PlayStation VR Aim Controller Hardware Review – Right on Target
A peripheral for a peripheral; the PlayStation VR Aim controller is entering a tough market and doesn’t just need to pass muster, but prove itself as yet another necessary add-on as it sits at the far point (pun totally intended) of the buyer’s mind. Sony first needs to convince people to get a PlayStation 4. Then it needs to sell them on PlayStation VR. Then, somehow, they’ve got to say that this PlayStation VR gun peripheral is worth purchasing to enhance the experience. It’s already a limited playerbase that will even be considering the Aim, and it surprisingly proves itself as a worthy accessory to heighten the already impressive virtual world, something that every PSVR owner should seriously consider.
Let’s get the looks out of the way. Alright, so the Aim controller isn’t an AR-15 lookalike. In fact, yes, it looks like a bunch of PVC piping stuck together, but I’ve come to appreciate the Aim’s minimalist and modern design. It appeals to all users and uses, meaning that although its design is that of a gun, other developers can utilize it for their games without feeling the need to only use it as a “gun.” It can take the place of fun and zany weapons, such as in Dick Wilde. It could even take the place of a fire hose or something similar, realistically anything that requires you to aim.
Besides, the Aim controller actually looks like whatever the developer wants it to. In Farpoint, it’s an assault rifle or a shotgun or an alien plasma rifle. It’s easy to make fun of the white tubular design, but in the end, the aesthetic of the Aim controller evokes the feeling that it is a piece of tech rather than a toy in the way that a fake plastic gun would, and I’d much rather have tech than toys sitting around my home.
Many have criticized the Moves for their bulbous light orbs and the ridiculous look, but Sony is going all in on the light recognition it seems. From the DualShock 4, to the PSVR headset itself, Sony’s tracking is centered around these lights, so it makes sense that the Aim would follow suit. While I would hope for a better tracking system in the future of PlayStation VR, the Aim controller fits right in with doing an excellent job at precisely tracking motion of the controller and translating that into the game.
More Than a Controller
Farpoint can be played with either a DualShock 4 or the Aim and is the most effective test for the capabilities of the Aim versus a standard controller. The Aim is equipped with every button the DualShock 4 has, including the touchpad (though it does not replicate the touch functionality, only the button). This means that the Aim can effectively be patched in to work for almost any VR title that needs it without any special caveats made around the available inputs. It becomes optional rather than required, which in turn increases the chances that developers will develop with it in mind, and we all know support is going to be the most important factor in its success.
As mentioned in my Farpoint review, it is a vastly improved experience with the Aim controller. Not only is the immersion set at another level by feeling an actual gun in your hands when you are holding one in game and seeing it track to your exact movements, but the orb on the end allows for a greater range of motion and aiming that is not possible when the DualShock 4 lightbar needs to stay facing the camera to work.
Playing with the DualShock 4 limited my range of play. Anything outside of that would ruin tracking and usually get me killed. Though the Aim does have limitations set up by the inherent nature of PlayStation Camera’s tracking (such as if you have to turn fully around and the camera can no longer see it), it does a far better job at mitigating these limitations than the DualShock 4 does, allowing me to aim further up the air, and spin further around to the side while still giving me precise aim at my targets.
Light as a Feather
I’ve heard concern about the Aim controllers weight over long play sessions, but it wasn’t ever a problem for me. Neither does the controller feel cheap and flimsy however. It’s got a solid construction that doesn’t feel like it will break in your hands and never felt like a chore to hold, even after four hour long play sessions in Farpoint. A player would likely experience similar fatigue (or lack thereof) whether using the Aim controller or a DualShock 4. In fact, the DualShock 4 might present more problems from the awkward way you need to hold up the controller unnaturally, whereas the Aim feels like an intuitive and natural tool in your arsenal.
It should be noted that although it has the full functionality of a DualShock 4, it registers on your PS4 as the Aim controller, and as of my testing with a number of non-VR games, the Aim controller did not seem to register any of the inputs, so you won’t be using the Aim to play Destiny or Overwatch.
VR is all about immersion, and the Aim controller should be seriously considered by anyone that has PlayStation VR. It takes virtual reality to another level of presence, allowing you to get a tactile feel for your weapons in the game. It’s design as a full DualShock 4 doesn’t limit its usability in the way the joystick-lessMove does, so I would expect to see future games support the peripheral rather easily. There are currently five games announced to support it, and E3 will likely tell us more about future compatibility.
Playing with the Aim controller made me go from just wanting games like Dead Space and Doom in VR, to needing these experiences to be made. I can only imagine dismembering necromorphs with the precision that Aim provides, or relishing in the hearty splash of guts from an up close shotgun blast on a demon. This controller provides the gateway to elevate experiences to the next level of immersion and take VR to places we can only dream about.
Aim Controller review unit provided by publisher. Reviewed using Farpoint. All PSLS hardware reviews are unscored. For more information on reviews, please read our Review Policy.