The first time I picked up the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller, I thought: it’s like a little living thing in my hands. I was playing Astro’s Playroom, a free PS5 game designed to highlight the new controller’s features. But, I also wondered: How many other PS5 games are going to take advantage of its wild, subtle features?
Gaming hardware that reaches out and surprises is pretty rare. Usually, it’s Nintendo’s domain: the detaching, docking, transforming Switch, or the Wii’s free-wheeling controllers. The Oculus Quest and PlayStation VR are pretty astonishing. Add to that list the PlayStation 5’s magical new version of its controller, now called DualSense instead of the older DualShock designation.
The PlayStation 5 is a graphically overloaded console with lots of potential, but its standout feature is clearly the upgraded DualSense. Launching Astro’s Playroom, the game preinstalled on the PS5, you get a showcase of what it can do. Its triggers stop and start to make it seem like you’re gripping ledges or pulling back bowstrings. Walking across ice, the controller tinkles and taps just perfectly to make it seem like I can feel the crunchy surface. The DualSense’s vibrational haptics really do create moments where I can almost touch the game.
The PlayStation 5 should get its own updated VR headset in the next couple of years. But in the meantime, the DualSense offers a little promise of what Sony’s immersive gaming steps could head to next.