(Pocket-lint) – Every console generation, whether it be PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo, we always opt for a red controller at some point. We have a cupboard full of them. So we were particularly thrilled that Sony was following Microsoft in offering a red version of its own wireless controller.
However, having now seen one in the flesh – held it even – we have to say that it’s not what you’d call a typical red. In fact, it could be argued that it’s not really red at all.
Before we jump to that though, it’s great that there are now new colour options for the PS5 DualSense. A Midnight Black model is superb for those who are traditionalists – with DualShocks being black by default since the PlayStation 2.
Paint it black
Those who were taken aback by the contrasting white gamepad this generation might find there is something more comforting by the new black variant.
It’s actually two different shades of black, when you look up close. The body housing the thumbsticks is a little darker and identical to the same section on the other colourways. The same is true for the triggers.
The exterior plastic is a touch muted in comparison. It also has a more grippy, matte feel – like the other models – and we have to say is rather robust. We weren’t planning on doing a drop test, but did so by accident anyway, from a kitchen table to a hard tiled floor.
There wasn’t even a scratch, which is pretty decent and, dare we say it, necessary – especially during frustrating bouts of Warzone.
When connected to your PS5, the light bar around the touch panel shines in the colour determined by the game or experience – which offsets the black surround nicely. Other than that, it’s a DualSense in every other way, which we’ll get to.
Pretty in pink
Now back onto the Cosmic Red DualSense.
Yes, in a certain light it looks red-ish. And yes, it is meant to represent the red hues of the cosmos rather than the strip of Liverpool FC. But you can’t escape the fact that its far more pink than red. A dark, bold pink, but pink nonetheless.
That’s not to say it’s ugly – it certainly isn’t. We actually like the alternative theme. It just doesn’t quite go with the rest of the shock red controllers we own.
There’ll definitely be a market for it though, as it’s an interesting offset to the white controller and looks great nesting on a TV stand alongside the stark sides of the PlayStation 5 itself.
DualSense and Sensibility
As for the fuctionality of each controller, they work exactly the same as the white version included with the console.
That means they both feature haptic feedback – small developer adjustable rumblings that can help you feel more immersed in a game. They also have adaptive triggers – which feature force feedback that can used dynamically in game to enable greater force for firing a gun, for example, or to provide different weapon firing states the harder you press.
There is a touchpanel at the top of each controller, plus an in-built microphone and speaker. You can also plug headphones into a 3.5mm port.
We haven’t used either enough to give you an indication of battery life, but cannot believe it’d be any different to the original shipped controller.
For us, that ran around 12-15 hours depending on the game. For FIFA 21, which uses the adaptive triggers a lot, it was the lower end of the scale and we found ourselves recharging the controller often, mainly overnight.
Also, we found that while the thumbsticks start our reasonably stiff, they loosen up dramatically over time – almost too much so. We can’t yet say whether the Cosmic Red or Midnight Black controllers will act the same.
To be completely honest, as these controllers are identical in every way to the white version that comes with the PS5, there’s not really a lot to say about them.
They are clearly visibly different, but without going too crazy.
The Midnight Black DualSense will certainly appeal to PlayStation purists. However, it is a little bland and, let’s face it, black PlayStation controllers have been mandatory in the past.
The Cosmic Red variant is certainly different – although you shouldn’t really just go on the name alone. It’s actually really nice, but red it ain’t.
So that leaves the original white DualSense controller, which is still our favourite. It’s clean, offers a great contrast betweem the white and black, and suits our PS5.
It’s nice to have some choice now though.
Writing by Rik Henderson.