The Xbox controller long ago became the de facto standard for playing PC games with a pad, but Sony’s DualShock 4 also got PC support a long time ago via Steam or a piece of software called DS4Windows. The DS4 a fine controller and I’ve used it every so often on PC, particularly when dabbling with PlayStation Now, Sony’s remote play service on PC.
Sony have today released the first images and information about the “DualSense”, the new controller that will ship with the PlayStation 5. There’s no confirmation yet but the assumption is that it will follow its predecessor by working on PC as well. So: would you give up your Xbox controller for Sony’s latest?
In a post on the PlayStation blog, Sony’s Hideaki Nishino explains the controller’s new features. It has haptic feedback, which is like a fancier version of the rumbling controllers started doing in the ’90s and which has been increasingly popular with various virtual reality wands. It’s got “adaptive triggers”, which means the L2 and R2 buttons can now offer different levels of tension depending on whether you’re squeezing them to accelerate a car or to pull back the string on a bow. There’s also a “built-in microphone array”, so you can chat with friends without requring a headset – though a headset will still be an option.
There’s no word at all on the most important part of its design: whether or not you can place the controller down on a couch without the weight depressing one of the triggers and causing BBC iPlayer to start rewinding. Hopefully the change of angle on those triggers – the whole design is a bit more round now – stops that, because my kid is constantly yelling at me for rewinding Bing.
Sony are pitching this as a “radical departure from [their] previous controller offerings”, because of course they are, but it looks to me more like a common sense upgrade. Haptics are nice, but it’s not something which drastically alters what developers can create. That’s fine – I like the controllers we already have, and I don’t need them to change radically. This also means I don’t imagine I’m going to give up my current controllers anytime soon, though.
I’m curious if you feel different, or if you have grander visions for what a new generation of controllers would look like. Or you can just tell me about how you play racing games, beat ’em ups and action platformers with a mouse and keyboard and it’s absolutely fine, actually.