An Illuminating New Use For The PS4 Controller

My greatest hope for the coming next-gen consoles is that they will surprise us. I hope that we haven't guessed all the ways the Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U will use their new hardware to make us play games slightly differently. And what do you know, just today, the people making Thief described a use for the PS4 controller that hadn't even crossed my mind.

Thief is a (likely troubled, hopefully improving) stealth game currently in development at Eidos Montreal. As in a lot of stealth games, it matters whether you're "cloaked" in shadows or "uncloaked" in the light. When you crouch in the shadows, the edges of the screen go dark; at least, that's what the game was doing when I saw a demo of the game back in March.

In a new interview at the PlayStation Blog, Thief producer Stephane Roy described how the PS4's glowing controller will play into this system:

For the DualShock 4, we use the light bar to reflect the light gem in the in-game UI, which indicates if Garrett is in the shadows or not. It creates a nice feeling when you play in the dark to see it illuminate or darken as you move through the environment. Additionally, the touch pad allows for better menu navigation and makes for a more intuitive way to perform various actions, like navigating the map or selecting weapons.

Now, okay. Yes. It's a minor thing. And it might even be annoying in practice. But in theory, I really like the idea of sitting in a darkened room and having the room get just a little bit darker when you crouch in the shadows. It's like the controller-based version of Microsoft's IllumiRoom tech, which (dark secret!) I also think is super snazzy.

This is the kind of thing I'm looking forward to with next-gen consoles. Not so much the graphics or the performance, but little things like The Last of Us' amazing flashlight-wiggle; smart, small touches that make games just a touch more engaging.