Ever since Sony first announced its PS5 DualSense controller, the company has highlighted the peripheral’s subtle haptic feedback. Until we get a DualSense in our hands, it’ll be hard to gauge how the DualSense feels different than a DualShock 4, but thanks to a new commercial, we have a better idea of how sensitive the new controller might be. From locking buttons when guns jam to mimicking the feel of different surface materials, it sounds like the DualSense can do a whole lot more than just vibrate.
A PlayStation Blog post goes into more detail about how the DualSense will function a variety of PS5 games. Mary Yee, vice president of global marketing at Sony Interactive Entertainment, gathered a variety of developer perspectives on the DualSense, each one of whom lent a different perspective on how the PS5 controller would enhance their upcoming games.
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Perhaps the most striking example of what the DualSense can do came from Dinga Bakaba, the director of the dual-protagonist shooter Deathloop. (The game was originally going to be a PS5 launch title, but has since been delayed.)
“Deathloop being a first-person shooter, we do a lot of things to make weapons feel differently from one another,” he said. “One I like is blocking the triggers when your weapon jams, to give to the player an immediate feedback even before the animation plays out, which prompts the player in a physical way that they have to unjam their gun.”
Bakaba provides a concrete example of what the DualSense can do that previous PlayStation controllers couldn’t. No amount of vibration could physically stop a player from pressing a button, but the DualSense will be able to match what’s happening onscreen to what a player feels in his or her hands. Whether this feels immersive or obnoxious will largely depend on the player — and it will be interesting to see whether players can disable this functionality.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has similar features, according to Marcus Smith, the game’s creative director:
“The Enforcer is a dual-barreled shotgun type weapon. As you pull the trigger, you’ll fire from one barrel, and you can feel resistance around halfway down the trigger,” he explained. “Need a bigger blast? Pull the trigger through that resistance point and you’ll fire both barrels at the same time.”
Another potentially impressive application of the DualSense comes from Nicolas Doucet, the studio director at Japan Studio, where Astro’s Playroom is in development.
“We use haptic feedback throughout the entire game,” he said. “The most striking are the surfaces because players will notice within the first few seconds. Astro’s steps can be felt running on plastic, metal, sand, and even splashing in water.”
While surface-specific vibrations are not a new idea, a fundamentally different feel for walking and running in different environments isn’t something we’ve seen before.
The DualSense's advanced haptics can even alert you to which direction enemies are coming from in Spider-Man: Miles Morales, according to creative director Brian Horton.
Some of the commentaries were on the vague side, though. Mathijs de Jonge, game director on Horizon Forbidden West, simply said that the DualSense will make “weapons feel even more unique and satisfying to use.” Likewise, Keith Lee, the CEO of Godfall developer Counterplay Games, mentioned only that the DualSense can help him “FEEL which weapon I’m holding in my hands without looking at any UI.”
The DualSense seems like it will be hard to gauge until we get one to test for ourselves, but PS5 developers seem to think it offers some opportunities that the DS4 did not. The controller will launch alongside the PS5 itself, whenever that may be.