The performance, gameplay, graphics and sound of games are one thing. The actual experience of playing them is quite another. Short of the highest-end VR systems, it’s not like you’re playing the game as if you’re in it, and even then it’s equally unlikely you’ll feel like you are. Instead, if you aren’t in VR where you’re using proprietary controllers, you’ll want the best possible peripherals you can get. What’s more, there’s no question your experience will mirror the quality of your controller.
That in mind, let’s check out the DualSense Edge Wireless Controller, a premium PlayStation 5 controller from Sony that attempts to solve problems that were barely problems in the first place, while giving a titular ‘edge’ to those hoping to get the most from their next-gen console (and maybe PC) gaming.
The DualSense Edge represents a new entry in a long-running tradition of premium game controllers. Remember back in the day when you were a kid? Life was good, responsibilities were few, and first-party controllers were typically your best choice if you wanted a solid gaming experience. Imagine: the best controller you could get for your console was often the one it came with! If you ever got a second controller, it was typically another first-party controller or a godawful third-party abomination like something from Mad Catz (a company who, for the record, later redeemed themselves with pretty decent controllers and a rock-solid line of gaming mice).
Those days are no more. Indeed, we had a dark age for a while where you were really rolling the dice as to whether or not a given controller would give you an awful experience. If you’ve never played something on a DS Lite, you can count yourself lucky. Those of us who have been there, well…we remember the nightmare of the D-Pad From Hell. It’s probably possible to press diagonals on a DS Lite D-Pad. Likewise, the Xbox 360’s D-pad, the Nintendo Switch’s stick drift and the many myriad issues that can crop up with the PS5’s DualSense controller all point to the necessity of something new. Something nice. Something…pricey.
That’s where premium controllers step in. The first I remember really taking off was the Xbox Elite Controller, which was a fantastic bit of engineering. My own Elite is still a pretty solid choice to this day. There were third-party options as well over the years, like the Astro C40 TR, which was nice while it lasted, but mine has died over the years and can’t be revived. Indeed, while the price is certainly premium on these peripherals, the quality tends to vary. Case in point: the Xbox Elite 2, which is a lovely followup to the original Elite…when it works. I’ve gone through six of these or so via Microsoft’s RMA process and can speak to their fantastic performance except when there’s a button that sticks, doesn’t respond, or simply falls off the device.
That leads us, then, to the latest premium controller: Sony’s PlayStation DualSense Edge. It’s a caviar take on the already-excellent DualSense controller, the PS5’s in-box device that’s become known for its haptic feedback and, apparently, tendency toward drifting. I’ve got three and haven’t run into that myself, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Anyway, the DualSense Edge, which will run you a cool $200, is a high-end piece of work that asks a lot and promises a lot. But how is it, though?
Well, let’s go ahead and put the bottom line up front: at least so far, a week into owning the device, it’s been absolutely fantastic. It’s a top-of-the-line controller that’s so impressive that it makes it more fun to play games because of how much more effectively you’re interacting with them. It’s the promise of the premium controller fulfilled, and it’s the sort of thing I wish we’d had for years. Maybe one day we’ll start releasing consoles with controllers as nice as the DualSense Edge, but I doubt it. I kind of want another just so I can use it on my gaming PC.
But how do I really feel about it? Let’s take a look at what you’ll get for your bucks. The DualSense Edge includes all the fancy features you’ve come to expect from the DualSense, including the renowned haptic feedback that makes the PS5 the fantastic gaming machine that it is. You’re also getting top-end build quality, additional paddle buttons, customizable button mapping and, perhaps most importantly, swappable analog stick modules.
That last one might be the most important change to the premium controller paradigm. With a little tweaking here and there, it’s actually possible to remove the DualSense Edge’s analog sticks and replace them with new sticks sold by Sony. Stick drift becoming an issue? Analog sticks wearing down? Just feel like having some spares? The DualSense Edge can make that work. In a world where your only recourse when a controller isn’t working tends to be sending it in for RMA, assuming you aren’t capable of doing the repairs yourself, this is a fantastic update that hopefully heralds the next evolution of controller technology.
A controller is important, y’see – it’s the tool you use when crafting, the weapon you use when fighting, the way you interact with game worlds writ large, and having a controller that’s feature-packed, reliable and comfortable enough to use for years ought to be the goal. Being able to replace a critical part of the DualSense Edge should anything go wrong is a huge step in the right direction.
Outside of this, the DualSense Edge has a lot to offer. The build quality is absolutely amazing, and that’s considering how the base DualSense is already a fantastic lump of plastic in its own right. There’s texturing on the triggers and grips that feels absolutely divine, and the ability to add either wing-style back paddles a la the Xbox Elite controllers or smaller nub-style buttons is amazing. The sole complaint I might have is that the travel time on the face buttons compared to the base model is ever-so-slightly noticeable, but that doesn’t mean they won’t respond exactly when you’d like them to do so. Heck, it’s even got a couple of interchangeable stick-toppers if swapping those out interests you.
What’s more, the ability to map and remap any button you’d like, up to and including the face buttons themselves, is a much-welcomed addition. The DualSense Edge can save up to three profiles on the controller itself, allowing you to take your baby to friends’ houses, events and more. It’s a boon for typical gamers and a godsend for fighting game players, plus you can do it right in the PS5’s system menu.
There’s even more than that, if you can believe it. Not only does this come with a fancy, braided, ridiculously long USB-C cable for charging purposes, it’s also got a little plastic locking mechanism that essentially turns the device into a wired controller. Want to get the absolute maximum out of this controller whether you’re hugging your screen like a beloved concubine or you’re far away like a despised ex-lover? Yeah, the DualSense Edge will do that.
To touch on a common complaint leading Redditors to triumphantly announce they’ve cancelled their pre-orders in droves: yes, this controller’s battery life is lower. Marathon game sessions of over eight hours might result in the DualSense Edge dying off like the dinosaurs, but there are numerous ways of solving this. USB connection, battery packs typically used for cell phones and more are bound to ensure that your DualSense Edge lasts for more than the cramp-inducing sessions that will lead you to be sitting on your foul-smelling rear end at a time. It’s not as much of an issue as it’s made out to be, and to Sony’s credit, they were pretty up front about this from the start.
Conclusion: A True Edge
Is the DualSense Edge Wireless Controller expensive? Sure! You’re paying a sizable portion of your original console purchase for a controller that, if we’re being honest, doesn’t do much more than the stock DualSense controller does. The difference is that it does almost everything better, with loads of game-enhancing features that make your PlayStation 5 playtime feel more like the premium experience you knew it could be. Because of this the PS5 DualSense Edge is perhaps the best gamepad I’ve ever used, and I’ve used quite a few. Check it out if you can. You’ll probably love it.