Why it matters: We already know that the PlayStation 5 is getting a refreshed controller called the DualSense. Sony has shared a little about what new features it brings to the table, like a new haptic feedback system, "adaptive triggers," and 3D sound. However, it has been a bit vague about how the latest tech will change gameplay.
The haptic feedback system in the DualSense wireless controller is not your typical rumble pack. Not only is it capable of a wide range of vibrations, from subtle to rough, but tactile sensations can also be felt in specific zones on the controller. For example, in Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the controller does not just vibrate to simulate Spider-Man's spidey sense, it tells the player which direction the danger is coming from.
"The haptic feedback precision allows us to do all sorts of new things," said the game's Creative Director Brian Horton. "We'll be hinting to players which direction attacks are coming from by providing haptic feedback from the appropriate direction on the DualSense wireless controller."
"Because of the high resolution of [the] controller's haptics system, we can really push the dimensionality of the feedback," Horton added, meaning that each attack will feel unique.
The adaptive triggers also provide exciting possibilities for developers. Haptic feedback combined with the variable resistance of the triggers means that you can feel a sensation similar to say, drawing a bow. That's just one example, which Sony alluded to in its recently leaked then released PS5 ad (below).
Dinga Bakaba, the director of Deathloop, explains that his team is using the adaptive triggers to simulate the jamming of the player's gun.
"Deathloop being a first-person shooter, we do a lot of things to make weapons feel differently from one another. One I like is blocking the triggers when your weapon jams, to give to the player an immediate feedback even before the animation plays out, which prompts the player in a physical way that they have to unjam their gun."
Ghostwire: Tokyo Director Kenji Kimura, says that they are using the triggers to simulate firearm recoil, as well as other aspects of gameplay. Other games, including Horizon Forbidden West, Demon's Souls, Godfall, Astro's Playroom, and others, are also incorporating the tech.
It will be interesting to see the creative ways developers apply the trigger technology in games. It recalls to mind the Psycho Mantis boss battle in Metal Gear Solid that used the rumble to move the controller. Imagine if that fight also featured triggers that stopped working at Mantis' command.
The developers did not talk too much about the PlayStation 5's 3D sound system, called "Tempest 3D AudioTech." However, Sony Interactive Entertainment's Vice President of Global Marketing Mary Vee hinted that the new tech is more than just somthing producing three-dimensional sound. The way she describes it, it seems that developers have tools that allow in-game models to react to auditory cues in the environment.
"Sound then comes from all directions as the central character reacts to everything she hears – whether it's coming from the front, the side, above, or from behind her – showcasing the PS5 console's Tempest 3D AudioTech," Vee said in reference to new PS5 ad. It's hard to say for sure what the VP meant with that statement. Perhaps she was just being dramatic, but I'm sure we will hear more about how it works before or after release.
All these new technologies sound exciting on paper. It will be interesting to see if they live up to the hype when the PlayStation 5 launches this holiday season, perhaps as early as October.