PS5 haptic feedback explained: how the DualSense controller is evolving vibration and rumble

Among the features announced for the DualSense was haptic feedback, but what even is it?

by Jason Coles

The PS5 controller finally got announced last night, but it’s not quite what we were expecting.

PlayStation hasn’t shown any real willingness to change the form of their controllers since the inception of PlayStation, so it’s a surprise to everyone to see that the new controller is in fact called the DualSense, and it’s a very different beast from the DualShock 4.

Of the new features included in this overhaul is the haptic feedback. The thing is, saying the phrase haptic feedback is all good and well, but what does it actually mean? How will haptic feedback enhance the DualSense, and how will it improve the player experience?

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What is haptic feedback?

Haptic feedback is effectively an enhanced rumble function. It allows for a wider variety of vibrations, which, in essence, allows for more realistic responses.

If you think of a controller vibration as something akin to a sledgehammer, then haptic feedback allows that sledgehammer to become a screwdriver or a wrench.

It basically means that your controller has a wider range of responses than just shaking violently in your hands. It adds the sense of touch to your gaming experience, which is probably why the controller is called the DualSense.

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The DualSense controller improves on the DualShock 4.

The way that the PlayStation Blog initially describes this is that it “adds a variety of powerful sensations you’ll feel when you play, such as the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud.”

That means that you’ll have a more immersive experience than ever before, and that’ll be, in part, due to the wonders of haptic feedback.

What does haptic feedback mean for games?

Imagine you’re playing Call Of Duty, and you’re about to head around a corner when you feel a low rumble in your controller.

Then you hear a motor from far away, but it’s drawing nearer, the rumble in your controller gets more intense, which makes it almost feel as if you’re there.

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Have you got used to seeing this yet?

That’s the kind of experience you can have via haptic feedback, so the inclusion of this in the next-gen of PlayStation controller should mean a substantially more reactive and more involving experience.

It’s not just the visuals or the audio that will improve, but the actual feel of games will be much better.

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There will undoubtedly be plenty of other ways that the tech can be used to improve player experience too.

How about The Witcher 3 where your controller hums perfectly in time with Geralt’s medallion, or Minecraft were each hit feels like your swinging the pickaxe? It’s an exciting prospect for sure.

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Jason Coles