Let’s take a look at that PlayStation 5 controller then

Online mockery aside, the DualSense genuinely feels like a next-gen console controller

Iast week we learned, via the PlayStation Blog, what the controller for the forthcoming PlayStation 5 will look like. The answer: a bit like someone tried to make a console controller out of the busted guts of one of Portal 2’s Sentry Turrets.

Or, maybe you preferred to view Sony’s new wireless offering as the product of an illicit romance between an Xbox One controller and the DualShock 4. Or maybe an Xbox One controller sporting Hulk Hogan’s mid-’90s NWO beard. Let’s just say that the memes came fast, and they came labelled ‘mildly’ to ‘very’ amusing.

You know what, though? Set aside the cynicism that accompanies any internet-based announcement, and there’s a lot about the DualSense – as the new controller is entitled – that’s worthy of your interest. The clue to the controller’s principal aim is in the title, ‘sense’, primarily in the physical understanding of the word.

What this means is that the DualSense will be adaptive to in-game activity. This they’re calling ‘haptic feedback’. Imagine you’re Red Dead Redemption 2’s Arthur Morgan and you’re pushing your horse through thick snow; the DualSense’s buttons will replicate resistance.

Similarly, pulling back an arrow on a bow in Skyrim will replicate increasing tautness. Or maybe the pressure needed to drive off-road in a future Grand Theft Auto title will need more subtlety than just press and hold. It’s an interesting idea and one designed with immersion in mind. “We want gamers to feel like the controller is an extension of themselves when they’re playing,” reads the blog.

Let’s be honest though: the controller looks nothing like you’d expect a PlayStation peripheral to look. Sony doesn’t do two-tone controllers!

“DualSense marks a radical departure from our previous controller offerings and captures just how strongly we feel about making a generational leap with PS5,” explains Sony Interactive Entertainment president Jim Ryan in the aforementioned blog post. “The new controller, along with the many innovative features in PS5, will be transformative for games – continuing our mission at PlayStation to push the boundaries of play, now and in the future.”

You might like to know that the central touchpad from the DualShock 4 remains, only now there’s a couple of lightbars on either side instead of the one on top. The angle of the triggers is less severe, while the whole handset is rounded out to feel chunkier than what Sony has traditionally packaged with its consoles. Oh, and the ‘Share’ button becomes one entitled ‘Create’, which – while there are no firm details present as yet – does suggest an increased interactivity between you and the games you play, in line with the outward, connected trend we’re seeing within games.

There’s also a built-in microphone meaning A) you no longer need a headset for connected play; and B) you can still be a knobhead troll during FIFA matches if you just can’t help yourself.

There was a bit of internet fuss after the reveal, by players concerned the controller featured no headphone jack (“it still has one,” confirmed PlayStation product manager Toshimasa Aoki on Twitter), while the PlayStation blog stresses that “maintaining a strong battery life” has been a priority, as has keeping the weight of the thing down. There’s a fun rumour doing the rounds that the DualSense’s ‘plates’ might be customisable too. Just a rumour, but one that we heartedly endorse. We’re going to start one that it makes toast too. Go on. Pass it on.

Sony has long delivered with its controllers – there’s an argument we’re willing to make that the original PlayStation controller might be the best ever – so we’re sure that the DualSense will be an excellent bit of kit. What’s really exciting about said device is it suggests that the next generation of games won’t just be receiving a visual overhaul, but one across the board. They won’t just look better; they’ll play so too. DualSense genuinely feels like a next-gen controller.

And yet, what we’d really like to see is, y’know, the actual device that the controllers will be synced up to. Of course we would. We’re excited. Credit to Sony for making us so. At this juncture, it appears that the PS4 has sold over 65 million units more than the Xbox One. Sony doesn’t have to rush anything; with Microsoft having already showed us the Xbox Series X last December, Sony just keeps drip-feeding detailed information, monitoring the responses to their chief competitors’ new machine, letting excitement build.

Still looks like a broken Sentry Turret though.

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