PlayStation 5 controller unveiled, boasts ‘strong battery life’ (and more)

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This morning, Sony gave the world a first look at the new controller for upcoming PlayStation 5 console. Called “DualSense”, the pad aims to “bring the sense of touch to PS5 gameplay.”

Perhaps the most crucial detail, even if Sony completely buried the led in its announcement, is that the engineers ” took thoughtful consideration into ways to maintain a strong battery life for DualSense’s rechargeable battery”. The DualShock 4’s short battery life is a real nuisance in an otherwise great controller, so it’s good to hear that that’s something Sony will be addressing with the DualSense.

In terms of visual design, this is probably the biggest change in the basic form factor of a PlayStation controller since the original DualShock first launched. Button placement is similar to the PS4’s DualShock 4, but the controller sports more of a rounded look this time around. Instead of the traditional single colour, the DualSense features a two-tone design, with a white body and black accents throughout. It also drops the iconic coloured face button markings in lieu of a monotone grey-on-white design.

As previously revealed, the DualSense offers haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, in order to “heighten that feeling of immersion”. In the frequently-cited example, drawing a bow to shoot an arrow could see the trigger’s resistance increase the further you draw.

The controller retains the touchpad and Options button seen on the PlayStation 4 pad, while the Share button has been replaced by a “Create” button. There’s no detail yet on exactly how this will work—that’ll come later—but presumably, it’ll be similar to the PS4’s Share function, but with more options to edit stuff on the fly before posting.

The DualSense includes a built-in microphone array, allowing players to easily use chat functions without a headset. That said, Sony still recommends having a headset handy for longer conversations. It’s unclear if the DualSense will support a wired headset, like the DualShock 4 does, or if it’ll be bluetooth only; there’s something that looks like a 3.5mm jack on the front of the controller, but I’ve seen suggestions that this is for the mic array.

This sort of redesign is always going to be a slightly risky move, but reactions I’ve seen so far seem mostly positive. I’m personally not that into the two-tone design and monochrome buttons—give me an all-black variant with classic PlayStation face buttons, and we’re talking—but the new features sound very nice indeed. (Also, I’ve warmed to the design a lot since seeing IGN’s Lucy O’Brien describe it as looking “like it was ever-so-slightly designed by Homer Simpson.“)

The PlayStation 5 is planned for release in the 2020 holiday season, though a specific release date hasn’t been announced as yet. We haven’t yet seen what the console itself will look like, but I imagine that won’t be too far away—especially now that we know what the controller looks like.

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Matthew is a writer based in Wellington. He loves all things pop culture, and is fascinated by its place in history and the wider social context.