Everyone uses controllers differently
After playing with some controllers with customisable buttons on the back, I was excited to see Sony’s announcement of the DualSense Edge. After falling in love with the DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment and having the functionality quickly removed as I moved to PS5, it was a bit of a blow.
Pro or Elite Controllers are strange creatures in many ways. They are marketed as the controller needed to push you to the next level of gaming, and in many ways accomplish this as advertised. Like any marketing, the key to understanding if you need (vs want) a product like this all boils down to personal definition. What is the ‘next level of gaming’ for you?
Why competitive players use customisable controllers
When you hear about competitive players using Elite or Pro controllers, it’s because they don’t have time to take their thumbs off the thumbstick to press a controller button. Being able to press the A B X Y or Square, Cross, Circle Triangle without moving your hands can be the difference between the top 10 and a chicken dinner.
I have never really bothered with this. I generally don’t play multiplayer games, let alone have the skills to justify the cost for this ‘competitive edge’. I can see how it would be beneficial for sure, but it’s not a feature that appeals to me personally.
Why I use ‘Pro’ Controllers like DualSense Edge
I have trouble with my hands. It’s nothing that affects my life on a day-to-day basis, but fine control is sometimes a little bit of a challenge. With modern controllers, the only time this is an issue is when using the L3 and R3 buttons. Sometimes I press randomly, and sometimes it doesn’t matter how often I send the signal to my hands to press the stick nothing happens. For some games, this can be very frustrating!
So the idea of being able to use the back buttons for L3 and R3 helps with this greatly. It’s not always perfect, as I still accidentally click on the sticks from time to time, but being able to do it when I want with much greater accuracy is a boon. The announcement of an option for PlayStation 5 in the DualSense Edge was a welcome announcement for me.
And why are we talking about all this instead of the DualSense Edge?
It’s important to know that controllers are personal choices, like cars. While multiple people might drive a hatchback, many do so for very different reasons. As I am describing my experience with the DualSense Edge, it’s important to understand my angle on why I think the controller is worthwhile.
It shows my bias, which may or may not justify why my opinion on a feature may be different to yours. So now all that’s out of the way, let’s look at the DualSense Edge!
Obvious Cons Up Front
The first thing that will give people pause is the price. This is not a necessary item. You need to be able to justify the cost. This is partly what I mean by needing the DualSense Edge – it’s a luxury item or a valuable tool. It’s not a must-have controller. Hopefully talking about my experiences and advantages can help you weigh the benefits vs the cost.
The second is battery life. The batter is 2/3 the size of the DualSense controller, so it’s at best 2/3 the play time before needing a charge. Super competitive players will play with the USB cable attached to the console for the lowest possible latency. The included USB latch is a nice addition for this audience, as you can’t inadvertently pull the cable from the controller.
For everyone else though, if you can’t live with a 2-hour play session in a haptics-heavy game draining the battery as fast as possible, this is something you will have to consider and could be seen as a deal-breaker.
DualSense Edge customisability – impressive, but not quite enough for some
The DualSense Edge comes with a variety of thumbsticks and back paddles, letting you set up the controller physically as you see fit. Everything comes together with a satisfactory click or pull of a magnet. I prefer the half-moon back buttons, but I am still playing with the thumbsticks. All I can say is it feels great in the hand, even with a bit of extra weight compared to the DualSense.
Software-wise, there is a lot of tweaking you can do. You can have three custom profiles saved to the DualSense Edge, assigned via the Function key and one of the controller buttons. Function and Triangle are reserved for the default profile, and a list comes up on the screen to help you remember what was where.
Thanks to the position, it’s also hard to mishit these Function buttons, which is also nice. A couple of times with the Fusion controller, I have managed to accidentally assign buttons on the fly – not a great way to play!
You can set the sensitivity of the thumbsticks as well as adjust dead zones (the initial area of stick movement that is ignored). This all looks very impressive, but I honestly haven’t played with any of it. I intend to play with the dead zones at one point, but I will talk about that later. This is where you will need to spend a bit of time yourself, and I can see some people setting up different profiles for FPS, Driving and other games on the fly.
One thing I love is that I was able to disable the stick activating L3 and R3. No more accidental clicks period! I have been playing Dead Space 2023, and while it took me an hour to get used to not clicking the stick (muscle memory is still a learning curve), the experience has been a dream since.
The variable trigger distance is ok to me. It’s not bad and has a definite effect on play, but it’s also not something I think I will use a lot. This is a time-will-tell feature. I lowered the trigger distance for Dead Space, but I would want the full motion range for Burnout for example.
You also can’t use this function for a lot of adaptive trigger games, as they are made for the DualSense full range of motion. Another example of something you can choose what you like, but that choice won’t fit every situation.
Where I think the DualSense Edge loses out is in the controller ‘only’ having two back buttons. Depending on what you are looking for, this may not be enough. For me, where I only want to replace L3 and R3, this is fine.
Some players may want to map all of the symbol buttons to the back of the controller, meaning they don’t have to move their hand location ever. This isn’t an option with the DualSense Edge, and I don’t know how many people this could be an issue for.
Stick Drift is gone! From a certain point of view…
Another large selling feature of the DualSense Edge is you don’t have to replace the entire controller if you encounter stick drift. You can buy a new Stick Module and replace the drift-affected controls. It’s a nice idea to have a spare on hand and instantly change the control. Then hopefully you can send the module off for repair and recycle the unit.
At AU$35 a module though, replacement sticks are a fair percentage of a new DualSense controller. You will generally only need one now and then though, so it’s a small easily budgeted cost compared to a whole controller. Other parts will still eventually wear, such as buttons, triggers or the battery. The thumbstick is by far the first part to wear enough to detract from gameplay though. I am confident in my ability to change these parts though, but not everyone can do this themselves.
Here is where I am gambling on a future feature, and as such I don’t recommend you invest in a DualSense Edge controller now banking on this happening. Gulikit has made a name for itself by making controllers that feature Hall Effect sensors. This translates as thumbsticks and triggers that use magnets instead of physical contact to measure movement, lasting substantially longer and with higher accuracy over time.
Gulikit have said they will make Hall Effect stick replacements for the DualSense Edge. When is up in the air, and there is the possible action from Sony to potentially block the spare parts from being used. I hope this happens though, as this means the DualSense Edge will be my last controller for the life of the PlayStation 5!
How has the DualSense Edge been to play on?
About 12 hours in, playing on the DualSense Edge has been great. I won’t turn my nose up at a standard controller in the future, but I won’t pick up my standard controller as a first choice either. After a couple of hours and a few quick tweaks trying out some hardware combinations, the DualSense Edge has been great on my hands.
When I have finished with Dead Space, I can’t wait to jump into Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order finally. I did give it a quick play when I picked up the DualSense Edge, and it felt fine. I hadn’t started tweaking the controls and I was using the paddles, so it was an early attempt. It was enough to know I didn’t like the paddles, which was useful though!
Being able to run and lock targets on command will be a game-changer for me. It wasn’t impossible before – I managed to Platinum God of War – Ragnarok and Elden Ring last year for example. It removes a barrier of frustration though, which helps justify the cost of the controller to me.
Should you buy a DualSense Edge?
That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Having a spare thumbstick if drift happens for an instant swap out is great. Control customisation is attractive, but if the choices on offer work for you or not is hard to say. If you play for long sessions, having the USB cable attached may or may not be worth the hassle to you.
For me, removing the frustration of the thumbstick controls and being able to save most of the controller rather than buying new ones is worth it. I have already spent close to AU$300 on controllers since buying the PS5 at launch, so the chance of the DualSense Edge being my ‘last’ controller is the icing on the cake.
For you? Hopefully, you can look at my thoughts here, and they will help you weigh up other reviews to make the decision for yourself. It’s all about finding someone that has the same/similar angle to using the controller as you, and with any luck, this has helped.
So I am sorry that I can’t say whether you definitely need a DualSense Edge or not, but hopefully you have some more information to help you decide.
A quick note about Hall Effect joysticks – they aren’t the final solution!
I have mentioned that I am hoping to upgrade the DualSense Edge to Hall Effect sticks, as well as my Steam Deck and Switch. It might look like I am going all in, and to a degree I am. Gulikit has made repairing specific controllers easy, and the life expectancy of Hall Effect vs ‘normal’ sticks is virtually the life of the console. It’s not the ultimate easy answer though.
While I like the Gulikit controls including my KingKong2 Pro controller, they can be a lot of work initially. A quality controller needs to be calibrated, and I had to calibrate my Gulikit controller myself out of the box.
I expect to have to do the same for my replacement components (more understandable – part of the repair process). I also have to take controllers/systems apart to use the replacement controllers – not something everyone is comfortable with.
I am not saying this to scare people off. I am just trying to highlight that quality supplies matter, and some products require more work than others.
If you see Hall Effect controls, don’t assume great joysticks and a top experience. The tech lasting longer due to no contact is real, but that just gives other components more time to fail. Being a heavy gamer and concerned about stick drift is understandable, but don’t look at Hall Effect as a magic answer – you can get caught out pretty easily, and potentially for a much worse experience than the ‘standard’ controllers.
Until next time!JohnHQLD