The new PS5 controller has been revealed. Formally known as the DualSense, it’ll launch with Sony’s PS5 in late 2020.
First revealed earlier this year, the DualSense is a break in tradition for Sony, dropping the old DualShock name while sporting a futuristic two-tone design and curved shape. As with the PS5 itself, its design has proven striking but divisive.
As its name suggests, it seems that the chief aim of the DualSense is going to be to further immerse players in games by engaging their senses using next-gen features like haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.
As the release of the console and its controller draws closer, we’re starting to hear more from developers of PS5 games who have been utilising the DualSense’s capabilities in their games, giving us a better idea of what we can expect when we finally get our hands on it for ourselves.
Although we’re still waiting for a few more details on the DualSense to be confirmed—cost and battery life among them—we’re finding out more about the PS5 controller with increasing regularity. To help keep you afloat of the latest, we’ve gathered everything we know about the PS5’s DualSense controller below.
Cut to the chase
- What is the DualSense? Sony’s next-generation PlayStation 5 controller
- When is it available? Holiday 2020 (to coincide with the release of the PS5)
- How much will it cost? TBC
PS5 controller release date
Sony finally revealed the DualSense Controller to the world in a PlayStation Blog post on April 7, 2020 – giving us our first glimpse of the next-gen gamepad.
The Sony PS5 controller will release alongside the PlayStation 5 during the “Holiday” 2020 period – so sometime between October and December.
We’re expecting that the DualSense PS5 controller, like the DualShock 4 before it, will work not only on the PlayStation 5 but also with PC.
PS5 controller price: not confirmed, but this is our prediction
A price for the DualSense PS5 controller has not been confirmed yet, but with the PS4 controller retailing for around £40/$50/AUD$80, we expect the DualSense to be just a bit more expensive – we’d predict around £60/$70/AUD$120.
This is pure speculation at this point, based solely on the confirmed features and Sony’s previous price strategy for controllers. Certainly, we’re already seeing evidence that the games of the next generation may be slightly more expensive and industry analysts are expecting this to be the same for the console so it’s not unreasonable to expect a price hike for its controller too. It’s likely Sony will confirm the PS5 controller price in the coming months ahead of launch.
PS5 controller features: haptic feedback, Create button and audio jack
The formal reveal of the DualSense confirmed what we’ve heard about the PS5 controller features for a while, namely that haptic feedback will replace the DualShock 4’s rumble technology.
While the rumble technology seen in the PS4 controller vibrates intensely during particular in-game events, it wasn’t particularly fine-tuned to the player’s experience. Haptic feedback simulates touch, meaning the controller will output vibrations or movements to replicate a real-life touch experience. This aims to improve the controller’s feedback and therefore player’s immersion with Sony saying it “adds a variety of powerful sensations you’ll feel when you play, such as the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud.”
The PS5 controller will also feature adaptive triggers which Sony says have “been incorporated into the trigger buttons (L2/R2)”. These adaptive triggers will allow developers to program the resistance of the triggers to simulate actions more accurately, “so you can truly feel the tension of your actions, like when drawing a bow to shoot an arrow.”
There’s no Share button on the DualSense controller, but there is a Create Button, and it’ll perform the same function and more. “We’re once again pioneering new ways for players to create epic gameplay content to share with the world, or just to enjoy for themselves,” is how Sony describes it. Expect more on this as we get closer to launch.
The PS5 will still feature an audio jack, too, so you can plug in your own headphones and headsets. This was tweeted in response to a user question by PlayStation project manager Toshimasa Aoki (their account isn’t verified, though, it’s worth noting):
Still have an audio jack so you can plug in your own headsets like DS4April 8, 2020
“3D audio and the haptic feedback support of the controller are also things that, when you try them, you will be surprised at how big a change they are. Even just playing the racing game Gran Turismo Sport with a PlayStation 5 controller is a completely different experience. While it runs well with the previous controller, there is no going back after you experience the detailed road surface via haptic control and play using the adaptive triggers.”
It will also include a built-in microphone, and Sony says you’ll be able to use this to talk with your friends online without the use of a gamepad. Of course, for folks who still want one, Sony says it will still support them.
When Wired chatted to Mark Cerny and Toshi Aoki about the PS5 and its controller it was confirmed that the DualSense will feature some other improvements on the DualShock 4, mentioning a USB Type-C connector for charging and a “larger-capacity battery” which will make it heavier than the DualShock 4, though still “a bit lighter than the current Xbox controller” with batteries in it.
We’re still awaiting more information on the PS5 controller’s specs and features and we’ll update this section when we know the full list.
How developers are using DualSense features
We’re now starting to hear from developers who are using the DualSense in the creation of their games. It’s hard to tell how the controller will work and feel without holding it for ourselves but these developer insights at least give us a better idea of what innovations we can expect and how they might draw us more into our games.
Philip Tibitowski of Bugsnax developer, Young Horses, has said that the controller will make a “big difference” to players.
“Running around in the environment and feeling the different types of terrain under your feet while sprinting is really cool and weird,” Tibitoski said. “Past vibration in games has felt good, it’s a nice addition, but it’s never been essential, I guess. Now, it feels like it makes a big difference in the game, whether it’s running through a stream of water or, when trying to catch a Bugsnak, it being in your trap and finding ‘oh, is it trying to escape?’ You can feel how intense it is and how close it is to escaping.”
Speaking with Official PlayStation Magazine, Quantum Error’s Micah Jones has said (via PSU) that with the PS5 controller “we are going to make every gunshot vibrate the side of the hand that would be holding the handle of the gun, vibrate the controller dynamically according to where the enemy hits you. We are going to have the player go to doors that have the possibility of backdraught explosions and the character will place his left hand on the door and if it’s hot the controller will vibrate on the left side of the controller to warn the player of an explosion if that door is opened.”
Dirt 5’s Rob Karp, meanwhile, has told the magazine (via PSU) “The DualSense is great. When we got the tech demo up and running the whole studio came around and everyone wanted a go. It offers something new and unique and we felt it fits really well for racing, especially for a game with such diversity of content and cars.”
PS5 controller colors: the DualSense is white-and-black, but expect other colors in the future
The DualSense controller is a two-tone affair, as you’ve seen in the images above. It’s primarily white, with black elements, like the shoulder buttons and analog sticks. But expect Sony to produce all kinds of colors in the years after release, as we’ve seen with every PlayStation controller going back to the PSone.
Including limited edition controllers, there are more than 30 different PS4 controller colors. There’s no reason to expect anything different with the PS5 controller color options after launch.
PS5 controller rumors: what else has been reported about the DualSense?
Now that the PS5 controller has been revealed, we’ve updated our list of rumors below to strip out those that are no longer relevant. Given that we don’t know the exact specs of the DualSense, though, or its full range of functionality, we’ve kept some of the related stories we’ve heard about the last few months. If they turn out to be true, or not, we’ll adjust this section accordingly.
A patent suggests that wireless charging could be in the works for the DualSense, although no such thing was mentioned during the announcement.
Found by Saqib Mansoor of SegmentNext, the patent shows a “Wireless charging adapter with game control keys for computer game controller,” and seems to show a “wireless charging adapter that can snap onto a computer game controller and can be inductively coupled to a charging base to wirelessly recharge a battery in the controller.”
The images that appear alongside the patent show what appears to be a DualShock controller with an attachment on its back that keeps the controller charged along with a charging mat, no annoying cables involved.
Patents, however, as we all know, are no guarantee. Just because a patent has been published doesn’t mean that Sony has any intention of pursuing the technology so this should be taken with a pinch of salt.
It is interesting, however, that this technology appears to be an optional extra rather than included as standard—it suggests that if Sony did opt for wireless charging capabilities it could make them available separately and maybe even later than the console’s launch. Keeping this capability separate would also likely keep the price of the base controller lower for those not all that interested in wireless charging. There’s precedent for controller accessories, too, given the DualShock 4’s recent back button attachment.
Heart rate and sweat sensors
The PS5 controller could also tailor your gameplay based on your vital signs (again, though, nothing was mentioned about this in the official DualSense reveal). That’s according to a Sony patent (via Respawn First) which outlines a gamepad able to use biometric feedback to monitor players’ heart rate and sweat levels, and then adjust gameplay based on its findings.
The patent’s abstract describes a “biofeedback sensor attachment for a controller”, that is made up of “one or more sensors” which gather types of biofeedback from players, such as heart rate and sweat secretion levels, with certain measurements potentially indicative of a player’s emotional state.
The information gathered would then aim to feedback the player’s likely emotional state to the controller, and influence gameplay accordingly – although exactly how this would work hasn’t been detailed. In the coming months, we should find out if this is true or not.
An unearthed Sony patent (published by WIPO and spotted by SegmentNext) describes “a controller device that is held by a user’s hand, including a microphone, a tactile presentation device that presents a tactile sense to the user’s hand, and a speaker.
“While the user is inputting voice from the microphone, the sound of the speaker is suppressed, and tactile presentation control by the tactile presentation device is performed.”
The DualSense has a built-in microphone, Sony confirmed at announcement, but voice control wasn’t touched on specifically.