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The PS5 DualSense gamepad doubles down on dream of next-gen immersion

Sony Interactive Entertainment has unveiled its next generation controller, and, at face value, is leaving many of the familiar features of past controllers behind including PlayStation’s long running DualShock branding.

Sony Interactive Entertainment has unveiled its next-generation controller, and, at face value, is leaving many of the familiar features of past controllers behind including PlayStation’s long running DualShock branding.

The new DualSense controller announced today is, at first glance, quite a jump from the controllers that typically accompany PlayStation consoles. The controller itself offers up a bulkier silhouette and contrasting colors, though SIE notes that the very shape of the DualSense aims to "making the controller feel smaller than it really looks."

While it might look closer to designs whipped up by a certain competing console-maker than past PlayStation creations, the minds behind the DualSense say it keeps much of the DualShock’s defining features below the surface while innovating to fit with SIE’s big PlayStation 5 push.

“DualSense marks a radical departure from our previous controller offerings and captures just how strongly we feel about making a generational leap with PS5,” says SIE president and CEO Jim Ryan. “The new controller, along with the many innovative features in PS5, will be transformative for games – continuing our mission at PlayStation to push the boundaries of play, now and in the future.”

One key feature in particular that was built around conversations with game developers is the DualSense’s focus on the sense of touch: the rumble of controllers’ past looks to be gone and replaced with a more varied range of haptic feedback “which adds a variety of powerful sensations you’ll feel when you play, such as the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud.” This focus extends to the controller’s L2 and R2 buttons that are now adaptive triggers that’ll register tension “like when drawing a bow to shoot an arrow.”

Both are examples of the more unique features baked into the DualSense, and some the team says in the full PlayStation Blog breakdown that they're eager to see game devs put to good use.

That and other new elements of the DualSense, from its built-in microphone array to vastly different look and shape, aim to play into the idea of a completely immersive experience like the one mentioned in system architect Mark Cerny’s PlayStation 5 deep dive last month. In that chat, Cerny pointed to new PS5 features like frictionless in-game loading and entire internal components dedicated to enabling near-personalized 3D audio as elements of next gen tech that aim to completely immerse players in game worlds.

Immersion looks to be the big theme for the PlayStation 5 as well as its controller this time around. “Our goal with DualSense is to give gamers the feeling of being transported into the game world as soon as they open the box,” writes platform planning and management SVP Hideaki Nishino. “We want gamers to feel like the controller is an extension of themselves when they’re playing – so much so that they forget that it’s even in their hands.”

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