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  • Cheryl Tan

Playstation 5 Hands-On: DualSense is a Game-changer!

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

So, we were invited to a Sony PlayStation Media Event about a couple of days ago, and that was where we got our first hands-on experience with the PlayStation 5.

Now, unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to film our experience, and they wouldn’t let us touch the console itself, so we can’t really show much. We literally have just these few photos, that’s it, but we still want to share our experience with it, and yeah… it was pretty amazing.

In total, we got to try out 3 games.

Sackboy, A Big Adventure, Balan Wonderworld and the last, technically not a game per se, but it’s Astro’s Playroom.

So for those of you who’re into Sackboy, it’s pretty much the same iconic platformer, except there’s more 3D platforming as opposed to the usual 2.5D. Graphics-wise, you can basically expect all the good stuff you get with a GPU upgrade. 

Better textures, better lighting and shadows, more effects, so on and so forth. And because there’s a story, the cinematics look really great as well, and as far I can tell, they are all real-time rendered. During gameplay, we did not notice a single stutter, and it was pretty much a locked 60fps experience at full 4K, no upscaling, checkerboard rendering whatsoever.

The game also makes full use of the DualSense Controller, incorporating design elements that make use of the Motion Sensors, the Triggers, so on and so forth. Though more on that, later.

Next, we got to try was Balan Wonderworld.

To oversimplify things, Balan Wonderworld is really similar to Sackboy. It’s a 3D platformer, and you play as one of either two characters, Leo or Emma, roped in by the Maestro Balan and going about Wonderworld, collecting crystals and statues as you progress through the levels. The main difference would be the mechanic to collect costumes, which are mostly animal-based, and will give you a corresponding ability to help you through the levels.

One thing to note is that the game isn’t voiced, or rather, they talk gibberish, so think of Monster Hunter language.

Honestly, though, this was the weakest demo of the three. Gameplay wasn’t that inspiring, neither did it make use of the unique features of the DualSense controller. Graphics will also leave you wanting, though it’s kind of understandable as it’s a cross-platform game, including the Nintendo Switch. On the other hand, though, the cinematics are Square Enix quality, so there’s that.

The last one we tried is Astro’s Playroom, and yeah, it’s not really a game. It’s more like an interactive demo.

But this was actually the one that left us most impressed, simply because it showed the full capabilities of what the DualSense brings to the table and in my opinion, actually physically enhances the gaming experience.

So, the DualSense controller.

First, to give you an idea of what it feels like in your hand, we would say it’s a combination of the Xbox One controller, and the Dualshock 4. It’s definitely larger, but also quite a lot more comfortable in our opinion.

Now onto the new features, which there are mainly three. Motion Sensor, Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Triggers.

Motion Sensor is pretty straightforward. We would say that it’s basically an upgrade of the one found in the DualShock 4 or even the Six-Axis of the Dualshock 3.

Tilt left, right, front, back, move it up or down, so on and so forth. It just simply tracks better and there’s more degree of motion at every inclination. So like in Sackboy for example, we had to tilt forward to move a floating platform, things like that. In all, it’s basically a refined system.

Haptic Feedback is where it gets interesting. We would say this is far better than the HD Rumble you can find in the Switch Pro controller.

Now it’s really hard to explain, but let’s try. Take the DualSense. Imagine splitting up the controller into a thousand different, almost equal, pieces on all axes, X, Y and Z.

So in Astro’s Playroom, there was a part where Astro was skating on ice. You can literally feel the vibration and feedback from the grips as he’s skating around. Now to be clear, it’s not just an On and Off switch from the left motor to the right, it’s more like a smooth wave, up and down, left to right, vice versa. The best example that we can think of for you to relate to, is to compare Stereo sound and Surround Sound or Dolby Atmos.

There was another part where Astro had to walk head-on against a sandstorm, and you can literally feel the vibration moving from the top of the DualSense, to the bottom, and it doesn’t feel linear, but rather haphazard, just like in a sandstorm.

That’s the difference.

It’s really hard to explain, but once you’ve tried it, you’ll understand.

Lastly are the Adaptive Triggers, which honestly might be one feature that can directly impact gameplay.

So unlike the Triggers on the DualShock 4 or the Xbox One controller which have a linear tension, the tension for the Adaptive Triggers on the DualSense can be customized, depending on how the developers want it to be.

So for example in Astro, when you’re just exploring around, the Triggers have a linear tension by default. But the moment you pick up a weapon like a minigun, the tension for the Triggers changes immediately.

Now, instead of a linear tension, there’s now almost zero tension from 0 to 20 percent, but the moment you hit that 20% mark, you need to put in additional force to actually press the trigger, just like you would an M16 rifle, or a SAR 21 if you’re in Singapore.

Particularly in this case for Astro’s Playroom, as you continue firing the gun, the trigger pull also gets lighter and lighter as you expend your ammo.

Conversely, there was a bow and arrow in the demo as well, and again, the tension for the triggers change, and it’s now like an exponential curve, where it’s easy to initiate the pull, but it gets tougher and tougher until the very end of the trigger.

To us, the Adaptive Triggers was definitely the highlight of the DualSense and my entire experience at the media event. But again, we do have to mention that all these features will depend entirely on the game developers to implement.

Now, of course, we wish there were more games we could try out, especially more graphically demanding ones like Spiderman Miles Morale, or CyberPunk 2077, and we actually would’ve liked to talk more about the console itself but well, perhaps another time. In all though, PS5 is looking great.

For more information on the PS5 or to support us, get it on Amazon here.

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