The PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller was revealed to the masses on a random Tuesday a few weeks ago. Something that absolutely no one saw coming. Having recovered from shock of not knowing what hit us and having taken the time to absorb what has been unveiled and falling in love with it, the now calmer and cooler head can see that the DualSense is a lot more than meets the eye. For all the cool tweaks and technological advancements it brings, the message it delivers about Sony’s philosophy going into the 9th generation of consoles is just as amazing. Let’s take a closer look at it, shall we?
Needless to say, the DualSense is a massive departure from the traditional DualShock controllers that we are used to right from the PlayStation 1. But before we get into what this departure means and what Sony is trying to convey with it, we need to appreciate the incredible piece of tech that is the DualSense and what it brings to the table.
First off, let’s talk about the most obvious change which is the DualSense’s design. And I don’t mean just the Futuristic look or the colour scheme that is reminiscent of a PSVR headset. Look closely and you can find various little quality of life improvements with this controller. The curvier shape of the DualSense for example gets rid of the more bulky and rigid feeling edges of the DulaShock 4 providing more comfort for the one using it. Also, the protruding undersides of the left and right sticks are gone and integrated within the body of the controller. The lightbar, which most people hated, and served very little purpose outside of PSVR is now gone.
And finally, and this one is long overdue, the USB port is now Type C. All of these minor changes should make for a more comfortable user experience. But the change don’t stop there. The new two-tone colour scheme and the general aesthetics of the controller seem made solely for the purpose of crazy customizations to the controller. The internet is already going nuts with various interesting design ideas by fans, and a few of them are here below.
Here’s hoping that Sony has its own outlet like Microsoft to help players make their own custom DualSense. While this is something we can only wish for at the moment, what we don’t have to wish for are what is new with the DualSense. Here is the list of..
Perhaps the most touted feature by Sony and the one that provides the DualSense its namesake is its Haptic Feedback. Gone are the rumble motors from the older DualShocks. The DualSense features updated rumble motors that simulates game environments like the terrain the player is passing through and passes feedback to the player. This feedback also extends to the triggers as mentioned by a Sony executive with shooting a bow for example. When the button is pulled back it reflects the tension of a real bow, with more and more tension as you push back. This feature can be exploited in various other ways like adding various degree of weight to various types of guns and swords in different games.
Also new to the controller is the Create button, which is an evolution of the Share button in the DualShock 4. Not much has been revealed about its functions but it is safe to assume that this will open the doors to much more creative aspects of making your own content on the fly and sharing it with the world, rather than just record and share like in the PS4. Oh, and there is an in-built microphone for those quick conversations you need to have without having to look for a headset when your gaming crush logs in and you need to say Hi. So, these are the features that have been revealed. But there are a couple of…………
It has been confirmed that the DualSense still has the 3.5mm headphone jack (thank heavens for that). But will it be able to output the PS5’s 3D audio that Sony is implementing in the console. I am hoping that the answer to this question is Yes. Because Sony’s bet on the 3D audio tech will be redundant if there will be a need to invest on special audio devices that can relay the audio as intended. And this is a lot more important than you think, which we will get to in a minute.
The second unanswered question – “Is there a back button?” or buttons or L4 and R4 or whatever you want to call it. The back-button attachment for the DualShock 4 sure raised some eyebrows when it was released so late into the PS4’s life cycle. Many had speculated that this may be a move to help the DualShock 4 reflect the then speculated “DualShock 5” which could have two back buttons as standard. And this made sense, considering the popularity of back paddles and special controllers among hardcore gamers, and Xbox’s lead in that game with the elite controller. While some industry figures have confirmed that the buttons do exist, it does make one scratch their heads as to why this was not revealed. Are there going to be two versions of the DualSense, one with and one without the back-buttons? Or is Sony just keeping some secrets to reveal another day. If so, how many more unannounced features can we expect from the company for the DualSense and the PS5. I guess, as has been the norm this generation, we have to wait and watch.
So, those were all that needed to be discussed about the DualSense’s features. But what does such a radical change mean coming from company that has been known to stick to traditions right from the beginning of its console game business? Are we looking at a bolder, more open-minded PlayStation brand? It certainly does look like it. Right from Sony’s approach towards marketing and revealing information about the PS5, to its outlook towards new features implemented in the console.
The company’s philosophy certainly looks to have taken a different, more grounded direction. Gone are the tacky and shoehorned feeling features like the lightbar and touch pad (Yes, the lightbar had a purpose, although very minimal and the touch pad still exists on the new controller). Sony is now looking at features that improve quality and immersion. Honestly, both the lightbar and touchpad felt like a gimmick to me when the DS4 was unveiled.
But the haptic feedback on the DualSense makes sense (no pun intended). Particularly when you consider the implementation of 3D audio which would compliment haptic feedback so well. This was the reason I expressed that it was really important that the 3D audio works on normal speakers or at the very least headsets. Because the combination of two genuinely feels like it will elevate the gameplay experience in new ways. Coming back to Sony’s outlook, Sony’s new approach is also very obviously reflective on the design choice of the DualSense with Two tone colours, and removal of colours from the face buttons like in the PSP and PS Vita.
Will this approach extend to the PS5 and, if so, what other innovation will the new console bring? These are yet to be seen. But, all of these questions sure do amp up the hype as the rumoured late May reveal for the PS5 approaches fast. I, for one, cannot wait for it.
Image Credits: https://blog.eu.playstation.com/2020/04/07/introducing-dualsense-the-new-wireless-game-controller-for-playstation-5/