How can you build a better console than the best gamepad that’s come out in years? Sony’s strategy with the DualSense Edge — which arrived January 26th for $199.99 — was familiar. Rather than alter the feel of the buttons or where they are located, Sony’s designers took a completely additive approach, making a highly configurable version of their original PS5 controller. more While you feel practically identical.
The Edge is the same size and shape and has the same buttons and joysticks as far as my fingers can tell. Only now, you get two types of back paddles, adjustable hair triggers, interchangeable stick caps (including classic PlayStation domes), the ability to remap nearly every button on the controller and adjust joystick sensitivity curves, and new dedicated function keys for the Switch. Quick Profiles, and – get this – quick swap stick units without tools so you can replace your broken joystick in 30 seconds.
I spent two hours at PlayStation US headquarters trying all of the above, and unless there are hidden flaws or the battery runs out mid-session, I’m pretty sure this will be the best PS5 controller $200 can buy.
Let’s go through the features one by one. I’ll tell you what I liked – and where I still want more.
In case you missed my February 2021 story, I’ll catch you up: Each Sony DualSense controller is covered in 40,000 PlayStation mini tokens. It’s what it feels like when you’re holding a PS5 gamepad, and here, it feels better because the ones under your fingertips are made to be a little tougher. The triggers are now dotted with PlayStation icons for additional purchase, the touchpad is also dotted with them, and like competitors at this price level – the inner grips are made of rubber instead of plastic.
I don’t think the DualSense Edge actually does look Better than the original because I prefer the original’s white buttons, and I’m not a fan of the new, shiny, fingerprint-magnetic pad on top of the analog sticks. But right away Feel Better, it means a lot to me.
Kudos to Vjeran for capturing the icons in these photos – I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do them justice on my own.
Whether you love or hate the DualSense buttons and joystick, you should know that they are largely unchanged mechanically. I brought the PS5 launch controller from home and Sony provided another, and the only noticeable difference I felt with the DualSense Edge was that the sound of pressing a button was slightly muffled. Maybe it’s more accurate, but I couldn’t spot it in my demos.
But what amazes me is that you can now take off your joystick covers to swap them into an old-school convex dome instead, just like the sticks that shipped with the PS3, PS2, and later PS1. The Edge comes with four of them at two different heights, though I’m sure I’ll only use one—I’ll totally run the Frankenstein setup with one cambered cap and one concave one for comfortable movement and aiming accuracy at the same time.
Additionally, you can program both end zones of the actuator to any degree you like if you want faster response without changing their physical profile.
The paddles are pretty new to Sony, but if you’ve touched an Xbox Elite controller before, you probably know what they look like — nice, solid, and great for tactile metal paddles that rest under your fingers, which could have easily fallen off the back of a gamepad. Or pulled if you’re worried it’ll get in your way. You also get a pair of small half-dome paddles that definitely stay out of your way at the risk of requiring you to reach for them (or rest your middle fingers on them) when it’s time to duck, roll, jump, or whatever else you map there.
When it comes to this joystick, I really like how easy it is to swap out. It takes a small amount of a fingernail to reach the recessed sliding button to pop the cover off, but then it’s just the flick of a metal lever and the joystick unit pulls right out. It’s incredible to think you’ll be able to fix a broken stick or drift for $20 by buying a new unit at retail, no shipping required, and there’s room in the case to carry an extra one, too.
Me, I wish Sony had opted for a Hall Effect sensor joystick to begin with so drift was never an issue. (Sega Dreamcast got them 23 years ago.) Sadly, Sony told me you’re still getting potentiometer-based joysticks here, and won’t even begin to talk about the possibility of additional parts for the Edge. I’d like to see Hall Effect units and some different stick tops as well.
You can map almost every button on this controller to any other – save the touchpad and system keys like PlayStation and Share, all of which you can at least turn off to avoid any finger mishaps. You can also disable and place the start/options button, for example, with a hard press on the right analog stick to avoid accidentally bringing up the game menu. And you can adjust the entire response curve of your joysticks, set their internal dead zone, as well as reduce your controller’s tactile feedback if it’s throwing you off your game.
Why deviate from the norm? For any number of reasons, and Sony makes it easy to try out for yourself by letting you jump from a game straight into programming a controller profile and instantly back again, and you can instantly switch back to the virtual controls any time you want. When I let the chaos reign by swapping the D-pad and face buttons, this came Reality easy.
Switching profiles is as easy as holding down the two new function keys below the analog sticks and then clicking the face button. You can have three custom profiles saved to the console at once, as well as the default PlayStation controls, each mapped to one of the console’s Cross-Square-Triangle-Circle face buttons for easy access. There’s even a simple LED pattern below the touchpad to help you tell which profile you’re on, though a simple 1-4 dot readout probably isn’t a good enough memory aid for me.
I decided I wanted a slow-moving sniper profile and a very responsive rifle Modern Warfare IIbut I didn’t need to pause my game to switch: Fn + Square and Fn + X let me quickly switch between them so I could change my playstyle by simply picking a different weapon off the ground.
You can save a total of 30 different profiles on your controller, but you don’t need to leave them there — Sony imagines you can take your DualSense Edge for a spin, plug it in with the included USB cable, and have your three profiles ready to go to the console’s internal memory.
And Sony assures me you can port it to PC too — as long as the game and/or game platform supports it, which might take a little work because it’s not quite the same as DualSense. “Existing PC games that support a DualSense wireless controller today can also support a DualSense Edge wireless controller through an update implemented by the developer. Please stay tuned for more information as we work with our development partners,” reads part of the statement via PlayStation spokesperson Ken Zhang.
As customizable as they are, I feel like Sony is just scratching the surface here. Maybe Steam Deck spoiled me, but for me, it’s the fully customizable controller that lets you set multiple Buttons per button, let you set turbo buttons, program multi-step macros, and add gyro aiming to any game. Steam Deck is my favorite place to play Genshin effect Now, I’m broadcasting from my PS5, because aiming is so much easier when you have a spin on your side.
The company only says that it will have a “relatively shorter” battery life than the original DualSense. Here’s Sony’s full statement on that, via company spokesperson Zhang:
The runtime of the DualSense Edge Wireless Controller is moderately shorter than the original DualSense Wireless Controller because we’ve included many features in the same form factor and ergonomic design as the original DualSense Controller. We wanted to strike a good balance between wireless uptime and offering powerful, high-performance features. In addition, the longer braided USB cable is also great for competitive gamers who prefer to play with a wired connection to avoid wireless interference – this option conserves battery life.
We hope we can give you answers there in a full review. Anything else you want to know? Let me know in the comments, and we’ll do our best once we have one in the house.