Hands on: Sony PlayStation 5

October 30th, 2020 | by Yap Hui Bin
Hands on: Sony PlayStation 5

Yes, I have held the DualSense controller in my hands. And, oh, what a feeling!

I managed to spend about an hour with the PlayStation 5 (PS5) at a Singapore media event this week and played Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Astro’s Playroom demo, and felt the enormous potential of the DualSense controller.

Astro’s Playroom demo, which is developed to show off the new DualSense controller, blew me away.  I see why it was important to call the new controller “DualSense” since it is all about the sensation.

The sophistication of the haptic feedback, the vibrations that seem to come from different parts of the controller, and the sensation of holding it in my hands is something that is hard to describe.

I can feel Astro’s skates scraping on the ice as it glides on frozen surfaces, the tightness and recoil of the spring as it winds up and jumps, and the tension when Astro is pulling on a bunch of wires. I can even feel the gritty resistance of the air when Astro walks into a sandstorm.

Can you feel the wind? Astro’s Playroom demo shows off what the new DualSense controller can do. ILLUSTRATION: PlayStation handout

The DualSense has the potential to take games to a whole new dimension, though how much of its sensory functions get used eventually really depends on the game developers and how they incorporate it in upcoming games. 

Perhaps the horror games of the future will take on a different feel if we can better sense the scratchy, quaking fear right in our hands. All I can say is, I can’t take my hands off the DualSense controller.

I loved the original DualShock controller – it’s my favourite across all the other controllers that I have – but I wasn’t prepared for how sophisticated the DualSense feels. It’s a far cry from the comparatively primitive and coarse vibrations of the DualShock – of course, this is said in retrospect.

What a feeling! You can’t see it here but the vibrations and haptic feedback on the DualSense controller are truly sophisticated. PHOTO: Yap Hui Bin

There’s also an inbuilt gyroscope that lets you control the game depending on how much you tilt the controller, which takes a bit of getting used to.

I can imagine it being rather tricky to use the controller with the gyroscope in racing games where I involuntarily tilt the controller while trying hard to steer. Or maybe it’s a good thing that can help me steer better!

What I do miss are the cool strip of light on the touch pad of the DualShock controller and the iconic colours for the four buttons.

Instead, the light now borders the touchpad of the DualSense controller and all four buttons are monochromatic with a transparent design. Okay, the trade-off is forgotten when I feel what the DualShock controller can do in my hands. 

The new PS5 DualSense controller featuring lights bordering the touchpad. PHOTO: Yap Hui Bin
My faithful golden DualShock controller here for contrast and comparison. Still loving that light strip. PHOTO: Yap Hui Bin

Holding the DualSense controller, I did think it is rather smooth in terms of grip which makes me worry about the possibility of dropping the controller when playing intensely scary games like The Last of Us (which I did on a few occasions) in the future.

Also, the four action buttons feel much flatter than in the DualShock controller, which requires a more refined way of handling it, rather than my usual rough, overly brutal style of button mashing. How will it fare in fighting games in my hands?

It also feels larger and thicker than the DualShock, which is a minus for me since I have small hands and the current DualShock is really comfortable even after hours of play.

Unfortunately, since I only had a brief hands-on session with a limited selection of games, I didn’t get a chance to test out the PS5 rigorously.

I would have loved to see how it performs when running realistic-looking, graphically-demanding action games, but maybe we’ll have a chance for that in the future.

I feel rather dwarfed by the actual PS5 console but the controller is absolutely sensational in more ways than one! PHOTO: Yap Hui Bin

Seeing the actual PS5 in person, I was quite awed by the bulky form of the console. I didn’t get a chance to carry it to see how hefty it is but it’s certainly quite massive.

Unlike the PS4 Slim that could fit comfortably into my tote bag, this new console is not something I will be lugging around.

Then again, what is probably more important is the thing that we touch and hold in our hands for hours on end.

Never mind the not-so-great looks, what counts is really how it makes you feel, right? I look forward to trying this out more when I get the chance soon.

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