Everything you need to know about the PS5 DualSense controller

8 Apr 2020

The new DualSense PS5 controller. Image: Sony

The new DualSense controller is a departure from previous PlayStation models, with new features such as built-in microphones and a USB-C port.

On Tuesday (7 April), Sony introduced the new wireless game controller for the upcoming PlayStation 5 console (PS5).

The DualSense device is the first piece of PS5 hardware that the company has revealed, after sharing an in-depth look at some of the technology inside the console last month.

In a blogpost on the PlayStation website, senior vice-president of platform planning and management, Hideaki Nishino, shared the company’s vision for the new controller.

Nishino said the company has begun to ship the controller in its final design to developers who are implementing its new features into their games.

President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment Jim Ryan added that the new controller marks “a radical departure from our previous controller offerings”.

“The new controller, along with the many innovative features in PS4, will be transformative for games – continuing our mission at PlayStation to push the boundaries of play, now and in the future,” he said.

DualSense features

Nishino said that the new device maintains “much of what gamers love about DualShock 4”, the controller released with PlayStation 4. The company also wanted to add new functionality and put a focus on the sense of touch and audio, which Nishino admitted “hasn’t been a big focus for many games”.

“We had a great opportunity with PS5 to innovate by offering game creators the ability to explore how they can heighten that feeling of immersion through our new controller,” he said.  “This is why we adopted haptic feedback, which adds a variety of powerful sensations you’ll feel when you play, such as the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud.”

The company said it has also incorporated adaptive triggers into the L2 and R2 buttons to add the feeling of tension to actions, such as drawing a bow to shoot an arrow.

The back of the white DualSense controller, which has black trigger buttons.

Image: Sony

Nishino added: “With adaptive triggers, we had to consider how the components would fit into the hardware, without giving it a bulky feeling. Our design team worked closely with our hardware engineers to place the triggers and actuators.

“The designers were then able to draw the lines of how the exterior of the controller would look and feel, with a challenge of making the controller feel smaller than it really looks.”

Battery, microphone and more

PlayStation has also made efforts to maintain a strong battery life for the controller’s rechargeable battery, and to lessen the weight of the controller even as new features were added. From photographs released by Sony, a USB-C charging port is also visible on the device.

The company revealed that it is adding a built-in microphone array, which will enable users to chat during online games without a headset. The console will still be compatible with traditional headsets for gamers who prefer to chat that way.

The PlayStation 5 controller will have no ‘share’ button, but the company plans to replace it with a new ‘create’ button, which will enable users to create “gameplay content to share with the world, or just to enjoy for themselves”. The company plans to release more information on this closer to the release date, which is set for later this year.

New design

The DualSense strays from Sony’s tradition of having a solid colour on its PlayStation controllers.

“We went a different direction this time around, and decided on a two-toned design. Additionally, we changed the position of the light bar that will give it an extra pop,” Nishino said.

“We went through several concepts and hundreds of mock-ups over the last few years before we settled on this final design. 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, with great ergonomics.”

Ryan concluded by adding: “To the PlayStation community, I truly want to thank you for sharing this exciting journey with us as we head toward PS5’s launch in holiday 2020. We look forward to sharing more information about the PS5, including the console design, in the coming months.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic