Does Sony Need to Redesign the DualShock for PlayStation 5?

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Not too long ago, Sony revealed a ton of new details for its upcoming PlayStation 5 console, including the official release window. The company would also go on to discuss the controller, presumably dubbed the DualShock 5, and revealed a few key details about it as well, namely adaptive triggers and a new haptic feedback system.

What's confirmed about this new PS5 controller is that the adaptive triggers will give developers a way to highlight how difficult or different certain tasks are. This means that, for example, firing a bow could get harder and harder to pull back on the trigger for, and firing a shotgun will feel differently from firing an SMG. One example of the improved haptic feedback system is how it responds to the environment, with the sliding effect of the ice and the slogging effect of mud being able to take front and center. It also has programmable voice-coil actuators in each grip and a USB Type-C port for charging.

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The controller also seems to have some type of support for the rumored PlayStation Assist functionality, essentially an AI companion that will work like Siri. The associated patent, which may never prove to be the real thing, may see PlayStation Assist able to search for guides and answers in regards to what the gamer is playing. Whether this is the case or not remains to be seen, but when asked, the controller's architect Mark Cerny deflected the question.

Reportedly, the new DualShock 5 controller is a bit heavier than its predecessor, which may play some role in how much PS5 owners like the controller. This also poses a simple, interesting question: Should the DualShock 5 controller have a significant redesign? After all, the PS4 controller is one of the most complained about aspects of the PS4 by some, and doing so may go a long way in the PS5 console convincing Xbox One fans to jump brands next generation.

Those who dislike the PS4 controller usually cite one of a few possible reasons. Many dislike the size of the controller and how small it feels in comparison to the Xbox controller. Others cite the placement of the thumbsticks as uncomfortable, preferring an asymmetrical design to the symmetrical one, whereas some also take issue with the big touch pad in the center of the controller. It's a move that would likely win over those who dislike the controller, but on the other hand, would it even be necessary to change the PS5 controller?

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It's worth noting that, slight variations aside, the controller layout has been practically the same since the PS1. Obviously, it's been changed some, but the core layout has practically been the same this entire time, meaning if Sony were to change the design, it would be significant. It's possible, depending on how extensive the redesign was, that it could lose fans in the process. With that in mind and the increased competition from Nintendo and Google moving into the next generation of gaming, it would make sense if Sony did not want to jump ship like that.

There's a possible middle ground here: it's worth mentioning that there are third-party controllers that mimic the Xbox One design with PS4 functionality, so Sony could instead launch two versions of its controller: the standard and perhaps a redesigned feature. This is a stretch, admittedly, but Xbox has experimented with offering various controller designs (the Xbox Elite Controller), so it's not out of the question.

Ultimately, it seems as if it's up to what audience Sony wants to address. Redesigning the controller would like win over some fans, but then longtime fans may be upset by the move and vice versa. Offering both is a possibility, but one that could easily seem unnecessary, given the very existence of the aforementioned third-party controllers. It remains to be seen what the PS5 controller ultimately ends up looking like, but it'll likely sustain the already-great amount of hype surrounding the next-gen console either way.

The PlayStation 5 releases in Holiday 2020.

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