PlayStation 5 Launching Holiday 2020, Controler To Feature Haptic Feedback

Now here’s a term I haven’t heard bandied about lately: haptics. Back in the days before VR was really a thing, people talked about haptics like it was the future of gaming. In layman’s terms, haptics means communication via touch. In regards to video games, it’s how the game physically communicates the on-screen action to the players. Previously, this was done almost entirely through rumble features on controllers. A number of experimental devices have always existed to increase immersion (vests that indicated bodily damage, OmniPad movement systems), but these rarely see any representation outside of tradeshows. Haptics conversation made a bit of a resurgence during the VR craze, but no solutions were ever widely adopted.

So when the PlayStation 5 announcement came about, I was surprised to see the main talking point being a new haptics controller. I’m aware they’re likely focusing on this because they can’t talk about any games yet, but I’m still excited. To get some of the other details out of the way, yes we are getting a PS5. This should surprise no one. It was announced back in April, and shouldn’t have been a surprise then either. I imagine it will be even shinier with even better graphics. It’s coming next year, so expect more news soon.

So, on to what they did tell us about the haptics. From the official PlayStation blog:

The “more” refers to something I’m quite excited about – a preview of the new controller that will ship with PlayStation 5. One of our goals with the next generation is to deepen the feeling of immersion when you play games, and we had the opportunity with our new controller to reimagine how the sense of touch can add to that immersion.

To that end, there are two key innovations with the PlayStation 5’s new controller. First, we’re adopting haptic feedback to replace the “rumble” technology found in controllers since the 5th generation of consoles. With haptics, you truly feel a broader range of feedback, so crashing into a wall in a race car feels much different than making a tackle on the football field. You can even get a sense for a variety of textures when running through fields of grass or plodding through mud.

The second innovation is something we call adaptive triggers, which have been incorporated into the trigger buttons (L2/R2). Developers can program the resistance of the triggers so that you feel the tactile sensation of drawing a bow and arrow or accelerating an off-road vehicle through rocky terrain. In combination with the haptics, this can produce a powerful experience that better simulates various actions. Game creators have started to receive early versions of the new controller, and we can’t wait to see where their imagination goes with these new features at their disposal.

So with each new console comes new opportunities to make pointless additions and speculations on future-tech. Sometimes this is inobtrusive. Remember, the PS4 controller has six-axis technology that allows you to steer dragons or something. Other times, it’s the Kinect. Personally, I love the idea. I’m interested to see how developers will integrate this subtle design option into their games. But what do you guys think? Excited for haptic controllers? Let me know!

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