When Sony announced the PS5 DualSense controller, I thought it was a pretty ugly contraption. I polled my coworkers to see if I was alone, but about half of them agreed with me. Something about the two-toned color scheme, the redesigned grips and the stark black PlayStation button just felt a little unfriendly — futuristic, sure, but more like Neuromancer than Star Trek.
Now that I’ve had a few days to get used to the controller, my views on it have softened a bit, particularly since I think the vertical grips will ultimately make the device more comfortable. But not every fan was as content to leave things be. Some digital artists put their own unique spins on the DualSense, then shared their creations with the online community.
While none of these DualSense concepts is all that likely to make it to a shelf anytime soon, it is fun to think about what might have been — and what variations Sony might produce later on down the line.
Illuminated face buttons
One of the prettiest renders comes from Nikolay Mochkin, who goes by “Ellejart” on Instagram. Mochkin produced a short video of a DualSense with illuminated buttons. Unlike Sony’s controller, Mochkin’s is gray-and-black rather than white-and-black. But the bigger difference is that Mochkin’s buttons light up. The D-pad buttons all have subtle blue underlighting, as does the touchpad and the PlayStation button. The triangle, square, circle and X buttons light up green, pink, red and blue, respectively, just as they’re color-coded on older PlayStation controllers. While it’s attractive, though, a setup like this would drain a lot of power in practice.
As good as gold
One of the most popular DualSense fan designs (at least according to Reddit) is the “golden DualSense” from an artist named Iésu, who goes by “itsalastor” on Twitter. This relatively simple redesign gives the buttons and touchpad border golden highlights, and adds a golden cross-hatch pattern to the grips. If I had to guess, I would say this model resonates with people because it’s elegant, but not as harsh as the default design. Gold and black go together much more easily than white and black.
A user called “dormstreams” came up with a novel DualSense design on Reddit, where he made four different DualSense mockups using Sony-specific series. A God of War design has a red “Ω” symbol against a white background. A Spider-Man design has red webbing and a white logo in the middle. A Last of Us design is dark green with a black Firefly symbol in the center. A Horizon Zero Dawn design is blue and gray, with faint outlines of robotic beasts on the grips. I imagine that Sony will probably release controllers like this eventually, so we can only hope the real things look as good.
When seeking inspiration, sometimes you’ve got to go back to the classics. That’s what Reddit user “asgardian_mike” did with his concept art of a PS1-style DualSense controller. This model is black in the center, with PS1-colored gray grips, a multicolored PlayStation logo button and face buttons with colored symbols. There’s a subtle blue light around the touchpad, but otherwise, it’s about as close as you can get to an old-school DualShock without changing the DualSense’s physical design.
The most ambitious DualSense fan concept is also, for better or worse, the least realistic. Reddit user “SYROBONKERS” posted a short video with a black-and-white DualSense. Like other fan concepts, this one had light-up buttons; unlike other fan concepts, this one also had an interactive touchpad with an LED display screen. In this fanciful rendering, the DualSense could display notifications, battery levels and even present users with a tiny keyboard to type out messages. Commenters were quick to point out that such a contraption would be prohibitively expensive and probably wouldn’t add much to the experience — but what are fan renders for, if not to dream?