The Sony DualSense sets a benchmark for immersive controllers
The Sony PlayStation 5 offers a next-gen gaming experience and if you have managed to get one for yourself, you would know that it is not just about the new hardware and stunning 4K visuals. The PlayStation 5 also brings the new DualSense Wireless controller which is unlike any other controller on the market. Marketed as an upgrade to the DualShock 4, the new DualSense features an advanced haptic feedback system, adaptive triggers, and a built-in microphone and speaker combo that raises the bar to a whole new level.
First, let’s talk about the new design. The DualSense controller is larger than the DualShock 4 and has a somewhat similar design approach as the Xbox Wireless controller. Like the PlayStation 5 itself, the DualSense features a dual-tone finish with larger shoulder buttons, while the main D-Pad and face buttons have a transparent finish to them. The analog sticks feel right at home and with the rubberized texture, they offer a better grip for your thumbs. The controller also includes the PlayStation button that can be used to quickly jump out of a game while the Share button is now renamed to the ‘Create’ button that lets you easily take screenshots or record games. You continue to get a large touchpad that itself can be used as a button, while the lightbar now surrounds the touchpad giving a very futuristic look. The controller also features a USB Type-C port for charging, a headphone jack to plug in a headset. I know most of you already know this, but the grips on the controller come with a textured finish at the bottom which, if you look really close, are just the PlayStation face icons. Overall, it is larger but you do get a nice grip on it.
The DualSense controller is best experienced in real-life and words can’t entirely explain the impressive haptics Sony has managed to incorporate. As soon as I booted up my PlayStation 5 unit, I saw Astro’s Playroom preinstalled which is a free title made specifically to show-off the capabilities of the controller. The arcade game is actually a lot of fun and with every single movement, you can feel the controller throwing tiny jolts to your hands. The developers have done an excellent job in distinguishing every single material and how it would feel in real life. For instance, when you start the game, Astro is standing on a metal platform with a fan blowing underneath. The subtle vibrations and hum of the fan coming directly from the controller’s speaker give a very immersive experience.
The game also makes full use of the new adaptive triggers which now offer increased or decreased resistance, depending on the game you are playing and the situational context you are in. This is best demonstrated when you enter a level on Astro’s Playroom where you need to get into a jumpsuit and springboard around the map. This gets tricky as you need to be accurate with the actuation before releasing the trigger. You can almost feel the tension of the spring which makes it all the more interesting.
The DualSense controller also comes with a built-in gyroscope that completely augments the gaming experience. By moving and tilting the DualSense wireless controller, you can control certain aspects of the game. This isn’t new, as we have seen similar attempts from Nintendo with the Wii and Switch consoles, but Sony seems to have got better control over how players can make the best use of it, and it has the potential to get better in the future.
Another game that makes use of the amazing tech inside the new DualSense controller is Spider-Man: Miles Morales. The vibrations can be distinctly felt right when the game loads with Miles roaming around the streets of New York and entering a subway train. A lot of the cutscenes also make the controller rumble or just nudge you a little depending on what the scene is.
The DualSense controller also features a built-in microphone, and while it can be used for voice chats in certain games, Sony has taken a step ahead and allowed developers to integrate it for gameplay. For instance, on a certain level in Astro’s Playroom, you need to blow on the controller to move a platform of ice, which is pretty cool. The built-in microphone on the controller allows you to chat with friends in case you don’t have a headset with you. It isn’t the best way to have in-game voice chat, but I get what Sony is trying to do here. It works decent, but only if you have a quiet room as it can pick up sounds from all around.
Sony has also taken a good measure of effort to make the DualSense compatible with a variety of devices. As of now, you can use the DualSense controller with most of your recent Android devices, NVIDIA Shield as well as Steam on your PC. Of course, all of the advanced features including the impressive haptics, would not be supported as they are platform limited and currently only available on newer PS5 titles.
The experience of the amazing haptics and adaptive triggers is going to be limited to only select titles, as game developers do need to make a conscious effort in bringing out the best experience that the tech can offer. However, Sony has put in a solid effort in the hardware to introduce a whole new level of immersion. The DualSense could very well be the most advanced controller and right now it is only the tip of the iceberg as new games in the future could offer a new experience to gamers and alike.
If you’re looking to pick up a Sony PlayStation 5 and perhaps an extra DualSense controller, keep in mind that you can use the DualSense controller with Android, PC, and the NVIDIA Shield TV as well. While you do miss out on the immersion that the new tech within the controller brings along when you use it outside of the PlayStation 5, it still is a very nice controller to play games on.