Sony's hoping their next-gen VR system for the PS5 will blow players away, and to heighten the experience, they've designed an entirely new set of controllers meant to provide better control and a stronger sensation of immersion. Because these are meant to be grasped with just one hand, the shape is unlike anything you've seen before in a game controller; the structure flows around the backs of your hands, presumably to provide a balanced feel (when rotating your wrists, for instance).
"The first thing you'll notice with our next-gen VR controller is the unique design, which takes on an "orb" shape that allows you to hold the controller naturally, while playing with a high degree of freedom. There are no constraints with how you're moving your hands, providing developers with the ability to create unique gameplay experiences.
"We also designed the new controller with great ergonomics in mind, so it's well-balanced and comfortable to hold in each of your hands. We applied learnings from testing users with a range of hand sizes, as well as the decades of insights from controllers across all PlayStation platforms. The result is an iconic design that will change how VR games are played."
As for the actual controls, they've added a mix of legacy and new features:
- Adaptive triggers: Each VR controller (Left and Right) includes an adaptive trigger button that adds palpable tension when pressed, similar to what's found in the DualSense controller. If you've played a PS5 game, you'll be familiar with the tension in the L2 or R2 buttons when you press them, such as when you're drawing your bow to fire an arrow. When you take that kind of mechanic and apply it to VR, the experience is amplified to the next level.
- Haptic feedback: The new controller will have haptic feedback optimized for its form factor, making every sensation in the game world more impactful, textured and nuanced. When you're traversing through rocky desert or trading blows in melee combat, you'll feel the difference, magnifying the extraordinary visual and audio experience that's so central to VR.
- Finger touch detection: The controller can detect your fingers without any pressing in the areas where you place your thumb, index, or middle fingers. This enables you to make more natural gestures with your hands during gameplay.
- Action buttons / analog sticks: The Left controller contains one analog stick, the triangle and square buttons, a "grip" button (L1), trigger button (L2) and Create button. The Right controller contains one analog stick, the cross and circle buttons, a "grip" button (R1), trigger button (R2) and Options button. The "grip" button can be used to pick up in-game objects, as one example.
The controllers are tracked in space by Sony's new VR headset--which they have yet to unveil. Am super curious as to what that will look and feel like, as that's arguably the most crucial piece of kit. Alas, there's no word on when the headset will be unveiled.