I Love Everything About The PS5 DualSense Except The Home Button

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I Love Everything About The PS5 DualSense Except The Home Button
Image: Sony

Since the PS3, DualShock controllers have had a nice, round home button nestled between the analogue sticks that you can easily press to quickly return to the console’s main menu. The PS5’s DualSense changes that. I hate it.

Instead of a small acrylic lump with a PlayStation logo on it, the DualSense’s home button is an entire miniature PlayStation logo. It’s barely raised above the surface of the plastic; you don’t immediately feel the button as your thumb grazes the lower part of the controller searching for it, and the edges poke you once you finally do. It’s camouflaged in all black, almost as if the controller’s most important button — the one that powers on the console and lets you back out of games — doesn’t want to be found, or used, or least of all enjoyed.

Look, redesigns are always a tough pill to swallow, especially when they follow on the back of fairly decent ones you’ve grown extremely accustomed to. I spent seven years with the DualShock 4 and the PS4’s menu system, neither of which I loved, but both of which have taken on a familiar warmth after thousands of hours of treating them like extensions of my own mind and body. A couple months into the PS5’s life, its weird design choices are still annoying me. I don’t see getting over things like the DualSense home button not immediately taking me to the homescreen, and the button itself posing more as a piece of iconographic flair than practical interface, anytime soon.

In addition to being uncomfortable, the logo home button is also a magnet for detritus.  (Photo: Kotaku / Ethan Gach) In addition to being uncomfortable, the logo home button is also a magnet for detritus. (Photo: Kotaku / Ethan Gach)

I’m not alone, either. Here’s how Kotaku freelance editor and Rock, Paper, Shotgun co-founder John Walker put it to me over Slack DMs:

What throws me is it looks like branding, not a means of interaction. Multiple times I’ve completely forgotten it’s a button, then assumed the reason I cannot find the menus I’m looking for is because of the complete mess of its new dashboard, rather than that I’ve forgotten a whole other subsection of its overlapping Möbius interface.

I agree this makes little sense on my part — it’s in exactly the same place as the “PS” marked round button on the previous controller, so I don’t really have a good excuse. But gosh, there’s something just so powerfully odd about its now being this peculiar relief glyph. Its semiotics scream “DON’T PRESS ME!”, before you even get to how unpleasant it is as a tactile interaction.

The button’s also a major buzzkill when it comes to DualSense customisation. Kotaku senior reporter Mike Fahey recently had controller modder Colerware send him a DualSense decked out in pink and black. The thing looks sharp as hell, and speaks to the flexibility when it comes to personalizing your PS5 controller — except for the home button. “The only downside of customising the DualSense controller is you can’t really do much with that damn PlayStation logo button,” he wrote. “No matter what colour you paint it, it’s still what it is.”

The PS5’s DualSense Is The Perfect Canvas

One of my first thoughts upon seeing the futuristic armoured look of the PlayStation 5’s Dualsense controller was, “Man, I bet that’s going to look awesome with a custom paint job.” Indulging my pink and black obsession, the painting pros at Colorware have confirmed my hypothesis.

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The rest of the controller is excellent. The triggers are so ergonomical I sometimes forget that I’m pulling them, except when the haptic feedback is engaged and I can feel the tension growing as I pull back a bow in Astro’s Playroom. The grip feels better than the DualShock 3 or 4 ever did. The lightbar being shrunk is a power-saving relief. The analogue sticks feel more substantial, though time will tell if they truly hold up better than their chintzy predecessors.

In so many ways the DualSense is a monumental step up from last generation. Too bad the button I touch first every time I turn on my machine isn’t one of them. Maybe Sony will fix it with a DualSense Pro. 

Comments

  • I get that change can be difficult and that the home button functions a little differently than the PS4 (press for quick menu, hold for home) but y’all acting like you’ve never used a PS controller before.
    I too have had to adjust to the minor change from two generations of muscle memory but finding and using the home button isn’t one of of those changes.
    I also freaking love that if I swap to watching TV, simply grabbing the controller and hitting the home button flicks the TV back to the game.

    If there’s anything to criticise the dualsense about its that some folks (like myself) seem to have a stick drift problem under certain conditions and while it appears to be software based (thank fuck) it’s bloody annoying and there’s no news of a fix so far.
    (Hoping the next update fixes it)

  • I will admit that, before I had one in my hands, I didn’t know the PS logo on the Dualsense was a button.

    Honestly, though, I’m finding the bigger issue is how much easier it is to accidentally click the touchpad when going to press the square button.

  • I am pretty much loving the whole thing, except how some game devs support it… EG in Fentxkick Rising the way it tensions the bow does not feel natural as it does in Astro, it feels far more mechanical and jarring. Also when you using that far sight thing that controller rattles and clicks, as opposed to rumbling. Once again it feels mechanical and makes the controller feel like a cheap toy. So far (a single Standing Stone aside in Valhalla and a problem in the first week of Cold War) it is the only game that seems to have not understood how to program it.

    Shame it is the only weakness I see in it and that game. I guess thats a win.

    • Pretty sure you can turn the adaptive triggers off in the settings somewhere?
      I know that isn’t fixing it, in that now there’s nothing at all beyond base trigger tension… but at least it would get rid of the feeling you described that you don’t enjoy.

    • Yeah, people say that occasionally in the comments and I am always like “wtf are they talking about”
      Then I realise it must be because I am using an adblocker.
      Try using an adblocker.
      I had completely forgotten there were ever videos until you mentioned it.

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