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The untold truth of PS5's DualSense controller

After going months without offering any substantial PlayStation 5 news, Sony is finally giving fans something to get excited about. While the word "exciting" may not describe the college lecture Sony's Mark Cerny conducted in March 2020, new photos and new details are definitely worth paying attention to.

In case you missed it, the company finally unveiled the DualSense. There is no such thing as a DualShock 5, nor will there likely ever be. Sony is going in an entirely new direction with the PlayStation 5's controller. Now players are starting to get a sense of how this new gamepad will factor into the company's next generation strategy.

What's changed? Why does it matter? And what can you expect when the PlayStation 5 comes out during Holiday 2020? Here's a look at the details established about the DualSense prior to Sony actually showing off the controller, as well as everything the company detailed in a blog post about the accessory. There's a whole new design and a lot of interesting tech packed into Sony's latest creation.

New feedback features promise more immersion

Do you remember the Nintendo 64 Rumble Pak? How about the original PlayStation DualShock? Gamers have been playing with controller feedback for a long time, but the technology hasn't really changed all that much in the past few decades. Most pads use motors that shake around. If something happens in a game, the motors buzz. That's how it's been.

The PlayStation DualSense looks to provide a whole new level of immersion when it comes to feedback. This tech will come in the form of two new features.

The first is haptic feedback. The idea of a generalized rumble is going out the window in favor of feedback that actually feels like the response it's trying to convey. Are you slipping across some ice in a particular title? The DualSense will do a better job at translating that feeling. Are you getting absolutely trucked in Madden? Expect to feel a good crunch from the DualSense.

The second feature is adaptive triggers. For a long time, controller triggers have done little other than act as fancy analog buttons. Microsoft added some feedback to its triggers, but nothing like what Sony is doing with the DualSense. The new pad's triggers will offer resistance based on the game being played and the action being taken. So, if you're drawing back your bow in Horizon Zero Dawn, you'll actually feel — as Sony's Jim Ryan put it — the "tactile sensation."

The rechargeable battery could last longer than the DualShock 4

Wireless controllers are pretty much the norm these days, and you know what means: batteries. Whether the battery is built in or you're required to insert a pair of AAs, your controller is going to need power. On the rechargeable side, longer battery life is better. It lets you play for an extended duration without having to plug in and charge up. Unfortunately, the PS4's DualShock 4 was a letdown in this category. That pad only boasted a battery life of "4 to 8 hours," according to Digital Trends. Not great.

Some good news has come with the introduction of the DualSense. Sony states it "took thoughtful consideration into ways to maintain a strong battery life for DualSense's rechargeable battery." This could come in the form of a larger battery or tweaks made to conserve power. The bad news? Sony isn't talking about how long the battery will last right now. There's a chance no one will know for sure until people get their hands on the DualSense as well as the PlayStation 5 later this year.

Hopefully, Sony was able to substantially increase the battery life of the DualSense. If there's one thing most can agree on, it's that having to plug in during a long session of gaming is not fun.

The "Share" button is being replaced

A lot has changed since the current generation of consoles launched back in 2013. Content creation has really taken off, with gaming videos on YouTube, as well as streams on Twitch and Mixer, becoming more commonplace. You don't need a fancy setup to make videos or broadcast your gameplay — both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have that functionality built right in.

It looks like those features won't be going away when the next generation arrives. It does seem, however, that Sony will be putting more of an emphasis on players customizing their content further. While the DualShock 4 included a "Share" button for sharing captures and broadcasting streams, the DualSense will replace that with a "Create" button.

Why the name change? "With Create, we're once again pioneering new ways for players to create epic gameplay content to share with the world, or just to enjoy for themselves," wrote Sony's Hideaki Nishino in a blog post. It sure sounds like the button won't be doing anything all that different, right?

Sony could be adding more ways for players to customize their shares, however. Instead of just posting a gameplay clip to Twitter, for example, those who press "Create" could launch a video editing app that enables them to trim their clips, add effects, and more. No one knows for sure what the "Create" button will do differently at the moment. Sony has said, however, that it'll "have more details on this feature" as the PlayStation 5's launch approaches.

The controller has a two-tone design

If you know only two things about the new DualSense controller, it's that it exists, and that it features a very interesting two-tone design. The tones in question couldn't contrast more with one another: one is white, and the other is black. The result is a controller that definitely stands out. Based on how you prefer the aesthetics of your electronics, you're either going to love it or you're going to hate it.

On one hand, this DualSense design choice sends a message about both the controller and the PlayStation 5. Sony's new console will be able to play games released on PlayStation 4, so in a sense, it's one console tasked with doing two jobs. The DualSense, in a way, reflects that. It looks like a futuristic new PlayStation 5 pad layered on top of the DualShock 4. That's pretty cool.

On the other hand, again, it features two very different colors. If you prefer your gadgets to come in one solid hue, this is your worst nightmare. Some also believe the DualSense could offer a hint as to what the PlayStation 5 will look like. If having a multicolored gamepad doesn't sit right with you, having a black and white console sitting in your entertainment center might really give you a queasy feeling.

It's tough to foresee a Sonic the Hedgehog-like redesign happening at this point, though. So, if you don't like the look of the DualSense, you're likely out of luck.

A built-in mic makes chatting easier

Consoles are mostly online these days, but connecting with friends can still be a pain. Let's say you're watching Netflix on your PlayStation 4. If someone invites you to a party, how quickly can you hop in for a chat? You may need to look for your headset. If your headset is wireless, it may need to be charged. The Xbox One's Kinect was on the right track with its built-in microphone. But the Kinect is dead now. It also doesn't work with a PlayStation.

The DualSense will finally offer what many have been asking for: a microphone for party chats. The PlayStation 5 will be the first console to benefit from this new feature. "DualSense also adds a built-in microphone array, which will enable players to easily chat with friends without a headset – ideal for jumping into a quick conversation," Sony revealed when showing off the controller. "But of course, if you are planning to chat for a longer period, it's good to have that headset handy."

The pad will also have a built-in speaker, which could allow for full voice chat using just the controller. Sony hasn't confirmed chat will work with the speaker just yet, though that would make a whole lot of sense. Hopefully, it will share more soon.

The light bar has moved

Most would agree the DualShock 4's light bar was highly underutilized. It was sometimes used by games so players could tell one controller from another based on the distinct colors. PlayStation VR also made use of the light bar to track the location of the DualShock 4 in physical space. Outside of those cases, though? The light bar wasn't that transformative.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the light bar is taking a bit of a backseat in the design of the DualSense. Instead of trying to provide some functionality outside of simply glowing, it appears the bar will simply put on a little light show.

Sony believes the new implementation of the light bar "will give it an extra pop." While that might be true, it could have consequences for PlayStation VR support on the PS5. Will Sony require you to use a DualShock 4 with PSVR on its new console? Or will Sony roll out a new VR headset with new tech sooner rather than later? Those questions will hopefully be answered in the months ahead.