Sony reveal the PS5’s DualSense controller
Sony have been a dominant force in gaming for more than two decades now, and throughout that time have displayed a remarkable consistency in their controller design. Dating all the way back to 1997, when Sony launched the first DualShock controller mid-way through the PlayStation One’s lifespan, up to the current DualShock 4 controller that comes with the PS4, the basic form factor and button layout has remained virtually identical. The DualShock has become an iconic symbol of the PlayStation, and is one of the many reasons why many PlayStation gamers are wedded for life to the console family.
Yesterday, Sony unveiled the PS5’s controller for the first time. With the PS5 looking like a evolution of the PS4, with added power, rather than a complete revolution, it would have been a safe bet that PS5’s controller would continue the DualShock’s rich heritage and be a relatively minor update to the beloved pad.
Instead, Sony have gone back to the drawing board in a radical fashion. Much of what was familiar about the DualShock has been jettisoned, including, perhaps most surprisingly, the name. The new controller has been christened DualSense, in reference to the fact it now includes HD Rumble, similar to the technology incorporated within the Nintendo Switch‘s Pro controller and Joy-Cons. Other new features include a USB-C connection, again a feature found in the Pro controller, and a built-in microphone. This latter development is a particularly welcome one, as it will enable players to use voice chat without the need for headphones whatsoever. The ‘Share’ button the DualShock 4 has been replaced with a ‘Create’ button that serves broadly the same purpose. The button layout remains, as do the number of buttons. This is slightly surprising, as Sony earlier this year released an attachment for the DualShock 4 which added rear paddle buttons to the controller. Many speculated that this attachment would be used to future-proof the DS4 for use on the PS5, assuming that the PS5’s controller would come with back paddles as standard. However, there’s no mention of them in Sony’s official press release, and the images don’t appear to show any.
The big departures come in the controller’s look and form factor. Few people would have bet against an all-black controller as standard, as that’s what’s launched alongside the PS2, PS3 and PS4. However, the DualSense is an eye-catching two colour hybrid, with the joy-stock arrays, shoulder buttons and insides of the handles black, while the rest of the controller, including the central touch pad, is white. The D-pad and iconic four ‘shape’ buttons are all white and appear to be made from see-through plastic. The shapes, it should be noted, are also grey – a small but meaningful change for those who grew up the green triangle, red circle, blue X and pink square.
The DualShock’s basic shape was perhaps its most consistent feature throughout its life, but it’s been radically overhauled here. No longer do the analogue sticks protrude slightly from the bottom of the controller, and no longer do the D-pad and other face buttons site slightly raised above the controller’s handles. Instead, Sony has opted for a design closer to the Pro controller and the Xbox One controller, with a more rounded, flowing shape. It’s hard to say at this stage, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the DualSense was marginally bigger than the DualShock 4 in order to incorporate these changes.
Whatever you think of the changes, it’s hard to argue that it’s not a bold change for Sony, and one that will no doubt add to the excitement around the PS5.