As we’ve continued to learn ever since our PS5 review, the DualSense controller is a bit of a revelation in terms of gameplay feedback. The pad allows you to feel PlayStation 5 games in a way that you never could with past DualShock devices, providing force feedback in the triggers and ridiculously realistic rumble sensations that have the capability of illustrating different textures.
But while the technology is revolutionary, it’s ultimately going to come down to developers to use it in meaningful ways. We thought it would be useful to put together some of the games we feel have made best use of the DualSense so far.
Yes, Astro’s Playroom remains the best example of DualSense’s capabilities thus far, leveraging all of the pad’s features to frankly frightening levels. This is a game where you can physically feel raindrops landing in your hand; where a machine gun rattles under your fingertips when your fire it. Extraordinary stuff, and the benchmark for Sony’s fancy controller.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is massively improved with the DualSense controller, as the triggers add recoil to every shot you fire. Depending on the weight of the weapon, you’ll feel resistance in L2 when you aim down sights, which gives heft to larger firearms. The real cool feature, however, is the way R2 rattles under your finger – and even jams when you're reloading. Meanwhile, the haptics add directional feedback to what’s happening on screen, such as nearby explosions and bullets. It’s truly revolutionary stuff, and while professionals may feel it affects their performance, as a casual we enjoyed the added immersion.
Bluepoint said it wanted you to feel the clash of metal-on-metal with its next gen remake of Demon’s Souls and there’s definitely texture to the haptic feedback that you wouldn’t get with traditional rumble. While we can’t say we’ve necessarily noticed much out of the ordinary in melee combat, we like the way the control alerts you to incoming fire casks – or how magic spells pulse powerfully in your hands as you cast them. All in all, though, this is a rather understated, minimal implementation of the pad, which is fine considering the context.
GTA 5 may be almost a decade old, but Rockstar has invested significant care and attention into its DualSense support. Subtlety is the secret here: you'll feel the roar of your favourite Pfister's engine in your fingertips, of course, but also the tingle of raindrops falling from the almost-always sunny Los Santos sky. The adaptive triggers fight back when you pull the trigger, but lightly, and combined with the aforementioned haptic feedback it creates for a satisfying sensation that greatly improves upon the DualShock 4's traditional rumble motors.
Gran Turismo 7
It probably doesn't come as much of a surprise, but Gran Turismo 7 is one game that competes with Astro's Playroom when it comes to DualSense implementation. The way you are able to feel different surfaces as you drive along is outrageously good, making you really feel as though you're rooted to the experience. The haptics are just sublime, and while the triggers are more subtle, the application apes a car's brakes suitably well. An awesome effort from Polyphony Digital.
Horizon Forbidden West
When the DualSense was being pushed hard before release, a key example of the adaptive triggers' capabilities was the idea of pulling a bow string taut. Horizon Forbidden West does indeed make the act of using a bow and arrows more tactile in this manner, with a satisfying buzz as you prepare your shot. The triggers also get some great usage in other areas, like when prying open a door — it just feels far more engaging with that little extra resistance. As for the haptics, they're used relatively sparingly, but the overall effect is very nice, giving Aloy physicality in the world; you feel the tall grass brushing by, or her swimming through the sea.
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
It may be a first-party exclusive, but Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales makes sparing use of Sony’s new controller technology. There’s really not much to talk about here at all: there’s some extra tension in the triggers when swinging, which is weird at first but easy to adapt to. There’s also a little extra dimension to the rumble when in combat; for example, when you perform Venom punches you’ll feel the transition of energy pulse across the pad. And that’s about it really. There is a cool moment where Miles types on a keyboard, and you can feel the individual button presses all across the controller.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Miles Morales might've had fairly understated usage of the DualSense, but Insomniac has made up for it with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. The colourful shooter-platformer has its typical array of unusual weaponry, and they come to life even more with PS5's pad. Each gun feels different to use thanks to imaginative use of the triggers, and the haptic feedback is put through its paces, even tingling as you vacuum up hundreds of bolts.
Housemarque's excellent third-person shooter is great for many reasons, but Returnal's DualSense work is among the best. The haptics are in near constant use, whether it's raindrops falling into your hands or whirring sensations as you pass through a teleporter. The adaptive triggers are used for a fundamental gameplay quirk; L2 acts as two inputs, with a soft lock half-way down letting you choose between precision aim or alt-fire. It all really adds a lot to the game's frenetic combat.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure
Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a prime example of a game that disappoints a little after playing Astro’s Playroom. To be clear: its use of the DualSense is not bad at all. However, once you’ve physically felt different surfaces through the controller, it’s hard to play a title that doesn’t provide the same level of feedback. There are some cool ideas here, though: browsing menus genuinely feels tactile due to the way the haptic feedback is utilised, while the triggers tighten as you pick up objects to reflect the strain of its eponymous hero. There are even some moments where you have to use motion controls, and the gyroscopes work perfectly. It’s just, we can’t help but be disappointed when it rains in game and you can’t feel it through the DualSense now.
WRC 10 is not only a great rally simulation, but it also makes fantastic use of the DualSense controller. The implementation is subtle here, but there’s texture and nuance to it. You can physically feel your car’s weight transition as you slide around corners, and you can sense the grip of the tires against the gravel as you accelerate out. The triggers pop and flutter in unison with what you’re seeing on screen, allowing you to physically feel the bumps in the road and make better decisions with your brakes. When a game uses the PS5’s pad this well, it’s hard to go back to traditional racing games.
So, those are our favourite DualSense experiences on PS5 so far. Which games do you think use it best? Feel more in the comments section below.