The dualsense makes the most of the opportunities that a new console generation provides the successor to the dualshock 4 has a stark new look and a redesigned that’s easier on the hands which makes it a fundamentally better more interesting controller.
It also has some next-gen swagger beautifully implemented next-gen haptics and adaptive trigger resistance. Create opportunities for more immersive experiences through tactile feedback both a careful evolution and a big innovative leap forward. The dual sense sets a strong new standard for console controllers.
PS5 Dualsense Controller
Design and Features
Though the overall shape has changed just slightly, it has longer beefier handles which rest and fit in your hands better because there’s simply more controller to grip weighing 282 grams. It’s considerably heavier than the dualshock 4’s 215 grams that weight is well balanced though and ultimately leads to a more comfortable feeling as you hold it aesthetically the dual sense feels like a dramatic shift from the dualshock 4.
Its smooth curves and two-tone color scheme feel like a paradigm shift after three generations of discrete single color sony gamepads and there’s an incredible attention to detail from the way the side panels flare up just a little bit on either side of the touchpad to the textured grip on the back panel which is actually made using tiny almost indistinguishable versions of the playstation face button shapes.
The layout of the dual sense comes over intact more or less from the dualshock 4 but there are some interesting new changes to some of the buttons as well as new features that enhance gameplay in exciting ways. The buttons and d-pad push back faster than their predecessors and have a little bit more travel, both of which make them feel less squishy and provide a better sense of feedback.
While I wouldn’t call them clicky, there is a clear sound and feeling when you fully press the face buttons or the d-pads in the center column the share button has been replaced with a create button which pulls up a system level menu that lets you choose between taking screenshots recording a clip of what just happened or starting a new recording.
The dualshock 4 touchpad returns but it’s now matte white with an RGB light bar around the rim. Below that the speaker returns alongside a logo shaped PS button you have the new built-in microphone, the mic looks like a tiny dot on the outside but is capable of picking up anything and everything directly around it in at least one game it also technically adds extra control options in astros playroom.
You’re asked to blow into the mic to advance at certain points but if you find the idea of having a hot mic in your hands unnerving there is thin clear mic mute button just below the PS logo. If you swing around back the biggest most exciting changes deal with the triggers L2 and R2 are longer with a deeper pull which I imagine help maximize the impact of dual’s sense’s two most substantial new features.
Precision haptic feedback and the so-called adaptive triggers which create resistance in them to simulate tension or otherwise provide physical feedback. Though the haptics are present throughout the controller the most interesting precise feedback comes through the triggers. The two features working in tandem make the riggers the center piece of the dual sense.
They aren’t just critical inputs but the primary conduits through which you feel what a game is trying to tell you, also on the back the dualshock 4’s light bar has been removed and the micro USB charging port has been replaced with a USB C port battery life is still a low point on the dual sense in my personal testing I found the controller lasts around 10 to 13 hours which is long enough that you don’t need to charge it every day but short enough that you’ll frequently find yourself running low on power.
Finally, at the bottom of the gamepad you have a 3.5 millimeter audio jack for wired headset and copper pickups which allow to connect to sony’s charging.
The leap from the dualshock 4 to dualsense truly feels like a next-gen experience in playing some of the PS5’s launch lineup including astros playroom spider-man miles morales and bug snacks. The refined design and new features of the dual synths do wonders for PlayStation gaming.
Independent of the new features the dual sense is sony’s best controller to date, its larger chassis and longer handles fit better in your hands making it easier to hold for long stretches. Its buttons are more responsive and have a more satisfying press and the grip while only very slight is enough to hold your hands in place even when they get sweaty.
Even if it couldn’t do anything new, it would still be a huge upgrade but of course the dualsense does do a lot of new very impressive things. Astro’s playroom which serves as a showcase for the dual sense’s new and old features shows all kinds of ways in which the haptics and adaptive triggers can be used to make games more immersive and provide a natural sense of feedback.
When Astro draws a bow and arrow or gets ready to slingshot himself into a catapult, you can really feel the tension grow in the triggers as you hold it down allowing you to naturally gauge how charged the launch will be in another moment a large creature walks towards astro and you can feel what direction it’s coming from and how close it gets based on how the controller vibrates to me the most impressive use of the haptic feedback was purely immersive.
In the opening cut scene for spider-man miles morales miles rides the subway and you can feel the train shifting and tilting on your fingers rubbling sensation in the controller diminishes and intensifies as the train turns or shakes because of the train speed. In theory the dual senses microphone is a great equalizer as it means that every PS5 player using a dualsense always has access to a microphone.
In practice, the built-in mic works fine in a pinch but it isn’t a replacement for a good headset. The mic can clearly pick up your voice without having to move the controller too close to your face but it’ll also pick up any noise in your immediate vicinity like a phone ringing or the sound or mechanical keyboard typing notes. The bigger problem I found was that the incoming chat audio from other players comes in through the dual senses internal speaker when you’re using the controller mic.
While the microphone could hear me easily. I found it difficult to hear my teammates over the game audio coming through the TV. Playing in the PS4 version of apex legends on my PS5, my partners and I had to rely primarily on non-verbal communication because I couldn’t always hear them over the sounds of a firefight.
With the dual sense Sony has both made a more comfortable game-pad for traditional game-play and introduced some very exciting new features the haptics and adaptive triggers make an immediately noticeable difference in games that make use of them and they offer the exciting potential for new and interesting game-play experiences. Except for battery life which remain a weak-point, the dualsense controller is everything that you want to see in a next-gen upgrade.