Wow that PS5 controller is ugly, isn't it?
The PS5 is still quite a ways out, and the marketing has been kind of a roller coaster. Back at CES 2020, Sony only offered a logo as its way of teasing a reveal, a month after Microsoft showed off the Xbox Series X design.
Then, after GDC 2020 got canceled, both console makers revealed deep dives of the specs online in wildly different ways: The Xbox Series X through a detailed blog post over at Digital Foundry, and Sony decided to stream Lead System Architect Mark Cerny talking about SSDs for about an hour.
But today, Sony revealed the DualSense PS5 controller and, well, it's basically the ugliest first-party controller ever designed. I know that right off the bat that might seem like a needlessly hot take, and ultimately if you love it, you're totally valid – but I mean look at it.
Why is the touch pad approximately the size of my forehead? Why is the PS button not a circle that's easy to just reach over and find? Why are all the buttons white? I have so many questions, and so many things that I absolutely abhor about this controller that I'm going to have to dive deep on this one.
In the blog post where Sony took the veil off of this controller, it said that "traditionally our base controllers have been a single color. As you can see, we went a different direction this time around." A 'different direction' is a bit of an understatement, but actually kind of hones in on the major problem with how the controller appears.
In stark contrast to the DualShock 4, which was this one-tone gamepad with a familiar shape, the DualSense controller is this rounded affair that's white at the top and black at the bottom, with a light bar that surrounds the touch pad, making it look way bigger than it probably is. Why?
Across Twitter right after this display was revealed, I started seeing people who A. hated the design, B. love it for some reason or C. sharing an all-black photoshop of a controller that looks way better.
Some other people started coming up with some other edits for the controller, and I'm totally here for those, too. Hey, we're in the middle of social distancing here, so I love the fact that people's creative blood is flowing.
Another problem I have with the DualSense controller's design is the lack of color-coding on the face buttons. I'm pretty familiar with where the all the buttons are on a PlayStation controller, but having green=triangle and blue=x makes it really easy for folks that are new to gaming to jump in and have a good time – especially for anyone that has issues with their sight.
And speaking about accessibility, let's talk about the new PS button. I have pretty good vision, and at least judging the images Sony shared, that new button kind of blends into the background of the controller. I obviously haven't had a chance to play with the PS5 or its controller yet, but I would go ahead and assume that the PS button will have similar functionality as it does now, or as the guide button does on the Xbox One controller – making it extremely important for people to be able to find easily.
There's some good things
I want to be the first out of the gate to applaud Sony on the inclusion of USB-C. Right now, pretty much every device I have in my apartment uses that connection standard, which means it will be super easy to use this controller with whatever charger I have lying around, and more importantly, I can more easily plug it in to my PC – which I fully intend to do.
I also really like the idea of having a microphone built into the controller, and it absolutely baffles me that this hasn't happened before. If you look at the DualShock 4 controller, it has a 3.5mm audio jack on the bottom, which is awesome for plugging in a pair of headphones, but if you don't have the right kind of headset, you can be stuck without a microphone when you need it.
With the built-in microphone, the DualSense controller will let you use basically whatever headphones you have lying around, while still being able to chat with your friends online. There's even a handy little mute button right under the PS button.
The DualSense also looks to be shaped pretty similarly to the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, and that is pretty much my favorite controller to date – one of the most comfortable if you were to ask me.
There seems to be a lot of improvements that went on under the surface with the PS5's DualSense controller, and I definitely don't want to take away from that. If we are just talking about functionality, then this might be Sony's best controller to date. But, there's still quite a bit wrong here.
Ultimately, it's probably fine
There are plenty of people who love this new PS5 controller look, and that's totally valid. Ultimately, as long as the controller does what it needs to do while being comfortable enough to play through PS5 games, it probably doesn't matter too much what the original controller looks like.
Sony will likely be putting out dozens of different DualSense controllers just like it did with the DualShock 4, so while the design of this first one makes me want to vomit a little bit, there will probably be an all-pink controller at launch that I'll be jumping on pretty much immediately.
But, I will say that I'm ready for Sony to lift the veil on what the PS5 is actually going to look like, because while I think it's ridiculous that the Xbox Series X looks like a mini-fridge, at least I know what it will look like.
Either way, it's only a matter of time before Sony unveils the full PS5 design in all its glory. And, if the DualSense controller is any indication, it's probably going to be white and black – just a guess.
- Here's our PS4 Pro review