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The PS5 Controller: Making Sense of the DualSense

on Sep 7, 2020
The PS5 Controller: Making Sense of the DualSense

Sony definitely took their sweet time unveiling the PlayStation 5, but once they did, there was no stopping it. We take a look at the most important part of the console; the ps5 controller.

Following their huge showcase back in June, the hype train for Sony’s next-generation console has gone on full speed. Not only do we now know about what the PlayStation 5 will look like, as well as the kind of games that we can and should expect from the next-generation console, we were also treated to quite the surprise.

The surprise we’re talking about is Sony dropping the DualShock name entirely. Instead, they’ve chosen to replace it with a new name, DualSense.

Since its inception, the controllers for each PlayStation console had gone by the name DualShock. However, starting with the PlayStation 5, the controller will under the DualSense name.

With that said, the name alone isn’t the only thing that’s different, because the design is too as well.

Read on more below to find out the different aspects and features of the all-new DualSense, based on currently available information.

DualShock 4 vs DualSense – What’s Changed? What’s the Difference?

The PlayStation 5’s design might look different from the PlayStation 4, but the difference is not as big as from what we’ve seen between the DualShock 4 and the all-new DualSense.

For starters, the said controller follows a two-toned colour scheme and even switched up the buttons.

In contrast, the DualShock 4 comes in Jet Black as a default, with multiple color options later being made available by Sony.

Whether or not this design choice will pan out is something that we’ll find out soon enough.

What Will the PS5 Controller Look Like?

This is the department where the biggest difference between the DualShock 4 and DualSense can be noticed.

ps5 controller

With the PlayStation 5’s newest controller, it’s clear that Sony wanted to try something different. It’s painfully made obvious when you consider that a slight tweak in design and colour scheme could have resulted in a DualShock 5 that fit with the overall aesthetics of the PlayStation 5. But, apparently, that just wasn’t enough for Sony.

To say that the DualSense makes an impression is only fitting, and while the original colourway might not be your type, it’s not exactly a huge problem when you consider that Sony’s expected to make it available in other colors anyway.

Not to mention, if Sony doesn’t end up doing that, you can always rely on third-party manufacturers, such as us ourselves, to deliver. Here is a few examples of what a custom ps5 controller can look like with a design upgrade:
Custom ps5 controllersPicture by H4WKING on Redit

But while the colour is something that can be changed, the design definitely is staying.

The DualSense looks like what would happen if the DualShock 4 and the Xbox One controller had a baby. Instead of the more curved design of its predecessors, especially that of the DualShock 4, the DualSense features more corners and is more angular.

Perhaps this is Sony’s way of admitting that the Xbox controller’s design is superior to theirs.

Two other noticeable changes are the removal of coloured face buttons and moving the lighting to just below the touch bar for a less pronounced and more understated lighting effect.

Ultimately, the DualSense is a radically different controller from its DualShock predecessors.

Even though the DualShock and the DualSense share the same DNA and there are certain similarities, the DualSense feels a step towards the right direction and a necessary change, critics be damned.

Is the PS5 Controller Bigger than the PS4?

The PS5 controller may look a lot bigger than the DualShock, however, looking at the shape and overal button positioning, we doubt it will feel too different to hold.

ps4 vs ps5 controller comparisson

Thanks to a recent tweet by The Game Awards producer and creator, Geoff Keighley, we finally have a side-by-side comparison photo of the two controllers.

Unfortunately, Sony has yet to reveal the exact details of the dimensions of the DualSense.

From what we can speculate for now though, the DualSense should be heavier (as also confirmed by Keighley) with some added bulk to its size.


Whether this design change will affect performance positively or negatively is now the question.

What Kind of Features Will the PS5 Controller Have?

The new design isn’t just for show. It’s most likely where gamers will feel the biggest change between the DualShock 4 and DualSense.

Haptic Feedback

The triggers, in particular, are a new shape, and the DualSense will benefit from the haptic feedback technology. This new feature, according to Sony, “adds a variety of powerful sensations you’ll feel when you play”. In addition to this, Sony added adaptive triggers to the L2 and R2 buttons, which they claim will make you “feel the tension of your actions.”

This is one area where the DualSense truly shines, especially if a game makes full use of it.

While the DualShock 4 definitely tried to make the gaming experience more immersive, it lacked a certain something to push it over the top. Hopefully, that certain something is the haptic feedback technology that’s incorporated in the DualSense.

Create Button

Speaking of buttons, say goodbye to the “Share” button from your DualShock 4 and say hello to the new “Create” button.

Sony has yet to fully explain what this new button will allow players to do. However, they have suggested and dropped hints about this button being added to specifically address players who love to share their gaming content.

The Built-in microphone

Coming out of the left field is the new microphone feature of the DualSense.

Previously, with the DualShock 4, you’d need to have a microphone to talk to your friends. However, with the DualSense, you won’t need to do that anymore. Also, if you’re worried about your DualSense spying on you or catching something you don’t want others hearing, Sony did add a mute button on the controller itself.

It doesn’t take an expert to see Sony experimenting with something new and radical with the DualSense.

Sure, the DualShock 4 was not exactly a replica of the DualShock 3. The touchpad, in particular, was a nice touch. So was the lightbar. However, both changes were not huge game-changers. And while we can’t predict if the added functionality that comes with the DualSense will make a huge impact, you can, at the very least, appreciate Sony attempting to do just that.

How Long Will the PS5 Controller Battery Last?

Arguably the biggest issue with the DualShock 4 was its battery life.

Sure, everyone loves to meme about how it’s superior to the Xbox One controller because it doesn’t need an external battery pack. However, the reality is, the onboard battery comes with a couple of disadvantages. Namely, the lack of a replaceable battery solution.

Because of this, players are often forced to have an extra controller ready and fully-charged for long gaming sessions.

Unfortunately, Sony has yet to explain if this is something that they addressed with the DualSense.

If it’s any consolation though, they did take notice of this issue.

In fact, Sony went as far as to say that they took “thoughtful consideration into ways to maintain a strong battery life” for the rechargeable battery of the DualSense.

According to this Reddit post, it certainly seems like Sony has delivered.

The DualShock 4 has a maximum battery life of 8 hours per charge, but it’s more likely to last only 4 hours during intense gaming sessions. However, if the supposed leak is to be believed, the DualSense could have an 8-hour battery life with all of its features enabled, and could as long as 12 hours if you’re being conservative.

While this is still less than the battery life of the Xbox One controller and the Nintendo Switch Pro controller, it’s still a noticeable improvement.

Will The PS5 Controller Have Back Buttons and Paddles?

Unlike Microsoft, who has taken cues from third-party manufacturers and designed a controller aimed towards enthusiasts for the Xbox One known as the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, Sony stuck with something more vanilla with the DualSense.

Because of this, the PS5 controller doesn’t have back buttons nor paddles.

Worry not though, this likely isn’t final.

Let’s also not forget that there are third-party manufacturers who are willing to add such features to the PS5 controller for a fee. We will also develop our ClickStick mechanism to fit the DualSense.

There’s also the precedent of Sony adding certain features down the line as additional accessories. Take, for example, the DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment that Sony launched in early 2020.

Now, the question, whether Sony will launch paddles and back buttons as an attachment, or release a separate “Pro” model aimed towards hardcore and professional gamers altogether.

How Will The Changes Affect Gameplay?

Sony claims that gamers will feel the “slow grittiness of driving a car through the mud” with the DualSense thanks to the haptic feedback technology.

Now, you may ask, isn’t this the same as the vibration feedback on the DualShock 4?

Well, the answer to that question is, not exactly.

If we are to go by with the statements that Sony has released so far, the haptic feedback will have a more tangible effect on the gaming experience. It’s said to “add a variety of powerful sensations you’ll feel when you play”. Although we can’t say for sure what exactly this means, we can assume that the controller will react more to in-game effects.

The rumble functionality, as simple as it is, actually provided an immersive gaming experience, especially when utilized properly.

If the haptic feedback function can take the good out of the rumble functionality and make it better, while also doing away with the bad things, then the DualSense might just end up being a true game-changer.

Of course, the haptic feedback technology isn’t the only addition to the DualSense.As mentioned earlier, adaptive triggers were added to the L2 and R2 buttons. Meanwhile a microphone now comes built-in to the DualSense as a standard.

Both are minor changes at best, but they’re very welcome, to say the least.

The obvious benefit of having a microphone, for example, makes chatting with other players more convenient This is especially true for short gaming sessions. This also comes in handy in scenarios where voice audio quality isn’t as important.

A side benefit is that this opens up the possibility of compatibility with voice assistants.

Who knows? Sony might even have its own voice recognition system planned in the pipeline. After all, it’s not like they haven’t dabbled with it before.

Plus, speaking of potential, the combination of the adaptive triggers and the haptic feedback technology should make gaming a more immersive experience on the PlayStation 5. This is especially if gamers utilize both technologies properly, such as making it “harder” to push the L2 or R2 button when firing a gun on screen.

Can You Use a PS4 Controller on the PS5?

Good news, according to a recent blog post from Sony, the PlayStation 4 Controller will work on the PlayStation 5.

The only problem? It will only work on PlayStation 4 games.

To quote directly a part of the said post, Sony said that the “DualShock 4 wireless controller ahd PlayStation officially licensed third-party gamepad controllers will work with supported PS4 games”.

What this means is that, not only will the DualShock 4 work on the PS5 on supported PS4 games, but the same holds true for current-generation controllers from us here at TCP. However, be warned, Sony did go on to add in the same post that “not all PlayStation officially licensed or third-party peripherals/accessories may work on PS5”.

In the same post, Sony flat out confirmed that the DualShock 4 will not support PS5 games.

Sony claims that next-generation titles should “take advantage of the new capabilities and features” that will come with the PlayStation 5. This, of course, includes the new features that come with the all-new DualSense controller.

Will the PS5 Controller Work on the PS4? Will It Work on the PC?

Yes. It’s true. We do have confirmation that the PS4 controller will have limited support for the PlayStation 5. It’ll work, but not on PS5 games. However, we do not have any news about what will happen if it’s the other way around.

Sony has yet to release word if whether the PS5 controller will work on the PS4.

If, and ever, it does work, don’t expect. The PS5 controller will most likely have limited functionality on the PS4. This is because of the difference in design between both controllers. Case in point, the DualSense has adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. The DualShock 4 has neither.

The DualSense also has a built-in microphone. This is a feature that most PS4 games were not programmed to take into account.

Likewise, there’s limited information available surrounding using the PlayStation 5 controller on the PC.

Even now, nearly a decade since the PlayStation 4 launched, the wireless functionality of the DualShock 4 is still not natively supported on the three major operating systems used in desktops. Namely, these are Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Instead, gamers have had to resort to other means to use their DualShock 4 on the PC wirelessly. Some use either a third-party program to use the DualShock 4 on the PC. Meanwhile, others purchase a separate accessory from Sony known as the DualShock 4 Wireless Adaptor.

While it would be awesome for the DualSense to work seamlessly on the PC, there’s enough reasons to expect more of the same kind of support for the DualSense that Sony has given the DualShock 4 going forward.

How TCP Can Make the DualSense Better

The Controller People is dedicated to helping you modify your PS4 controller to suit your needs and preferences.

With the imminent release of the DualSense, we intend to offer the same kind of service as well.

The DualSense is severely lacking in what we believe are must-have features on a controller. This is especially true for hardcore gamers and professionals who need every bit of an advantage that they can take.As such, you can expect us to work around the clock to find ways to add the same features found on our modified and customized PS4 controllers on the DualSense. This includes, among many others, the Spring Stop Triggers, Interchangeable Analog System, Remappable ClickSticks, and the DexiDisk.

Final Thoughts

So far, Sony has treated the DualSense as something special and groundbreaking.

We’re not quite sold on the latter just yet.

What we can’t deny is that the DualSense is definitely something that we haven’t seen before.

Kudos to Sony for having slowly eased the DualSense into the lives of their fans. It’s not easy seeing something you grew up with go through a drastic change.

This slow transition has likely helps players adjust better to the new controller design of what will likely now become the go-to console for most gamers for the next decade.

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