5th times the charm
Review by Andrew Wright
The history of Playstation controllers is also the history of the calamity hand cramps. A primal evil that has endured over the ages. Jokes aside, Playstation controllers have never been very well designed. Seriously, the first PS controller ever that came with the first Playstation might be one of the worst controllers ever. It literally didn’t have a control stick. Yep, a machine that was supposed to transition gaming from 2D to 3D didn’t even include a control stick. To fix this, Sony opted to then create a controller they named the Dualshock which added not one but two control sticks to the controller. This controller was pretty good for the ps1 era, but that’s it really. From it’s cheap small plastic feel, to the awkward stick placements, and dumb split D-pad, the Dualshock controller and its followups have never felt good, nor have they innovated. So much in fact that its honestly hard to tell the difference between most of them. The Dualshock 4 controller did add a touchpad, but it was still pretty meh overall, and like the others was pretty flimsy. Enter the Dualsense, the PS5’s new controller, and a revolutionary change for PS controllers.
The first big noticable change about the Dualsense controller is that it doesn’t feel like flimsy plastic. Its actually got some weight to it, and has a longer more curved boomerang like design making it feel great in your hands. It also has a bigger nicer looking touchpad compared to Dualshock 4. They also changed the color (for once) to a cool looking black and white (stormtrooper as fellow ggser Alex calls it), as well as the face buttons to white and grey. The four shoulder buttons on the controller are also bigger and way more comfy to press then Dualshock 4. The sticks also seem to have a better grip, although unfortunately are still sitting together side by side which still isn’t as good as Xbox and Nintendo’s top left bottom right placements. The D-pad buttons similarly feel better to push, but also still opt for the annoying split design. Other then those changes they added a mic that you can turn on and off (so no headset needed to voice chat if you don’t want one), and now the controller charges using USB-C which is great. Overall, the controller feels amazing. It seems like a bunch of care went into actually creating a good feeling controller this time, and the attention to detail is just fantastic (the back of the controller even has a bunch of tiny PS buttons carved into it which is a nice touch).
All of this is just the outside of the controller, the inside of the controller is where things really become revolutionary. First off, the Dualsense’s Gyro aiming is much much better then the Dualshock 4, and is Switch pro controller levels of precise. Next is the controllers haptic feedback, this allows the controller to rumble in different ways depending on what your playing. For instance, in Astros playroom when my character walked on different surfaces such as grass or glass, the controller made it feel like I was actually walking on grass or glass. It adds a great level of immersion and is much better then the HD rumble in the Switch’s controllers. Speaking of immersion is the last feature I’d like to highlight, the adaptive triggers. The adaptive triggers on the controller or kind of like haptic feedback but even better. They as the PS5 site says allow you to ‘Experience varying levels of force and tension as you interact with your in-game gear and environments’. So for instance, in Astro’s Playroom you get a bow powerup and when you pull the trigger to shoot it feels like your actually pulling back on a bow. There is also a rocket mini game in Astro’s playroom that make it feel like your lifting off in a rocket when you pull the triggers. It’s a bit hard to explain so you should try it out for yourself (Astro’s Playroom is fantastic by the way), and you’ll see what I mean. The haptic feedback and adaptive triggers make me very excited to see what other great things devs can get out of them.
Overall, Sony did a fantastic job with the new Dualsense controller. It’s not perfect, the sticks still aren’t in the best place, the D-pad is still split, and the battery life is not good (10ish hours at the most). For some reason the X button on the controller seems to be a bit sticky as well (could just be my controller though). These negatives barely drag down all the good things about this controller though. They actually made the controller feel great to hold for once, and features such as haptic feedback actually make it innovative. Honestly, it has been a long time since Sony or Microsoft made an innovative/defining controller, but Dualsense is just that. I’m extremely impressed with Sony, and when compared to Xbox and Nintendo Sony might have the finest controller in the market now. Coming from the guy who literally hated on every previous PS controller that is some high praise.
Joys: Haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, Weighty and feels good to hold, Mic, USB-C charged, bigger buttons, Control sticks are nice and grippy.
Cons: Stick placements, split D-pad, battery life.
Review Score: 9.5 out of 10