Like the Sony DualShock 4 before it, the Sony DualSense immediately bumps up against a major issue when it comes to use on a (Windows) PC, which is that Sony hasn’t produced official Windows drivers to give the controller full native support. The controller will work if you just plug it straight into your PC, but instead of providing support for the modern XInput system used in modern games, it only offers DirectInput support, as used in older games. Plenty of games will still support it but many others won’t.
Thankfully, there are two workarounds. Firstly, you could only play games on Steam. Thanks to Valve adding in native XInput emulation, any games it hosts will work with controllers that still use the DirectInput system, such as the DualSense.
The second workaround is to use emulation software such as DS4windows to convert the DirectInput signals to XInput. Just load the software, run it in the background and it will provide full support for all Windows activities, even enabling you to use the DualSense’s touchpad as a normal laptop touchpad, so you don’t need a separate mouse in a living room PC setup.
There’s one final caveat to using this controller on a PC, which is that even with full emulation, the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers (the key additions of this controller over the DualShock 4) only work when connected via a cable and not via Bluetooth. Plus, they only work in a handful of games.
When they do work, though, they really do elevate this controller above any other. Each step your character takes in Deathloop, for instance, is accompanied by a gentle haptic buzz that changes with the terrain or your pace. It genuinely adds an extra level of immersion. Meanwhile, the changing resistance of the triggers revolutionizes the feel of accelerating and particularly braking in racing games.
Elsewhere, the evolution of the DualShock controller design, from a rather small, uncomfortable shape to a fuller, rounded design akin to that of the Xbox controller continues with the DualSense 5. The sides have filled out and are more rounded compared to the DualShock 4, the grips taper to a finer point at the back and the top section with the touchpad has grown too. It makes for a supremely comfortable controller that surpasses even the latest Xbox controller for general comfort and versatility of grip.
Build quality is also excellent, with an attractive smooth plastic on the top surface and a lightly speckled pattern on the underside for better grip. The controls all feel sturdy and precise too. You don’t get the absolute crispness of button response you get on premium gamepads but they’re distinct enough to provide good feedback.
Up front is a socket for your headphones, which is a really useful addition for sofa gaming with your PS4 but this doesn’t work on PCs, sadly. An inbuilt speaker can also take over voiceover duties, though, providing a further sense of immersion.
An inbuilt battery means the DualShock 4 is easier to charge than an Xbox controller too, but changing the battery when it no long takes charge is a pain. The new Xbox controller’s option of AAs or a rechargeable unit is more versatile.
Sony DualSense pros and cons
- Fantastic haptic feedback and adaptive triggers
- Integrated touchpad
- Great build quality and comfort
- Requires third-party software to work on Windows
- No option to swap the battery
- Headphone socket doesn’t work on PC
Sony DualSense specs
The Sony DualSense specs list is:
|Connections||USB Type-C and Bluetooth|
|Button layout||Sony DualShock/DualSense style|
|Extras||Touchpad, adaptive triggers, inbuilt speaker|
|Battery||Inbuilt rechargeable, up to 12 hours per charge|
Sony DualSense price
The Sony DualSense price is $69 (£57) making it decent value considering its build quality and extra haptics and touchpad.
Price: Expect to pay $69 (£57).
Sony DualSense review conclusion
The fantastic adaptive triggers and haptic feedback really elevate the DualSense above most other controllers for sheer gaming immersion. Add in the fantastic comfort levels, superbly accurate controls, and a design that works well with a variety of grip styles and you have a truly fantastic controller. You have to jump through hoops to make it work properly on your PC but the results are worth the effort.
For our pick of the best game controllers, check out our best PC controllers guide.
Feature-rich, stylish, comfortable, precise and decent value. It’s a pain to get working on a PC, but it’s worth the effort.