, graphically, I guess? It’s not a very innovative-looking game so it’s hard to tell. Seems kind of an incremental step visually.

6:44: Interestingly, this all seems totally focused on add-ons like streaming, sharing, and emulation. We still know basically nothing about the actual PlayStation 4.

6:42: Eventually they want you to be able to stream any PlayStation game, from any system, on any device.

6:40: You’ll be able to remotely play through a level on your device from a game that somebody else owns–that’ll be through Gaikai, the streaming company Sony bought a little ways back. And there’s something called “remote play,” which’ll let you play PS4 games on the PlayStation Vita (which we reviewed here). Sony wants that for every single game.

6:30 Some dude from Gaikai is talking now. Sony is partnering with Facebook and Ustream, calling it “the first social network with streaming.”

6:27: Big social push with the PS4, sort of like Facebook. There are profile pictures and all that kinda stuff. Also you can see your friends playing from all kinds of devices…not sure if that’s something people actually want.

6:24: Love the little things being announced–you can “suspend” games in low power states. Hit the button and you’ll come back to the exact right spot. That means no more “booting” really–resume games instantly! Also, games are playable even as they download–cool!

6:21: Showing an example game that Carney, from Sony, says he “architected.” Looks like a Pixar movie.

6:18: Looks like the controller rumors were exactly right–looks pretty much like what we saw. Has a Share button, plus a stereo camera that tracks via a light bar on top.

6:15: Looks like it has an x86 CPU–that means it’s basically as powerful as a modern PC. Plus 8GB of “unified memory,” whatever that means.

6:10: And it’s officially called the PlayStation 4, which is…not a surprise! Related: what kind of accent is this? Is it maybe Australian?

6:05: Andrew House, a British man with a goatee, is listing buzzwords about games. He really likes games I think.

6:02: It’s starting! There’s a video of controller buttons, then lasers, then a bunch of weird phrases like “Imagination is the one weapon” followed by pictures of Sony’s greatest hits. Also I’m pretty sure a Metric song is playing now.

5:59: [Ed note: I just asked Colin if there was anyone around he’d like to make fun of, publicly, on a post bylined with his name. His response: “no time to list them all. Only two minutes left before it starts.”]

5:53: Or is it the voice of the PS4???

5:51: Soothing voice informs me we have 10 minutes to go. Not sure if it’s a robot or a human voice.

5:50: First sighting of people taking pictures with a laptop! [Ed note: I just told Colin to leave if he feels uncomfortable in such a weird place but he’s sticking it out.]

5:48 There’s a balcony area filled with late people? Or possibly aristocrats? Also I’m pretty sure I was on Russian TV earlier so if you’re Russian, first of all, привет, second of all, please email me if I was on your TV.

Live From PlayStation Event: Cool Powerpoint Slide

5:46: There is absolutely nothing here except a PlayStation logo everyone is waiting to change into a giant “4.” I assume. There are a few iPad games going on next to me. INTENSE BOGGLE GAME.

5:42: Packed house. There’s a circle of cameras behind me set up in back. This place is huge–there are multiple floors of people!

5 Reasons Why You Should Buy A Mechanical Keyboard

There you are, sitting on your office chair. Feeling comfortable and good about yourself. Let me tell you something. You are lost. You are a nobody. Why? Because you don’t have a mechanical keyboard in your life! Like some evangelical preacher, I have an idea I need to sell you. That is the glory of the mechanical keyboard. If you accept the mechanical keyboard into your life, you could be experiencing increased comfort, improved productivity, and glory! It will change the way you type forever! Don’t just ask me, there are plenty of fanatics that have forever converted from using cheap, rubber-dome keyboards to high-quality mechanicals. I have made a short list of five reasons why you should switch to a mechanical keyboard. I have faith that you will see the light.

The second reason why you need to switch to a mechanical keyboard is ergonomics. Mechanical keyboards generally have higher quality keycaps which are rounded to let your fingers rest on them more comfortably. Traditional laptop keys, with the exception of Lenovo’s, are flat. Flat keys are good for space-saving designs but you not only lose precision, but also comfort. I find flat keys uncomfortable to type on for long periods because I have to hit them “head on” in order not to make an error. Also, it is very easy to hit these keycaps on the corners which will cause your fingers to slip and mis-type. If you hit the corner of a keycap on a mechanical keyboard, you still have a good chance of registering the input. The longer “throw” of mechanical keyboards are also more comfortable for long typing sessions compared to the short engagement point of chicklet-style keyboards. For a long time, I thought the main attribute of an ergonomic keyboard is shape. After using the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic keyboard for 2-3 years and using my Leopold Tenkeyless for about 5 months, I realize that it’s not about the shape. The main reason mechanical keyboards are better is the key switches.

The third benefit is reduced strain. I realize this is closely related to comfort but I felt that this deserved its own section simply because of RSI(Repetitive Strain Injury). We use our computers for hours and some of us do not take RSI seriously. I take good care of my hands. And so should you. For most people, their hands are their livelihood. Hand health is very important if you are a musician, laborer, or athlete. One thing I’ve notice after spending a few months with my mechanical keyboard compared to keyboards of my past is finger pain. I use to get finger pain after prolonged typing on the rubber dome keys. They were all I knew so I didn’t question. It wasn’t until I was in the market for a better keyboard where I found out about mechanical key switches. Subsequently, it wasn’t until I was typing on them for hours until I realized my finger pain was mainly caused by the cheap rubber-dome keyboards. If you are on the computer for hours, or if your profession involves extensive amounts of typing, consider investing on a mechanical keyboard for this very reason. These key switches will reduce finger strain. Your hands will thank you.

The fourth benefit of using a mechanical keyboard is improved speed. A more precise, comfortable keyboard means improved typing speed. I was never a speed typist. Barely being able to type 25 WPM, after a few months of serious training, I can now type 60-70 WPM. Your mileage may vary but you will improve your speed. If not in burst typing, definitely in endurance typing. That’s typing long essays or reports. Wiki has the average typing speed rated at 33 WPM. If you are over this, you are doing very well.

The last and most important reason why you need a mechanical keyboard? They’re fun! That may sound silly to say but after getting one, I now enjoy typing. I like the sound of these Cherry MX browns. Some people like the blues. You can’t go wrong either way. They’re great to type on. Mechanical keyboards have their own unique personalities. From the simple Leopold Tenkeyless to the highly sought after HHKB Pro 2. Typing shouldn’t be a chore. Most people probably won’t be competing on typeracer for leisure, but mechanical keyboards will make you smile. It’s like buying a luxury car. Sure, you don’t NEED leather heated seat with power everything but if you can afford it, why not treat yourself? Especially a tool that you will spend years using. Once you punch the keys, you will see the light

5 Reasons Why Seattle Is The Next Big Startup City

Seattle is a rapidly growing option among the roster of famous startup-friendly cities. Since it isn’t as sizable as San Francisco or New York, it can be easy to forget how many tech heavy-hitters call it home — Boeing, Microsoft, Concur, Bungie, Amazon, Expedia, Zillow, Tableau, Valve, REI, and Alaska Airlines, for example. What’s making the city an increasingly attractive tech community? (Besides the fact that rent prices aren’t quite as sky-high as they are in San Francisco, I mean).

Writing for Geekwire, Tren Griffin weighed in on the elements that a startup city needs and that Seattle has. Here’s a summary of the best points in his opinion piece:

1. Its Neighbors Are Close Enough to Pitch In

Open working spaces; Apple HQ’s intentionally inefficient office layout; and the concept of Silicon Valley — they all rely on being close to others who have similar but different interests. Collaboration makes things happen. That’s why being near significant sources of venture finance is a big boost for an incubator city:

“Have a strong local venture capital community but do not fail to leverage something like the greatest pool of venture capital ever assembled, just two hours away by plane. Given that San Francisco is so close, there is no shortage of venture capital if you have the right team, have created a significant innovation, and target an attractive market.”

2. The University of Washington

A good startup city needs a top-tier research university:

“As Warren Buffett says, if you’re sitting in the shade on a hot day it is because someone planted a seedling long ago. The number of seedlings like the Technology Alliance that Bill Gates Sr. planted in his community over the years is stunning.”

3. A Culture of Community

Seattle’s history of moderately benevolent public figures meshes well with the tech community’s emphasis on public service and making the world a better place. There list of examples here is long enough to turn into some confusing word salad, but it’s pretty convincing:

“Develop business leaders who are also community leaders like Eddie Carlson, Jim Ellis, Mary Gates, and Bill Gates Sr., Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Craig McCaw and his brothers, The Nordstrom family, Howard Schultz, Tom Alberg, Rich Barton, Jeff Raikes, Nick Hanauer, Pete Higgins, Mike Slade, Dan Levitan, Satya Nadella, Brad Smith.”

Pike’s Place and Dick’s Drive-In are also great examples of the small business culture that keeps the tech world healthy.

4. Don’t Look Down on Startups

“The startup life is not for everyone, but the people who do work for one should be treated like everyone else. They are no better or no worse than anyone else. Many people would be surprised how many cities look down on people who work at startups.”

Seattle’s culture is definitely less focused on traditional or blue-collar jobs, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have room to grow. I’m from the Seattle area, and can confirm that people in the tech community can be just as pompous and arrogant as they are humble.

5. It’s Still Young

This one sounds a little counter-intuitive: Of course the emerging startup city is going to be young. But being youthful is a great way to ensure that every startup matters. Startups need to produce a real product that people will pay real money for, and that’s easier for startups to remember when the culture that surrounds them is still a little on the skeptical side.

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