The peripheral was revealed in a post on the PlayStation Blog by Hideaki Nishino, Senior Vice President, Platform Planning & Management. Nishino detailed several of the DualSense’s alterations over the DualShock 4. Some of these are iterative, while others are completely new features.
Perhaps the most transformative new addition comes in the form of the in-built microphone array, which will lend itself towards easier voice chat amongst friends and teammates. Of course, with this comes increased privacy concerns akin to those associated with services like Alexa, Siri, and the Google assistant. That said, it will open up the console to communication without the need for a headset. Whether this results in a friendlier, more communicative online gaming culture remains to be seen, but we all know how online lobbies go when microphones are involved…
Aesthetically, the controller features a black and white two-tone design, though it is unconfirmed if other combinations will be available. The new ergonomics also factor into the look of the controller, with Nishino stating that “DualSense has been tested by a wide range of gamers with a variety of hand sizes, in order for us to achieve the comfort level we wanted”.
Sony seems committed to ‘overlooked senses’ with the PS5 rather than simply on the graphical aspect. In the console itself, that manifests as advanced 3D audio with the ‘Tempest Engine’, but the controller looks to enhance the tactile experience of games. The new adaptive triggers will simulate the tension of actions, such as pressing on the accelerator or drawing a bow.
The DualSense moniker is already indicative of this improved sensory feature set over the legacy DualShock design, though many of the original elements will naturally be kept and expanded upon. Nishino acknowledges that the DualShock 4 already “garnered a lot of positive feedback from gamers and developers”, but they “decided to keep much of what gamers love about DualShock 4 intact”. Haptic feedback is one such retained feature, and expands on this idea of touch enhancements with an upgraded, more granular approach to player-feedback over more traditional motor setups used for vibration.
The D-pad seems to be remaining largely the same, though the sticks are getting a slightly different texturing, so hopefully this will fix issues with the coating wearing away. The tactile focus of the design returns in one more aspect - the touchpad is retained and reintegrated to more seamlessly blend with the controller's design, including having the light bar wrap around it.
Ah yes, the lightbar. It’s a controversial part of the DualShock 4, and has led to what many see as lackluster battery life. As a result, it is far more understated on the DualSense, with it wrapping around the touchpad on the face of the controller. This could give some insight into a future PlayStation VR revision, in which the headset could use ‘inside-out’ tracking with cameras on the headset itself. This would be similar to the method of the Oculus Rift S, and would also ensure that the new lightbar could still be tracked adequately. Nevertheless, according to Nishino, the lightbar was only one part of the “thoughtful consideration into ways to maintain a strong battery life for DualSense’s rechargeable battery, and to lessen the weight of the controller as much as possible as new features were added”.
Finally, the share button has been renamed and repurposed to ‘create’ button, with more details on what this will mean in terms of functionality coming ‘closer to launch’.
This reveal continues to show that Sony is following in the footsteps of their PlayStation 4 reveal, choosing to show the controller to accompany the PS5 before the console itself, albeit at a significantly slower pace. By this point in 2013, we had not only seen the DualShock 4 controller, but several pieces of software set to release on the then-upcoming console.
Perhaps this balance of new and old features will be enough to keep gamers on board, so long as the design does not stray too far from what they already know.
Featured image credit: @Wario64 & @VG247 (Twitter)