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PS5 Controller: What will the DualShock 5 be like?

PS4 controller vs PS5 controller
(Image credit: Future)

The wait for PS5 controller news continues, despite the wealth of PS5 information released during Sony's March 17 livestream. We were drowned in numbers and infographics, but system architect Mark Cerny had next to nothing to say about the PS5 controller, AKA the DualShock 5. The good news is that Sony is clearly getting more comfortable discussing its next console, so some proper PS5 controller news- and hopefully an official image or render - should arrive soon enough. In the meantime, here's everything we've already learned about the controller, from patents to rumors to old interviews.

The PS5 controller will feature haptic feedback

Haptic feedback motors built into the triggers of the current Xbox One controller

Haptic feedback motors built into the triggers of the current Xbox One controller (Image credit: Microsoft)

There's one thing we know for certain about the PS5 controller, namely that it will feature some degree of haptic feedback technology. The pad will not only boast 'adaptive triggers' similar to the current Xbox One controller, capable of offering varying resistance levels to simulate things like shooting a bow and arrow, but will also wield advanced haptic feedback built into the grips. It's this that will allow you to feel more nuance in the vibrations in your pad than traditional rumble. 

For example, the PS5 Wired article describes what it's like to play a version of Gran Turismo Sport on the PS5 devit: "Driving on the border between the track and the dirt, I could feel both surfaces. Doing the same thing on the same track using a DualShock 4 on a PS4, that sensation disappeared entirely."

It could look very similar to the PS4 controller, the DualShock 4

(Image credit: USPTO)

In that same article, one of the things that really stood out was that the prototype the reporter was given, described as an "unlabeled matte-black doohicky that looks an awful lot like the PS4's DualShock 4." 

That's also mirrored by every patent, and leaked images of the prototype, that we've seen so far. So whilst the PS5 controller will boast new technology and features, don't expect it to deviate too far from what we already have with the DualShock 4 in terms of its visual consistency. 

PS5 Devkit Cleaning from r/PS5

It should be backwards compatible

(Image credit: Sony)

There's a huge push with the next-gen consoles to fully support backwards compatibility. Microsoft has already heavily committed to it both with the Xbox One and the upcoming Xbox Series X, and it's assumed that Sony will also pivot to a much more streamlined backwards compatibility system. 

Recently, a listing on PlayStation France's website seemingly confirmed that the PS5 controller will work on the PS4 and PS4 Pro. That would be a huge boon for gamers looking to upgrade their pads before making the complete leap to the PS5, but also means that if you do want to keep your PS4 after the upgrade, you can utilise the new pad tech on your existing games.

The PS5 controller will probably have back buttons

DualShock 4 back button attachment

The recently released PS4 DualShock 4 back button attachment

There's likely a big reason why Sony suddenly dropped a brand new PS4 accessory in the very same year the PS5 hits retail, and that's future-proofing. Although Sony hasn't confirmed this itself yet, the fact Sony released the PS4 DualShock back button attachment now signals that the PS5 controller will have back buttons, or paddles, when it arrives later this year.

So far, the prototypes described officially, and leaked online in image form, haven't featured such buttons, but there are plenty of patents that suggests their presence in the final iteration of the pad. 

(Image credit: USPTO)

The above patent, just one of many found earlier this year, suggests the PS5 controller will feature a back button or paddles. This version of the pad sports two back paddles tucked in behind the grips, which is very similar to the configuration you get by adding the back button attachment to the DualShock 4. 

It may have an in-built microphone

(Image credit: USPTO)

Another strong rumour for a PS5 controller addition is that of an in-built microphone. A patent discovered earlier this year, filed with the WIPO, reveals PlayStation is toying with ideas for a gamepad with a microphone implemented into the front of the controller itself - 22M on the above patent diagram. 

This lines up with a comment that came from that huge Wired piece, which makes reference to a potential microphone spotted on "a prototype of the next-generation controller". It's never mentioned again in the copy, but it does suggest the device is visible enough to be one of the instant remarks when seeing the prototype. 

Three people may be able to use it at once

(Image credit: US Patent and Trademark Office)

Although this is by no means a confirmed PS5 controller feature, it is one of the more interesting patents that has emerged. Sony filed the patent in question with the USPTO in mid-2018, and it details the intention to make it easier to share one PS5 controller with multiple people, even going so far as to suggest that different buttons could be assigned to different players. 

The patent references "split controller gameplay" where a game might see one user in command of the analogue sticks, another on the triggers, and the third controlling the DualShock's face buttons, together operating a single character on the same screen. There's also mention of turn-based sharing via the cloud, where different PSN account holders use the same controller on rotation. 

The PS5 controller may read your heart rate... and sweat

(Image credit: USTPO/Sony)

Finally, yet another potential feature for the PS5 controller comes courtesy of a patent filing found earlier this year. It suggest that the upcoming pad could use "biofeedback information to select between one or more options presented in a piece of content without the user having to provide further input", mentioning electrodermic activity as a yardstick for monitoring player response.

 Basically, the controller could use your heart rate pace or the amount you're sweating to adjust the gameplay, which it would gauge through the controller's grips. If that means that a horror game would make things less terrifying – or worrying more so – based on the quickening of my heart rate, that could be a seriously cool feature.

For more on why you should be excited about next-gen consoles, check out this little lot:

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