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The PS5 is good, but the DualSense controller is what's really blowing my mind
I am one of the lucky buyers who got a Sony PlayStation 5 only a few days after the US launch. I’ve played it every day since I took it out of the box. If you haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, I can confirm that the graphics are awesome and the speeds are incredibly fast. It’s an ultra-powerful console that makes gaming beautiful.
As primarily a PC gamer, though, I’ve gotta be honest in my response to that: yawn. My high-end gaming PC already delivers incredible graphics, smooth framerates, and high speeds. Additionally, I have fast internet at my house, so I’ve played stupid-gorgeous games during my time with Microsoft’s Game Pass streaming and Nvidia GeForce Now. Graphics, speed, and framerates just aren’t that impressive anymore.
There is one thing about the PS5 that truly blows me away, though: the PS5 DualSense controller. It alone is making me reconsider my dedication to PC gaming. I have actually started thinking about buying next-gen PC games on the PS5 instead of through Steam just because of the controller. It’s that incredible.
PlayStation 5 DualSense controller: A wonder to behold
I realize that very few people reading this have had a chance to use the controller. I will do my best to describe why it is so incredible.
First off, the ergonomics of the controller are completely revamped as compared to the DualShock 4 from the PlayStation 4 console. Now, the grips are much more similar to the ones you find on Xbox controllers, which is just terrific. I’ve always liked Sony’s controllers, sure, but the Xbox One controller is the gold standard as far as I’m concerned. Any controller trying to feel as good as that one is A-OK in my book.
Outside of the shape, though, what really makes the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller a masterpiece is the new haptic feedback. For years now, we’ve had rumbling controllers that sync up with what’s happening on the screen, right? The DualSense takes that to a whole new level. Now, the haptic response is so precise and so localized that you can feel even the most minute details related to the game you’re playing.
Sony shows this off in the title included with the PS5: Astro’s Playroom. At certain points during gameplay, it starts to rain. As it rains, the DualSense controller vibrates with tiny precise bursts, replicating the feeling of raindrops on your hand. At another point, you’ll get knocked across the screen by an enemy. When that happens, the vibration hits intensely on one side of the controller, and then moves (and slowly dissipates) to the other side, mimicking what you see on your TV.
The haptic feedback of the DualSense is a true game-changer, literally.
The analog triggers (R2 and L2) also have adaptive technology. This makes it so the resistance of the trigger increases the further you pull it back. In other words, it’s almost like you’re playing reverse tug-of-war with the trigger — like it’s fighting you. It’s unbelievably satisfying and completely immersive.
When you add all this up, you get a controller that is actually part of the game. It’s no longer just an input device but part of the game experience itself. This is something I simply can’t replicate with a PC, no matter how powerful it might be. It finally creates a value proposition for owning a PS5 outside of the main reason I bought it: to play the legendary PlayStation-exclusive games.
The PS5’s dominance now lies with game studios
The previously-mentioned Astro’s Playroom is a very cute (and very fun) little game. However, it’s essentially a glorified tech demo and not the kind of game that is going to make you cancel work to play it. It’s not the kind of game that makes you cry or fills you with such excitement that you can barely sleep.
Those kinds of games are on the way, though. I’m a huge Resident Evil fan and the latest main installment in that series — Resident Evil: Village — will land on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC in 2021. Being a horror/action game, there are so many possibilities for what the developers could do with the new PlayStation 5 DualSense controller. Just off the top of my head, I can imagine a swelling rumble as an enemy stalks you, growing and pulsing as they get closer. The raindrop effect could also be used in this game very effectively. Obviously, Resident Evil games involve lots of gunplay, so those adaptive triggers will be very powerful for immersion. Can you imagine the terror you’d feel if you run out of ammo during a fight and the trigger in your hand locks up in response? It would be so thrilling.
Of course, that all happens only if developers make it happen. I’m sure that’s a lot of extra work for the devs, and it’s work that will only benefit a certain subset of players, i.e. those playing on a PS5.
If I were in Sony’s shoes, I would be throwing gobs of cash at publishers and independent developers to convince them to support the PlayStation 5 DualSense. There’s no doubt its first-party studios like Naughty Dog, Insomniac Games, and more will push the tech to its limits, but it also needs to convince the big third-party companies like EA, Capcom, Take-Two, Activision Blizzard, and beyond. Publishers might not see it as that important for their own bottom line, but Sony’s dominance in the console world depends on it having something that truly separates it from the pack.
Keep in mind that Nintendo tried to make HD Rumble a thing with the Nintendo Switch. While that was super cool in specific games (such as 1-2 Switch), it hasn’t been fully exploited by many publishers. Rumor has it that the team behind HD Rumble is the same team behind the DualSense’s haptics. Let’s hope Sony sees the true value of this new technology and doesn’t let it sit stagnant as Nintendo did.
PlayStation 5 DualSense controller could turn me into a console gamer
I know this might sound weird, but the PlayStation 5 is my first-ever console that wasn’t made by Nintendo. That’s right, I’ve made it through all of video game history with only Nintendo consoles until last week. Honestly, I haven’t missed much. Nearly every game I’ve wanted to play is either available on PC or whichever Nintendo console is modern at the moment. I’ve just passed over the PlayStation exclusives or waited until they received a port. It hasn’t been a big deal.
The PlayStation 5 DualSense controller, though, has the potential to change everything. Now, when a game comes to PC, people playing that same game on a PS5 could have a more immersive and wholly more effective experience than PC gamers or even Xbox Series X and Series S gamers.
To put it in an analogy, the DualSense controller is now the IMAX theater of the gaming world. Sure, you could go see the latest Marvel movie in a regular old theater where it will look and sound fine. Or, you could pay a little more and see it on an enormous screen with a sound system that will blow out your eardrums.
Eventually — or at least hopefully — Sony won’t have an exclusive on those ultra-realistic haptics and adaptive triggers. Just like with normal rumble effects, the perk will make its way to other consoles and PCs alike. Until then, though, why would I buy Resident Evil: Village on Steam when I can buy it for PS5 and have the controller somehow scare the crap out of me? Why would I want to fire an arrow from my bow in Horizon Forbidden West without a controller that mimics the resistance of the bow’s pullback?
The bottom line here is that graphics and speed are just frills. Experiences are what make gaming the multi-billion dollar industry that it is, and the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller enhances my gameplay experience more than what even my PC can offer. That’s something I didn’t expect to say when I unboxed the PS5, and it’s changing my whole outlook.