The PlayStation controller is iconic. It was the first controller that had force feedback built-in, and dual analog sticks, and became a worldwide icon. I remember buying my first DualShock controller as a kid. It was a green one too. The controller improved with the PS2 by adding pressure-sensitive buttons, but overall still being the same thing. The DualShock 3 was the most controversial originally being a SixAxis controller with no force feedback due to the lawsuit that Sony was in over their force feedback tech. The DualShock 3 did eventually come out, but the SixAxis motion was a gimmick and was never utilized outside of the first two years of the system’s life. It also had triggers that weren’t well done and the analog stick rubber degraded over time. It just wasn’t a fantastic controller. On the other hand, the DualShock 4 wasn’t the greatest either. The forced light bar needed to communicate with the PlayStation camera that no one had drained the battery and the added touchpad didn’t really add to any one experience just like the SixAxis didn’t. It had improved rear triggers and analog sticks, but that was about it.
Here we are the scrapped DualShock name. I have to salute that name and it will be missed. We are now in the DualSense era. This controller is probably the first ever to be truly as innovative as the built-in analog sticks and force feedback from the DualShock 1. The haptic triggers literally change how a game plays and feels. These aren’t gimmicks. There is a resistive force on the triggers in the game. You can hold down a trigger partially and it will stick with a motor. Pull down harder to actually shoot a gun or arrow. You can feel the swings of an axe in God of War: Ragnarok. The triggers can even vibrate a bit and feel suddenly loose or tight like in The Last of Us Part 1. It changes the way I shoot in games. Spider-Man Remastered lets you feel the webs that you shoot with physical force.
This is the best part of the entire controller and I miss it in every game that doesn’t have it. The rest of the controls are just slightly tweaked with a better hand feel of the grips and the top light bar was finally removed. However, there are still lights around the touchpad which is fine. The controller just looks so good now too. The change to a pure white launch color was strange, but also brave. The texture of the controller is improved as well. It doesn’t feel as slippery and the plastic doesn’t feel as cheap as the DualShock 3 (I’m sorry, but that controller was my least favorite from Sony). The D-Pad also feels better this time around and less mushy. I also love how the controller is now USB-C and we can finally get away from the micro connector. You still have Bluetooth availability and it seems to be more compatible with devices than what the DualShock 4 could do. I do like the actual PlayStation logo as the home button now, and the controller retains the speaker and mic features. There is also a mic mute button right on the controller which is a great feature.
Overall, the DualSense controller is the first controller revolution since the Wii remote and the original DualShock before that. The haptic triggers literally change the way you play and feel the game. There are so many things you can do with this type of resistive technology and many first-party games are coming out swinging already. The battery life is improved over the DualShock 4, the ergonomics have been tweaked just enough, and finally, get USB-C! I’m not sure how Sony can improve from here.