Going back decades, a popular recurring topic in the game industry has been that game controllers have too many buttons. They confuse people who don’t play regularly, the thinking goes. They scare off new players. Nintendo spent a generation testing the theory with the Wii. Apple built a phone based on similar logic.
With its new DualSense Edge controller, Sony doesn’t seem particularly worried about any of that. Adding up things you can press, move, talk into, click, swipe, slide, or swap out, there are more than 30 ways to interact with the device. That doesn’t include alternate states like holding down buttons, or the extensive options you can tweak in PlayStation 5 menus.
Much like Xbox’s Elite series of pro controllers, Sony’s DualSense Edge was never meant to appeal to everyone. But after spending some time with it recently, it seems utterly comprehensive and a great fit for those willing to shell out $199.99 to optimize every aspect of their controller.
The big pitch for the DualSense Edge is that it gives you much more control over various aspects of the standard DualSense. That includes physical changes and add-ons: the grips feel more rubbery and less likely to slip out of your hands; you can swap out the analog sticks to replace them; you can swap out stick caps to choose your preferred length and style; you can swap in lever or half-dome buttons on the back of the controller for additional button inputs; you can slide a small switch to adjust the firmness of the triggers; you can hold either of two “function” buttons to change your controller settings on the fly; and you can lock a wired cord in place with a “connector housing” cap to prevent any chance of it being disconnected during a game.
It also includes extensive software menus in the PS5 interface that let you adjust things like analog stick sensitivity and deadzones, giving you control over different types of stick speeds to better suits different styles of games. And those options are built around a custom profiles system, so you can quickly jump between different styles of play or across different games and keep your precise settings ready to go at a second’s notice.
It all works very well. It’s fun to tinker with the different settings and set games up as you like them, like making the triggers stiff for fighting games or making your turn speed quicker for shooters. It’s simple to change the settings in the menus and, in some cases, on the fly while you’re playing games.
Granted, when I first started using the controller, I accidentally pressed one of the function buttons a couple of times when not paying attention, and while many buttons on the controller can be disabled, those cannot. Though after getting used to the controller over the course of an hour or so, this seemed to be less of an issue.
Similar to the Xbox Elite, the price will be an issue for many. The DualSense Edge costs $200, which is not far off from similar pro controllers, yet still a lot considering how similar the Edge looks compared to the standard DualSense on the surface. You could argue that it feels like you’re paying for Sony’s R&D more than the specific plastic and metal that comes with the device, given how DualSense Edge costs almost three times what a DualSense regularly does.
One of the questions I’ve been thinking over since playing with it is whether DualSense Edge is a better controller for people who don’t want to customize every detail of their experience. Is it for PS5 owners who just play games to appreciate them, rather than to perfect their performance?
This isn’t a controller for everyone, even if you have the money and feel like you want “the best” of everything. There are a few features that make for a more enjoyable experience outside of competitive play, like using the lever back buttons to make racing games feel more realistic, and it’s convenient to be able to easily switch between preset profiles for different games. There’s also the bonus that, theoretically, the Edge should allow you to minimize the problem of analog stick drift, since you can widen the deadzone in the center of the sticks where drift occurs.
But for the most part, the appeal of DualSense Edge isn’t that it’s a better controller — it’s that you can customize it. You can tweak it so much that, for some players, I imagine all the options will feel overwhelming. For those who compete at a high level, though — or those who like to think they do — it’s hard to imagine not wanting the toolbox that Sony’s put together.
Sony Interactive Entertainment will release the DualSense Edge on Jan. 26, 2023. Pre-orders are available from Sony’s PlayStation Direct website, with other major retailers selling the new controller on Feb. 23, 2023.