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Gaming

Review PS5 DualSense Modular Controller: Deluxe Game Changer

A DualSense Edge is shown in its carrying case, with its replaceable analog sticks, charging connector and back paddles also on the underside.

Photo: Eric Schulkin

I spent about a dozen hours playing games with the new DualSense Edge. At first, all the new bells and whistles of the modular PlayStation 5 controller feel extremely redundant to me. I’ve been playing video games on standard controllers all my life with no issues, and even the controller’s settings don’t feel like it really addresses issues I’ve had in some games, like a lack of buttons for extra input or mapping button combinations for ease of use. But that all changes during a game of Overlook 2.

I’m in a firefight playing as Soldier: 76, and while I’m holding off my opponent’s team well enough, I don’t notice a Pharah has flown around the fight and flown into our back line. By the time I hear her, she’s already dropping missiles on my squad, and as I turn to face her with the right thumbstick, I’m also using the rear paddle to reload without having to put my thumb to the square button move or pull a claw maneuver to perform both actions. Because of that split second, I shoot Pharah before she can deal too much damage. That’s when the gears start turning in my head about the benefits of the DualSense Edge.

In most action-oriented video games, the shift between winning and losing a battle can happen in fractions of a second. The more I use the DualSense Edge and play with the different settings, the more I remember times over the years where if I could have changed the kinds of things these controllers allow I might have emerged victorious, instead of dying in the milliseconds it took. took me to press a trigger button and lift my finger to release it. The controller’s adjustable triggers, which let me set the travel distance between the default setting and two shorter ones, are a big boon for me in shooters like Overexpectedlargely because they make the time to shoot just a little faster, but those few seconds add up as a match progresses, and a second can be the difference between a shot fired and your own HP reaching zero.

The Overwatch 2 hero selection screen is shown, with Soldier: 76 selected and in the center.  Overlapping the game is the DualSense controller profile selection screen, which contains the default profile, and a second profile called Overwatch.

With the DualSense Edge you can create. controller profiles and switch them on-the-fly.
Screenshot: Blizzard/Sony/Kotaku

The adjustment also benefits people with chronic pain, as adjustable triggers, analog sticks of different heights, and back paddles of different lengths give the DualSense Edge several options to customize a standard controller in a way that makes it more comfortable to use. I end up using the shorter back buttons because I have smaller hands anyway, so it feels like a more natural fit for how I hold a controller, although some people who have a lighter touch will probably benefit more from the longer paddles.

That said, if you’re someone who has trouble holding a traditional controller, the DualSense Edge probably won’t ease your troubles. However, Sony does have the upcoming codenamed controller “Leonardo Project” is specifically designed to be as customizable as possible for those who need it for accessibility reasons. The DualSense Edge has a lot of great options for fine-tuning your own controller experience, but ultimately it’s a fairly traditional controller that might not suit everyone’s needs.

Having said all that, the DualSense Edge still feels like a luxury item in many ways and has some notable drawbacks for the $200 price point. The one that would probably give people pause is the battery life, which is noticeably shorter than the original DualSense (not that it had great battery life either, but I digress). However, unlike the standard controller, the DualSense Edge comes with a nearly ten foot long braided USB cable and a connector to keep it plugged into your PlayStation 5 and charged. It’s not ideal, but if your entertainment center is set up for it, you can at least charge the DualSense Edge while you play out of the box quite easily.

The biggest disappointment of the DualSense Edge is that despite the extra buttons, actual control scheme customization is completely limited to moving existing buttons to the back of your controller. When I play a game on my PlayStation that is primarily built for PC, I often find myself aching for buttons. The most recent example was Final Fantasy XIV, making the mistake of starting out on PS5 rather than PC – navigating that game on a controller still feels insurmountable to me on a DualSense Edge. I was hoping the extra buttons would give me a means of assigning certain shorthand inputs to the other buttons, but all the back paddles really do is replace buttons that are already elsewhere on the same controller. Now that I’ve had some time with it I realize this is beyond what the DualSense Edge is actually supposed to do, but if you’re hoping to use the controller as a way to expand your input options then this isn’t what you’re looking for .

The DualSense Edge's Customize Button Assignments menu appears, with a diagram of the controller labeling each button with a possible input.

The DualSense Edge allows you to move the input from any button elsewhere on the controller. Want your L2 to work like a circle button? You can.
Screenshot: Sony/Kotaku

Beyond that? The DualSense Edge feels premium. It’s so sturdy and heavy that the original DualSense feels like a toy. It has a glossy, detailed touchpad finish that draws attention. It feels really good in your hands and looks good when you put it down. But even despite the build quality, I still have to question the average person needs the.

If you’re not the sickest of online-playing idiots, many of the benefits DualSense provides feel like a luxury. It’s objectively better than playing with a standard controller, but it comes at such a high price that I have a hard time recommending it to the average person. But it has at least made me think differently about video game inputs. So often the ways we interact with games through controllers fit the shortcomings of the device we’ve been given. That’s how things like the claw grip manifest. We press the face buttons with our index fingers because the button we need isn’t readily available on the back of the controller where our fingers normally are. Controllers like the Xbox Elite and DualSense Edge are admissions that the modern controllers we use have drawbacks worth addressing. And even if it feels like a premium device, it’s a sign of a well-made device that it opened my mind and my gaming to new ways to play.

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