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Sony unveils PlayStation 5 controller design in surprise tweet

Lisa Marie Segarra

Sony surprised gaming fans with a look at the new controller for the PlayStation 5 — and it’s not a DualShock.

The tweet comes amid a long silence from Sony on the upcoming PlayStation console, which is expected to launch for the holiday 2020 season. PlayStation also published a blog post with further details on the new controller, this time called a DualSense. The Sony console’s controllers are typically named DualShock, with a number that corresponds to the PlayStation generation it’s created for.

The DualSense takes much of its function from the DualShock 4 introduced with the PlayStation 4. It has a similar button layout, with a touchpad and an Options and Create button (formerly the Share button for the PS4), and keeps the joysticks together at the bottom, with a D-pad on the left and its signature action buttons on the right.

It adds new tricks, as well, like a built-in mic and haptic feedback that will give players a better tactile feel to immerse themselves in games. This means the controller won’t give off the same rumble each time and instead change based on the in-game scenario.

“DualSense marks a radical departure from our previous controller offerings and captures just how strongly we feel about making a generational leap with PS5,” Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO Jim Ryan said in a statement. “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.”

The form, however, is a significant departure for Sony. Its DualShocks have seen few changes, with the biggest jump coming in the last generation. The DualSense for the PS5, however, gets a two-toned design overhaul. The light bar, introduced in the DualShock 4, now surrounds the touchpad.

“Our design team worked closely with our hardware engineers to place the triggers and actuators,” the post from Hideaki Nishino, senior vice president of platform planning and management, explains. “The designers were then able to draw the lines of how the exterior of the controller would look and feel, with a challenge of making the controller feel smaller than it really looks. In the end, we changed the angle of the hand triggers and also made some subtle updates to the grip.”

The team worked on limiting the weight despite the new features, tried to preserve battery life, and tested the controller on various hand sizes. This last part seems especially important, as Nishino further explained that Sony wanted its new PlayStation controller to feel like an extension of the players’ hands, making it easy to forget about.

Sony did detail some features for its new propriety controller. In an interview, Ryan and system architect Mark Cerny laid out the features the PlayStation 5 controller would bring, like the advanced haptic feedback and adaptive triggers that can change the resistance depending on the gameplay.

The look of the PlayStation 5 still hasn’t been released. Ryan said the console design will be revealed “in the coming months.” But considering the dwindling time from now till launch, many players are already anxious for updates. The future is even murkier considering Sony already opted to skip gaming conference E3 before it was canceled due to concerns around the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19. So when Sony planned, or currently plans, to give information on its anticipated console is a mystery.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created rippling disruptions in the gaming and tech industries and beyond. But Sony said it does not expect the PlayStation 5 to be delayed.