During a Black Friday sale, I bought a blue DualShock 4 for the rather low price of $40 even though I don’t (yet) have a PlayStation 4. This is because I’d played with it extensively at a friend’s house and really liked it. For the best compatibility with games, the better choice might’ve been the Xbox 360 controller, but that’s less compatible with the Macintosh architecture itself, and comes with it’s own set of problems. I knew it’d be a hassle now and then, but I was willing to give the DualShock 4 a shot because of how great it is as a controller (but more of that in a future article). With the right tools, you can even get the DualShock 4 to work with games that don’t natively support it. Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first though:
Out of the box:
The DualShock 4 doesn’t actually come with a cord in the box. It simply uses a Micro USB cable though, so you may not need to buy one if you already have a phone that uses one to charge. This cord will charge the controller as well as provide connectivity if you opt not to use Bluetooth. Simply plug the controller into your Mac and you’re set. To my knowledge, you won’t need any drivers or setup.
Connecting your DualShock 4 wirelessly is almost as simple. Just turn on your DualShock 4 in the presence of your Mac (hit the PlayStation button between the two sticks). In a moment your Mac will prompt you to accept the pairing. Your controller should now be connected. To disconnect the controller without losing your settings, simply click on the Bluetooth icon in your Mac’s menu bar, find ‘Wireless Controller’ or ‘DualShock 4’ under the list of devices, and choose to disconnect it. This will also turn off the controller automatically. If you want to turn off the controller otherwise, you’d have to hold the PlayStation button until the lightbar turns off (around 5-10 seconds).
Some games work straightaway:
Here are some games and apps I know from personal experience to support the DualShock 4 natively:
- BioShock (our review)
- BioShock Infinite (our review)
- Valkyria Chronicles (how to get it to work on a Mac)
- Shovel Knight (our review)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (our review)
- OpenEmu — for use with emulated games
As a general rule, games that were ported to Mac by Feral or Aspyr and are/were at some point on console are compatible with the DualShock 4. In the case of Feral, you can even email them if you want and they’ll give you a .plist file you can insert into their games to add DualShock 4 compatibility if it doesn’t fully work straightaway. You can find a list of some more Mac games at this link, but it isn’t comprehensive and I come across more and more fully-compatible games on a consistent basis. Note that most games, even if they work perfectly fine with DualShock, still show Xbox 360 button prompts on screen. It may be annoying at first, especially if you aren’t familiar with the Xbox controller, but you’ll get used to them eventually. I made a little PDF chart showing the corresponding inputs, but it’s pretty self-explanatory anyway.
If the Mac keeps going to sleep while in gameplay:
With certain games (Half Life 2 and BioShock Infinite, among others) the Mac doesn’t recognise the DualShock 4 as a valid input method, so it will fall asleep after a few minutes, thus interrupting your gaming session. To circumvent this, installing a free little app called Caffeine comes in handy. Basically, while it’s running, the Mac can’t go to sleep. Just make sure the little coffee cup icon in your menu bar is actually filled with coffee, or the app isn’t actually running.
If a game doesn’t work:
Hope is not lost! If the game doesn’t actually use the mouse cursor (i.e. camera control and weapon aiming is fine), you can still control it with the DualShock 4 using a little app called Joystick Mapper ($5 on the Mac App Store). I’d also recommend using Joystick Show ($1 on the Mac App Store) to figure out what buttons correspond to what number as well as to ensure your controller is connected and working. Here’s what it looks like in action:
Basically, you can map buttons and axis changes to specific keyboard keys, mouse buttons, and mouse motions. It all works really well, and sometimes when I’m lazy, I actually use it to be able to lean back and surf the web! I used this setup to finish the last few hours of Skyrim, and also played the entirety of Spec Ops: The Line this way, so it’s certainly effective, if a little bit cumbersome to set up. I encountered some issues using it with Fallout 3, which is a PC game I set up to work using Wineskin. Maybe the combination of emulated Windows as well as emulated keyboard and mouse simply confused the computer!
Sometimes, you’re just out of luck:
Like I said above with Fallout 3, sometimes a game simply won’t support your DualShock 4. Sometimes it has to do with glitchyness (Fallout 3 + Wineskin) or sometimes a game just relies on the mouse too much. For example, there’s no reason why you can’t use the DualShock 4 and Joystick Mapper to play Civilization V, but you’re really just better off using the mouse to click around.
That’s it! A general guide to get your DualShock 4 working with your favourite Mac games! What do you think? Do you have a DualShock 4? Have you had any luck gaming with it on a Mac/PC? Tell us in the comments!
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Until next time, be sure to check out our other videogame-related articles!