A Look at the DualSense, the PlayStation 5’s Controller

It’s kind of weird that we’re getting a first look at the controller for the PlayStation 5 but not the actual system. We did get a very long video of how powerful the console is going to be but no official word on its aesthetic appearance. Maybe it’s a part of Sony’s marketing plan or just a smokescreen to make gamers forget about the original gaudy “giant V” design. My colleague makes an argument that it’s a more functional form factor but it’s not very nice to look at, no matter how you slice it.

But let’s ignore that we haven’t actually seen the PlayStation 5 yet and focus on what we have seen, which is the DualSense, the name for the PlayStation 5 controller.

If it weren’t for the blue light, I could swear this was a black and white picture.

The first thing that does grab your attention is its more sleek design over the DualShock controllers Sony had been using in the past. Right now, Sony has released images of the black and white design, which, to be honest, looks a little too sterile. Even the face buttons, which usually have colored images on them, comes off as very plain looking. Of course, this is Sony we’re talking about so I have no illusions that this is the only color scheme the DualSense is going to have. You can bet they’ll make a variety of different colored controllers available in no time.

The handles on the sides do look a little more substantial. I really like how the earlier DualShock controllers felt in my hands but they do feel rather puny and just a tad too light. The curved handles does show you that Sony has been closely observing what the folks at Microsoft are doing as it less resembles the Sony DualShock look and apes Microsoft’s Xbox Series X controller more. The handles do look longer and beefier at first glance but, since we don’t really know the exact dimensions the DualSense has, it’s really hard to tell.

FIGHT!

It keeps the general layout of all the buttons because, well, why mess with perfection? But there are some noticeable differences. The light bar is no more. Instead, we get two little light bars to the side of the touch pad. This is kind of a shame because, I may be in the minority, I do like the large honking light panel on the top of the DualShock 4. This does suggest to me that Sony will not going full force with something like the PlayStation Move system anymore since that system utilized the lights on the controllers to triangulate location and depth.

Speaking of the touch pad, it’s now a more irregular shape rather than the more rectangular one we got in the DualShock 4. I am rather shocked that Sony is still putting this in despite most games just using it as a menu or map button. The only game that I can remember that did use it in some function was Metal Gear Solid 5. And even then, it was just using the left and the right side of the touch pad to do different things. They also made a little change to the traditional PlayStation button as it isn’t a traditional round button anymore. It’s replaced by a molded PlayStation symbol. I’m actually the most concerned about this because the more jagged sides may eventually deform or snag on stuff inside the unit. Then again, what do I know?

The biggest change to the buttons would be the addition of adaptive triggers to the L2 and R2 triggers on the top of the DualSense. This is just fancy speak to illustrate that the buttons will actually push back depending on what it’s supposed to be simulating. The example given was how it would simulate pulling a bow string. This sounds good on paper but I don’t really think many developers will use this feature. Also, and this may be the pessimist in me, but this mechanism is just another unnecessary thing that can break down, rending the controller unusable in the future. I appreciate the idea but it can cause future problems down the line.

Also, they really should have made the triggers a lot deeper.

Another change is that the DualSense, along with the built-in speaker, has a mic installed from the get go. Now, this is a feature I never wanted because I have never, ever wanted to just blurt out something while playing a game and have it recorded by my PlayStation console. There doesn’t seem like a dedicated button to activate it so I’m betting it’ll be part of the new Create button menu options. Basically, the Create button is just the DualSense’s version of the DualShock 4’s Share button. Sony didn’t give out what new features it’ll have, if any, over the current Share button. But I’m not holding my breath that it’ll be a life-changing thing.

The DualSense will have some form of rumble but they’re calling it “haptic feedback” now. Essentially, it’s a more fine tuned version of this generation’s rumble feature as it’s supposed to help build immersion. Think of it like Nintendo Switch’s version called HD Rumble, where you can actually “feel the ice cubes in a glass” or something like that. Looking back now, it feels ridiculous that Sony tried to pass off the SixAxis controller that initially came with the PlayStation 3, doesn’t it? Well, the SixAxis’s big gimmick was that it could determine what axis the controller was at. What happened to that feature, huh, Sony?

The biggest useful change the DualSense got was the switch to USB-C. While I don’t have that many USB-C cables in my home, I do use one for my Nintendo Switch and, I have to say, that form of connection is much better than the current micro USB! The mere fact that there isn’t a wrong way to plug a USB-C in already beats micro USB in a colossal way.

But the biggest things Sony didn’t really discuss is how large the DualSense is, how heavy it’ll be and how it with contour with a person’s hands. These are very important to gamers but all Sony did was show still images of the controller without anyone actually using it! That does seem suspicious, like they themselves aren’t really sure how fans will react to it feeling in their hands. Hopefully they’ll release a video package showing people actually using it.

From what I’ve seen, I can’t really say that the DualSense is going to be good or bad as, like I said, all we know is how it looks like and what are all the bells and whistles it has. But no real word on the real important stuff, like if it feels good to hold or does it have the right heft to it. My first impressions, however, are leaning towards the good side but that can change pretty quickly if there are any reports that it feels terrible when being held.

Now can we look at the actual PlayStation 5, Sony?

What are your thoughts on the DualSense, Sony PlayStation 5’s controller? Let me know what they are in the comments section below!

2 thoughts on “A Look at the DualSense, the PlayStation 5’s Controller

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