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What Haptic Feedback Does & How It Works


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Summary

  • The PS5 DualSense controller’s haptic feedback technology provides more precise sensations through advanced vibration motors.
  • The controller’s adaptive trigger buttons offer immersive sensations by simulating resistance and tension.
  • Many PS5 games, especially exclusives, make use of the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback to enhance gameplay immersion.


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The PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller comes equipped with haptic feedback technology, which allows players to physically feel things like, according to Sony prior to release, “slow grittiness of driving a car through mud” as they happen on-screen. Despite this seemingly lofty claim, the PS5 controller’s haptic feedback technology isn’t particularly out-there, although the way it works compared to normal rumble vibration really does allow it to create more precise sensations.

Reactions were mixed towards Sony’s original DualSense controller reveal. Many felt the controller’s two-toned design looked odd, and the overall wider, rounder shape than traditional DualShock controllers drew criticism that the DualSense looked like an Xbox controller. However, once players got it in their hands and were able to experience its immersive features, most concerns went out the window. The DualSense implements massive improvements over the PS4 controller, including a built-in microphone, new “adaptive triggers,” and, most importantly, haptic feedback. Here’s how this advanced rumble tech works.

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How The PS5 Controller’s Haptic Feedback Differs From Normal Rumble

Astro Bot hugging the left handle of a DualSense controller, with a happy expression on its robotic screen face.

What controller manufacturers call “haptic feedback” is really just one advanced form of haptic technology. The vibration felt in the N64 Rumble Pack, for example, is technically still considered haptic feedback, which simply refers to technology that creates a sense of touch through vibration or other means.

What makes the PS5 controller’s haptic feedback different is the nuance of its vibration motors, which is far more advanced than the typical variable vibrational settings found in previous-generation controllers. Inside each grip of a PS4 controller, there is a large motor with a half-moon-shaped weight, capable of spinning at various speeds and for various durations. These motors can help create immersion-enhancing vibration, but they’re fairly crude, and aren’t able to start and stop very precisely.

Instead, the PS5 uses voice-coil actuators to deliver vibration. These little motors are the same kind of technology that allows speakers to vibrate and create sound, which means they’re able to produce much more precise movements than the larger, spinning rumble motors. These precise movements are often used to imitate particular sensations: the left and right grip throbbing alternately as a player character treads difficult terrain, an increasingly intense rumble as an engine redlines, or tautness giving way to wobbliness as a bow is held drawn for too long.

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But it’s not just the grips, either: the DualSense controller also employs adaptive trigger buttons, which allow for immersive sensations throughout the entirety of the hand. When pressing down on a trigger, it’ll sometimes feel like the button is tightening up beneath the player’s finger, as if it’s offering resistance. This is most commonly used in the aiming and firing of ranged weapons, but it may also be used to simulate a player character’s stamina running out, or a car’s gas pedal springing back up after being pushed down.

This won’t be the first time haptic feedback like this finds its way into a game controller. The triggers of Microsoft’s Xbox Series X/S controllers provide a form of haptic response, and the Switch’s “HD Rumble” is just a very Nintendo way of saying “haptic feedback.” In fact, PlayStation’s Toshi Aoki told WIRED Sony could have implemented haptic feedback with the launch of the PS4 Pro, but it didn’t want to create a “split experience” for those with and without the upgraded controllers.

What Games Take Advantage Of The PS5 Controller’s Haptic Feedback?

Many Titles Use The DualSense’s Unique Features

While both first- and third-party PS5 games make use of the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback, games that Sony had a hand in developing, or that are exclusive to the console, make up the bulk of these titles. Action games like Horizon Forbidden West and God of War Ragnarök use it to make battle more immersive: the controller resonates when blows land, with variable intensity depending on their strength and weapon type. The triggers become taut when aiming a bow, and the grips begin to vibrate when a character loses their grip on the string.

Other games, like Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, use haptics to make traversal more engaging. Feeling the wind ruffle the wingsuit as Spider-Man soars through the sky, the water lapping at his feet as he skims a river, the satisfying thwack of web against building – all this really puts the player in Spider-Man’s shoes. Spider-Man 2 also uses haptic feedback in puzzle-solving, with the controller giving a slight nudge whenever the player makes a move.

Haptic feedback is also commonly used in shooters like Returnal and the remake of Resident Evil 4, as well as in driving games like Gran Turismo 7 and Dirt 5. Although it’s applied to different kinds of in-game actions, the execution is largely the same. Triggers feel tight when firing a gun – players will feel the snap of the trap and the bounce of the spring, and the controller jerks with the recoil. In racing games, the triggers feel tense, like a gas pedal being slowly pushed downward instead of slammed to the floor, and the grips rumble as the engine revs.

Other games use the DualSense’s haptic feedback rather creatively. Death Stranding employs differing vibrations that simulate the weight of the packages its protagonist carries. If he’s weighed down more on the left than on the right, steps with his left foot will land heavier on the left grip, and the left trigger will take more force to squeeze. The roguelike Returnal uses similar haptic functions to most other PS5 shooters, but it takes advantage of the pressure-sensitive triggers. Hold down halfway to aim, all the way to shoot.

Perhaps the best implementation of the DualSense’s unique features, though, is in Astro’s Playroom. Effectively a top-to-bottom tech demo for the PS5 controller, Astro’s Playroom is a delightful tour of everything the DualSense can do. Different parts of the game make the grips feel weightier, the sticks feel slipperier, and the triggers feel tighter. It also comes free and pre-installed on every PS5, with a ton of references to PlayStation history and its flagship exclusives.

Haptic feedback” may be something of a buzzword whose meaning isn’t always totally clear, but that doesn’t make it totally meaningless. Vibration technology has long since been a part of video game hardware, but not every controller that uses it is exactly the same. The DualSense’s haptic feedback is leaps and bounds ahead of anything in the previous generation, and makes it one of the best video game controllers on the market today. It’s a big part of what makes the PlayStation 5 such an advanced console, and its games so immersive.

Source: WIRED

PlayStation 5 PS5 Poster

PlayStation 5

The fifth flagship video game console from Sony Computer Entertainment, the PlayStation 5, is a part of the ninth generation of consoles. The console features full backwards compatibility with PlayStation 4 games and features a digital storefront that gives access to older generations. The console can output images at 4K resolution, with alternative options including 1440p at 120 frames per second for gameplay. This console is also known for implementing 3D audio, which allows headphones to be connected to the console for simulated spatially accurate audio.

Brand
Sony

Original Release Date
November 19, 2020

Original MSRP (USD)
$399.99 (Digital Only), $499.99 (Disc Drive)

Weight
Digital Edition now weighs 3.4 kg & base version weighs 3.9 kg

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by Xtreme HD IPTV

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