Not everyone’s happy with Sony’s decision to exclude DualShock 4 support when playing PlayStation 5 games, but if there’s one advantage it’s that developers will have more incentive to utilise the unique features of the DualSense controller. And while the likes of haptic feedback and adaptive triggers have been somewhat overlooked by fans, we reckon the latter in particular could have a huge impact on the immersion of next-gen experiences.
To be clear, this technology is totally different to the rumble triggers found in Xbox One controllers. The idea is that there’s a programmable motor inside the L2 and R2 buttons, which allows developers to change the tension based on what’s happening on screen. Here are just some of the ways we reckon the feature could be used to improve a variety of different games, but we’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section as well.
Okay, let’s get the most obvious example out of the way first and foremost, because Sony itself has been touting this one ever since the DualSense was unveiled. Games like Horizon Forbidden West will allow you to "feel" the tension of your bowstring as you draw arrows back, perhaps even tightening if you hold onto the string for too long. It’s a simple but effective showcase for the feature, and we can’t wait to try it out in Guerrilla Games’ next-gen title.
Fatigue in Sports Games
Aside from a little stamina bar on screen, it’s almost impossible to tell which of your players are gassed when you’re playing FIFA, Madden NFL, NBA 2K, or any other sports games. So here’s a simple but effective solution: the triggers tighten depending on how tired your players are. For example, if you’re running into space as PSG forward Kylian Mbappe in the first few minutes of a game, there should be little resistance. But making that same run in Extra Time, with the Champions League final on the line… Much more difficult. You could even apply the same concept to non-sports games; Grand Theft Auto V, for example, could do away with its antiquated “mash to run” mechanic, and replace it with the adaptive triggers to more effectively reflect your GTA Online character’s energy levels.
Accelerators and Brakes
Haptic feedback is probably going to prove more impactful in racing games, as you physically “feel” the change in tarmac and the grip of your car. However, the adaptive triggers could still have a lot to offer. Jamming the brake at high speeds, for example, will require more exertion as you attempt to slow your car before hitting a hairpin bend. You could also imagine the accelerator being gentle to press as you carefully feather it around a corner, but much stiffer if you’re trying to thrape it through a bend.
What about guns, then? R2 is typically reserved for pulling the trigger, and we already know that titles like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart will use the DualSense’s new technology to mimic the “texture” of different weapons. The sequel’s Enforcer shotgun, for example, will let you fire two rounds or one, and you can physically feel the difference as you pull the trigger. We could imagine the same being true in other shooters: imagine a laser rifle that requires charging – you’d be able to feel the trigger tighten as the energy increases. Or how about a machine gun in a more grounded first-person shooter? Its sheer power should make it more difficult to fire than, say, Agent 47’s signature silenced pistol in Hitman 3.
Grip and Climbing
Climbing in games like Uncharted has admittedly gotten stale, but Naughty Dog had planned to incorporate stamina and other mechanics in A Thief’s End. Imagine how these systems could feel with the DualSense controller: pulling the trigger would be much more difficult when you have a less stable hold, and the tension could even tighten as you cling on and your stamina falls. Even new releases like Fall Guys could benefit from this feature: a last gasp lunge to grab a tail from your rivals could require more effort than an easy snatch from a nearby opponent early in a round.
Building on the aforementioned, everyone loves a grappling hook, don’t they? There’s a lot that could be done with this tried and trusted navigation mechanic. Firstly, haptic feedback should be able to accurately reflect the “swirl” of swinging a rope and the “clank” of it connecting. Then you have the tension: the triggers should tighten when the rope is taut and loosen at the apex of each swing, reflecting the feeling of weightlessness as you battle gravity backwards and forwards. Super cool!
Stamina in Action Games
In games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, stamina is very much a mechanic that needs to be managed. While it replenishes rather quickly, you can’t just hammer away at enemies because you’ll quickly run out of steam. The visual feedback in FromSoftware games is fantastic, because it demonstrates when your character is gassed. But what if you could physically “feel” that exhaustion through the tension of the triggers as well? Not only would it add to the immersion of the gameplay, but it’d also provide crucial feedback through the controller.
It’s becoming increasingly common for titles to let your creative juices flow, with livery editors in racing games a particularly popular feature. So what if you could get more control over your paint strokes by the DualSense’s triggers adapting depending on how broad you want your brush to be? This would be a particularly welcome addition in Dreams, where the triggers are an important part of sculpting and decorating your creations.
How do you think the PS5 controller’s adaptive triggers could be used to improve immersion in games? Let us know which of our ideas you like, and share some of your own in the comments section below.