If you’re a mobile gamer looking for new ways to experience your favorite games on the go, you may be pleased to hear that there’s a totally different way to play. You can actually pair controllers from consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One with your phone, which means you can have a console-like gaming session with your smartphone — and yes, that’s as cool as it sounds.
So while you’re perusing your new Apple Arcade account or checking out some of the newest titles on the App Store, you might want to grab your favorite controller from the console of your choice just in case you get tired of using motion controls.
Connecting a PS4 controller to an iOS device is as easy as heading to the Bluetooth menu and putting the PS4 pad into pairing mode. The tricky part for most people is that the PS4 controller doesn’t have a dedicated sync button, so it’s not apparent how to get the pad ready to pair.
Three simple steps to pair a DualShock 4 controller with an iPad, iPhone, or Apple TV are:
- Hold the PS and Share buttons on the DualShock 4 until the light bar begins to pulse white.
- Go to the settings on your iOS device and then enter the Bluetooth menu. The controller should appear as ready to pair as a “DUALSHOCK 4 Wireless Controller.”
- Select the PS4 controller and wait for it to say “Connected.” The flashing light on the pad will turn solid once it’s paired.
One thing to note is that not all the buttons on the DualShock 4 will work with iOS. The Share, Option, PS Button, and Touchpad are unavailable when using a PS4 pad with an iOS device.
It’s a little more straightforward to connect an Xbox One controller to an iOS device. However, you need to make sure that you’re using the third revision of the controller (the one that debuted with the Xbox One S) to pair it, as the first two models did not have built-in Bluetooth.
There are two ways to tell if you have a model of Xbox One controller that will work with iOS. The most obvious is the plastic surrounding the Xbox button. If it’s the same color as the rest of the controller and blends smoothly into the surrounding plastic, it’s likely a newer model pad. If the plastic around the Xbox button is black and separated from the rest of the controller by a ridge extending across the controller, it’s likely an older, non-Bluetooth controller. Newer controllers also have textured grips, which can help distinguish them from older models.
If you have a Bluetooth-capable Xbox One controller, just follow the simple steps below to pair it with your iOS device:
- Tap the Xbox button on the front of the controller to turn it on.
- Hold the small, round pairing button on the top of the controller until the lights surrounding the Xbox button begin to flash.
- Go to your iOS device’s Bluetooth settings and look for the Xbox One controller.
- Tap on the name of the controller to pair it. Once it’s connected, the top left light around the Xbox button should stay illuminated.
Now that you know how to pair a controller, try one out with some of the best games suited for controllers found on Apple Arcade and throughout the App Store, like these great picks.
The Legend of Zelda series is one of the most beloved franchises in gaming, and iOS has its own take on the Zelda formula in Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm. This game is a prequel to the original Oceanhorn and features over 15 hours of action-RPG goodness. Puzzles, dungeons and massive boss fights abound, and you’ll get console-style gameplay in a portable package. Because Oceanhorn 2 requires quite a bit of precision in movement, a controller makes a fantastic adventure even more fun and eases some of the frustration of the trickier parts of the game.
Exit the Gungeon takes the frantic, bullet-hell gameplay of Enter the Gungeon and turns it sideways. You’ll have to ascend the Gungeon rapidly and loot your way to victory or be crushed under the collapsing floors. This isn’t an easy game, and a controller allows you to pull off tricky jumps and shots with a lot more ease than using touch controls.
You’re a sasquatch, and you’ve got to be sneaky, lest humanity should finally discover the missing link. While Sneaky Sasquatch offers up a lot of fun, the stealth gameplay is frustrating with touch controls. Moving the sasquatch through camps and stealing food like a slightly more humanoid Yogi Bear is a lot easier if you have full directional control, and a control pad makes Sneaky Sasquatch a delight.
Like a neon dream, Sayonara Wild Hearts takes you through an interpretive journey of a girl’s heartbreak. While it has entirely serviceable touch controls, some spots require you to respond with breakneck speed. Swiping just doesn’t always have the accuracy to get you out of the way of incoming obstacles, especially in one level where they’re teleported right in front of you.
The Shantae series has been around for over 15 years and went from a sleeper hit to a beloved side-scrolling icon. Shantae and the Seven Sirens continues that tradition, and as such, really needs a D-Pad for you to get the most out of it. If any game on this list deserves to be played with a controller, it’s this one. While you can likely get through it with touch controls without too much trouble, the classic platforming action just screams for a controller.
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