The best thing about new console launches is that we get new controllers to play around with on the PC. I’ve been waiting months for the new PlayStation 5 Dualsense controller to drop through my letterbox, and now I can be sure it’ll work before it's plugged in thanks to Valve's recent announcement that they've already added support for Sony’s new pad on Steam.
According to Valve, the latest Steam client update "added initial input support for the PS5 DualSense controller", as well as support for the new Xbox Series X controller, correcting an issue that had it showing up as two separate devices. There's still a way to go, however, as the PS5 controller's more advanced features such as rumble, trackpad, and gyro "are not yet supported", according to Valve.
It's a good start for now, although I hope that "not yet" means they’ll be adding in these features shortly. To be fair, Steam already has support for the PS4's Dualshock 4 touchpad and gyro controls, so I’m not too concerned about those.
Instead, it's the new haptic feedback tech in the PS5's controller that interests me most. The controller enables haptic feedback through the triggers, you see, so you can feel the tension on a bowstring when you pull it, for example, or they can lock up when a weapon jams. It's set to introduce a whole new level of physical effects on PS5, and it's the thing I want most to make its way to PC.
Still, even if we do end up missing out on the Dualsense's fancy haptics, I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with it with Steam Input’s customisation options. These are already so detailed that they can arguably make any game pad work better on PC than on their native console. By taking advantage of Steam’s software tricks to adjust almost every input imaginable, I've been able to create several Swiss Army-style control sets that can recognise trigger pulls and joystick angles to a far sharper degree than on their native platforms. You can completely redefine what each button does, and create multiple controls sets that you can swap on the fly in-game.
Valve's example is simple, but illustrative: "Activators let you define simple macros like, 'If I hold DOWN for 1 second, repeat DOWN every 0.1 seconds thereafter until release.' Ta-da! Now you can scroll through that list in a jiffy just by holding down the button, even though the developers never implemented it!"
Ta-da, indeed. It's like the software equivalent of those ridiculous macro joypads that you always gave to your little sibling. Before this level of customisation came around, I could barely tolerate pads on PC. Now I own multiple official pads, and I keep a small stock of my dear Steam Controller to hand, too.
The PlayStation 5 has already launched in several countries worldwide, including the US, Canada and Japan, but us folk in the UK have to wait until Thursday November 19th before we can get our mitts on it. Either way, I'm looking forward to adding a whole new generation of pads to my pile.