PS4 tips and tricks
PlayStation 4 has just celebrated its second birthday but whether that lovely parallelogram has been snug under your TV all that time or if you’ve just got one, there’s always plenty to learn.
A slew of software updates since its release means Sony’s console now has a stack of features hidden up its sleeve that make it unrivalled when it comes to a living room gaming setup.
Whether it’s making the most of sharing and tweeting out your video highlights, or discovering the PlayStation app, we’ve gathered 32 must-know tips to make the most of your PS4.
1. How to set up the PlayStation 4
The PlayStation 4 is a feature-packed console, which means that the setting up process is a bit more complicated than previous consoles.
To make sure that setting up your new PlayStation 4 is as simple as possible, check out our video below showing you the best way to get the PS4 up and running.
2. Make headphones wireless
Well, wireless when it comes to stretching between the sofa and the screen that is. A 3.5mm jack handily positioned on the DualShock 4 means you can plug your own headphones or headset into the controller.
The default setting is for chat audio only but this can be easily tweaked by holding down the PS button in game and selecting ‘adjust devices’ on the resulting menu. Select the ‘output to headphones’ option and choose ‘all audio’.
Voila, no more anti-social TV noise, you’re surrounded by the ambient noise of Fallout 4′s Commonwealth and, if you have an inline mic you can use this for in game chat or even commentary recording for Twitch.
3. Use your phone as a keyboard
Previously it was a serious slog to enter messages using the analogue sticks on PS3, with only an ugly wireless keypad peripheral available to ease the pain.
Thankfully, PS4 delivers a choice of interfaces and, as well as a helpful touchpad input, allows you to use the PlayStation App as a second screen for text entry. With your phone and PS4 on the same Wi-Fi network you can pair them via the PlayStation App connection settings on the PS4.
Then, with both logged in to the same PSN ID, select the second screen option, choose the keyboard icon at the top left and, as if by magic, PlayStation messaging becomes fun again. Thanks to the latest update, there’s even mascot themed stickers in there for when words just aren’t enough. Yep, say it with Sack Boy.
4. Pre-load your games
Why wait? We live in the 21st century don’t we? All pre-orders available on the PlayStation Store now come with the ability to pre-load your digital games.
This means files are available to download several days before the release date and you won’t be left watching a loading bar while all your stone age/physical release-buying friends leave you in the dust when the clocks hit midnight.
Make sure your console is set up for automatic downloads while in rest mode and your PS4 will do all the work for you and start downloading as soon as files become available. It’s worth keeping in mind too that there needs to be enough space on the PS4 HDD so check the file size to make sure the game will be there when you need it.
5. Start remote playing
If the last entry wasn’t enough of a reason to stay in bed then the remote play features of PS4 should seal the deal. Whether someone else wants the TV or you just fancy playing 8th gen games in the bath, the capability to stream to the PlayStation Vita is a slick process that just requires you to have both devices signed into the same PSN ID.
You can connect directly to the PS4 or via your wireless network if you are too far away from the console itself. Make sure that ‘enable turning on PS4 from network’ is selected in your power save settings and you’ll be able to turn on the PS4 remotely from the Vita. Sony might not be focussing on as many handheld games these days but the excellent remote play control set ups for Fallout 4 and Destiny are reassuring additions that suggest all is not lost.
6. Use your Vita as an extra DualShock
If you’ve not shelled out for an additional controller yet and fancy some two player action on PS4 then you’ll be happy to hear that your trusty Vita doubles up as an additional DualShock.
Set up remote play as usual with the Vita. This will automatically turn off any connected controller and allow the handheld to control the on screen action. When you want a friend to join in, have them press the PS button on the DualShock and log in as another user or guest and you’ll have co-op Lego Marvel on the go in no time.
Not got a Vita? Time for one of the 20th Anniversary DualShocks or even the fetching Darth Vader version to celebrate the release of Star Wars: Battlefront.
7. Record your skills
PS4, whether you tell it to or not, always diligently records the last 15 minutes of your gameplay just in case you perform some incredible feat and fancy showing it to the world.
To hoard a period of gaming history after your ‘I can’t believe I just did that’ moment all you need to do is hit the share button and opt to save the video to your captures folder.
If you actively want to record something coming up, press the share button twice to start recording, then press it once when you want to end the clip.
Again, this can only be up to 15 minutes in length. PS4 also allows you to use an external capture device for longer recordings but in order to record gameplay you’ll have to disable HDCP. Go to ‘settings’ and then ‘system’ where there is an ‘enable HDCP’ box to uncheck.
8. Take easy screenshots
The default setup for the share button means that a quick press will bring up the share menu and a longer press is needed to take a screenshot.
However, an ‘easy screenshots’ mode is available that allows you to reverse the settings and means you’ll never have to leave the action if you want to take a quick snap of the scenery/carnage. This setting can be found within the options menu of the share screen.
Plus, thanks to the 3.0 update, you can now choose whether you save screens as a .jpg or .png file for even better image quality. This can also be found in the share settings.
9. Start sharing
Sharing is caring and everyone definitely wants to see your gaming prowess. Screenshots can be uploaded to both Facebook and Twitter with a press of the share button, and video capture can go to both social networks and YouTube.
While Facebook and YouTube videos can be up to that 15 minute recording length, Twitter only allows you 10 precious seconds of footage. Once you’ve saved your video clip, head into your captures folder and hit the ‘options’ button and select trim.
Here you can edit down to those perfect ten seconds. And don’t worry, there’s the option to save it as a separate clip so you won’t lose the original video. Also, if you want to share to YouTube, you can link your PSN account by adding your account in the ‘link with other services’ option in your PlayStation network settings.
10. Get livestreaming
Twitch, Ustream and YouTube Live are all supported by PS4 so it’s ridiculously easy to get your gameplay online. A press of the share button in-game will give you the option to stream to one of the three platforms and a helpful settings screen allows you to add footage and audio from the PlayStation Camera, display comments from viewers and change the quality of the upload depending on your network speeds.
Plus, it’s not something Sony appears to have told anyone but some games even allow Twitch viewers to have a say in the action. It’s not quite Twitch plays Dark Souls (thankfully) but commenters can interact with the 2013 Tomb Raider and decided on Lara’s fate when she is injured and indie horror Daylight can be made scarier by user comments. Maybe it’s for the best that everyone’s forgotten.
11. Prepare for Project Morpheus
The Daft Punk style headset has an HD 1920×1080 OLED display, a 120hz refresh rate and 3D audio to fully get your head in the game. Plus, if you’ve still got your Move wands, hold onto them as those spongy colourful balls were invented with VR in mind and built for tracking.
Sony has revealed that over 200 developers are currently working on VR projects and more than 50 titles are confirmed for launch. From horror coaster Until Dawn: Rush Of Blood to Crytek’s Robinson: The Journey, there’s going to be a lot to experience when we finally get our eyes on the potential future of gaming.
12. Use the Share Factory
While you can of course upload your footage as it is, the Share Factory is a free native editing app to give you more personalisation for your videos.
It’s especially perfect if you don’t have an editing PC but want to get creative, as this is where you can add commentary, soundtracks and effects to your footage. You can add a unique PS4 intro and outro to each video you post and it delivers a user friendly interface for editing and splicing clips together.
While there are your usual transitions included in the app, the PlayStation Store has a collection of free game themes that include custom transitions, stickers to include and unique intro and outros. Want the original PSOne intro music for your work or some Destiny-themed art and clips? Get downloading. Plus, videos can be uploaded directly to Facebook or YouTube without even leaving the app.
13. Be social and add groups
Hooking up your PS4 to Facebook is a great way of importing a profile photo and ensuring easy sharing with friends without having to make much of an effort.
It also means your real name can now be revealed to the world if you accept specific requests from your PSN friends. Plus, a Facebook settings page allows you to make sure that you aren’t spamming friends with every single trophy pop and you can easily personalise who sees what activity.
A new feature also means you can now gather your PSN friends into groups. Got a raiding crew for Destiny? Add them all to one group and you’ll know where everyone is and can easily party chat with the group. You can even personalise an avatar for the team which can be easily accessed in your friends section.
14. Charge while you sleep
While in rest mode – indicated by sleepy orange lighting – the PS4 is happy to download updates, games and, usefully, charge those ailing DualShocks. Make sure that ‘supply power from USB ports’ is selected within your power savings settings and you shouldn’t find yourself running out of juice after an hour’s game time.
Also worth keeping in mind is the fact that the DualShock uses a micro USB socket. In a revolutionary life hack, this means compatible USB phone chargers will let you charge a controller on the fly without having to stretch a cable from the console. No more perching on the edge of the sofa with a taut cable or, even worse, sitting on the floor.
15. Use voice commands
Not just a feature of the Xbox One‘s Kinect, PS4 also responds to voice commands. Prefacing each statement with "PlayStation" you can tell the PS4 to take screenshots, play games (by saying the game name and then "start"), go back to the home screen, select applications and power off.
Excellent recognition software even means it’s possible to say different versions of a game name ie. "Syndicate" or "Assassin’s Creed" and the PS4 will respond accordingly. There is a mic built into the optional PlayStation Camera but this will work equally well with the headset microphone. Voice commands can also be used in games such as Thief, which allows you to sneakily whistle to distract guards.
16. Quick-switch between your apps and games
It’s not full multitasking but if you want to flick between applications on the PS4, a double tap of the PS button will quickly switch between the two most recent apps.
This means if you are checking the trophies required for an elusive platinum you can switch easily between the game and the trophy application without having to go to the home screen and trawl along to the desired section.
As a side note, if you press the home button once mid game, the game will be paused and you are free to browse to other settings without the game closing.
17. Make the most of PS Plus
PS Plus is essential if you want to play online on PS4 but thankfully it comes with plenty of perks for the £39.99 ($49.99) price tag.
There are two guaranteed games for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita each month and always plenty of discounts available on new games. Fresh games appear on the first Wednesday of the month (Tuesday in North America) and will be free until the first Wednesday of the following month so make sure you check in with the selection during that time.
Helpfully, there is an "add to library" option so you don’t need to fill your PS4′s HDD unnecessarily just to get the latest titles. The games will always be yours as long as your subscription lasts. As well as 10GB of online cloud storage for your saves, PS Plus also gives you access to Share Play where you can let your friends try your games online without them actually owning them. More on that in a bit.
18. Download games remotely
Not just a pretty keyboard accessory, your phone can also set your PS4 to download new games while you are out and about. Using the PlayStation Store on the PlayStation App you can browse for new content and, if your PS4 is on standby with its power save settings with ‘connect to the internet’ selected, then you can set games downloading immediately after purchase so they are ready for you when you arrive home.
Just head to the download list once you have bought a game or redeemed a code and select the option to download to your PS4. You can even see once it’s downloaded as it will disappear from the download queue. Hello, future. Alternatively, use the app to stalk your friends and see how many of them are playing Fallout 4 instead of actually ‘working from home.’
19. Do touch
Initially a questionable addition to the DualShock 4, the touch pad is a surprisingly useful interface now that developers have started to embrace more interesting uses.
First party games such as Killzone Shadow Fall use the pad for control of the OWL Drone while Infamous Second Son utilises it as a finger print scanner. Plus, if you’re looking for some touch controlled air hockey – exactly what your eighth gen console was made for – look no further than the ridiculously addictive version within the free AR PlayRoom application. You can also flick robots from your controller in a considerably more surreal version of your living room.
20. Turn down the light bar
Unavailable as a feature at launch but implemented at the request of the community after TV reflection issues and questions about battery life, you can now change the brightness of the light bar on theDualShock 4 between three settings.
While it can’t be turned off entirely due to its use by the PlayStation Camera for recognition, if you hold the PS button and select ‘adjust devices’ you’ll find the menu to let you select between bright, medium and dim settings.
21. Get moving
The PlayStation Move wand and its accompanying motion controller are both compatible with PS4. It’s worth noting that Move on PS4 is not compatible with the PlayStation Eye PS3 camera and now uses the optional PlayStation Camera instead.
Make sure the controller is calibrated properly before each use to minimise any changes you need to make once the game has loaded up. And ready those Move wands because you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to PlayStation VR which uses two of the controllers as replacement hands for some virtual reality experiences.
Demos such as The Getaway replace the wands with dual pistols in game as you hurtle along a motorway, desperately trying to evade Russian mobsters on motorbikes.
22. Don’t be camera shy
It might be an optional extra but investing in the Wall-E alike PlayStation Camera brings the PS4 a number of exciting extra features as well as the standard movement control for games such as Just Dance.
You can teach the PS4 your facial features from various angles and it will always log you in automatically if you are holding the controller. Ideal, as even if you have a number of registered users sitting on the sofa together, the PS4 will cleverly pair the light bar up with the face above the DualShock.
The PlayStation Camera is also excellent for adding both audio and video during live streams and is even used by games such as Until Dawn to take pictures of you at its most frightening moments. Just what you always wanted.
23. Admire your trophy cabinet
If your desire for shiny treasures resembles Lara Croft’s then the trophy section on PS4 is a very attractive glistening cabinet of precious metals.
Not just allowing you to see your own achievements, PS4 lets you see the rarity of each individual trophy on a worldwide scale. Ranging from common to ultra-rare, you can see the percentage of other players who have unlocked a particular achievement.
Comparing with friends is now within the app itself, so you can measure up to your PSN rivals with a press of a button. A new update also means that there’s no need to scrabble to take a screenshot just as you get a trophy. The PS4 automatically takes an image as the silverware pings. A perfect photo finish.
24. Visit the library
Storing all your purchased apps and games, the Library section is where you can view everything linked to your PSN ID without the hassle of having to visit the store and check your downloads. All your DLC is here too and if you are looking for other related items, then you’ll find them as well as your recent activity and your trophy progress in game. It’s an ideal place to find everything in one location.
25. Set up a passcode
If you’re looking for an extra layer of security that isn’t just your face then you can easily set up a passcode in your login settings.
Parental control settings also utilises a passcode procedure where you can restrict games, applications and Blu-Rays that have age ratings, disable the internet browser and block user generated video and pictures. You can also restrict the content shown in the PlayStation Store and set store spending limits to make sure no one’s buying what they shouldn’t.
26. Keep up to date
PS4′s equivalent of your Facebook wall but without the ‘most recent’ problem, the activity feed shows off what your PSN friends have been up to.
In here you can view recently recorded clips, the latest screens,what games and apps are being used, and also who has been on a trophy binge.
27. Watch PlayStation Live
Scrolling along to the end of your line of applications, you’ll find Live from PlayStation where you can watch other PS4 users on Twitch, UStream and YouTube.
A search function means you can hunt for specific games and a handy interactive section means you can choose to opt into participate rather than just view the action from afar. Plus, if you have the particular game that you are watching someone stream there’s a link to start the game yourself if you feel like you could be doing a better job.
28. Add voice overs to your footage
The PS4 is always recording so at any time you can save your previous 15 minutes of footage and start recording more. If you want to voice-over when you’re recording – whether it be to make a walkthrough, a guide or simply goad your mutilated enemies – go Options > Share Settings > Video Clip Settings > Microphone Audio to add your voice over in realtime.
29. Tweak your power settings
To make sure it’s always downloading updates and ensure that you never have to watch a loading bar, keeping your PS4 in rest mode is a great option. This means it’s in a low powered state but always available for downloads from the PlayStation app or any necessary patches.
Having it in rest mode also means that your game can be suspended and resumed without any of that pesky main menu and loading bar nonsense. Just make sure that ‘suspend/resume’ is selected in your power save settings and you can jump straight back into the action.
Plus, if you’re the type of gamer who falls asleep in front of the TV or if you’re prone to just walk off and leave your gear switched on, you can tell your PS4 to auto-poweroff or go to sleep after a set length of time. This is also available in the power save settings.
30. Share play and broadcast your gaming
Just like Steam on PC, your friends can now ask you to share your gameplay for broadcast and you can opt to let only them see, without worrying about the rest of the internet judging.
While this is ideal to show someone what you’ve spent the last ten hours doing, it’s also where the futuristic aspect of the PS4 comes in. If you’re stuck on a particular bit or just want to let them have a shot, this is where your friend can take over with their own Dualshock.
To request to view someone’s gameplay session, just go to their profile and select the game that they are playing and you will get a request to view option. They will then receive a prompt to allow you to watch and share. Bear in mind that this requires a speedy internet connection and the PS4 will run a test beforehand to see if your bandwidth can cope.
31. Save to a USB stick or the cloud
If you always want peace of mind and perhaps a little more space on your hard drive, you can save your game files to a multitude of places. PS Plus subscribers can save space by saving to cloud storage and all PS4 users can save to a USB hard drive.
Head to ‘settings’ and then ‘application saved data management’ to choose where to put the various files on your system. Remember you can also save screenshots and capture to a USB drive to transfer them to a PC or Mac.
32. Use Spotify
In one of the more stealthy updates, streaming service Spotify has sneaked onto PS4′s menu through PlayStation Music and it’s an excellent addition.
Don’t like a game’s soundtrack? Switch it out for something you do like instead by turning down the in game music and popping Spotify on in the background. We can fully recommend adding The Dark Knight movie soundtrack to Rocksteady’s Arkham Knight.
You can fully control the app if you have Spotify on your phone and select the PS4 as a streaming device. Alternatively you can bring up the Spotify menu with a quick double press of the PS button to bring up the volume and the ability to skip songs with R1. You can even pay your Spotify subscription through the PlayStation Network once your free trial period has finished. Pitch perfect.
33. Join communities and events
The latest PS4 update added communities and an events app to the home screen. Communities are where you can meet like minded players who are into the same games or genres as you. Once a part of a community you can see what others are playing, post to a community wall and share tips and tricks for your games of choice.
Once you’ve downloaded the events app, you can see a range of challenges and tournaments that are running and you can compete in the action. There’s even the option to set your PS4 to turn on at the time of events and boot up the game to remind you to take part.
34. Accessorize accordingly
While there’s always been ways to decorate your PS4 with custom vinyl skins and stickers, there’s not been an official way to change its look without heading out to buy a special edition. And as tempting as that Destiny PS4 is, we’d rather not shell out for another console.
Step in official PlayStation 4 face plates from Sony. These custom designs come in neon orange, aqua blue, red and glacier white, with gold and silver incoming in the near future. All you need to do is slide off your original HDD cover and slide on the custom face plate. Ta-da, no worrying about stickers that never come off and a new looking PS4 to match that ridiculous red DualShock 4 you bought.
- Check out our PS4 review