If you’re serious about gaming, then you’re going to want a serious game controller in hand. For years, that meant devoutly sticking to the official gamepad, and handing cheaper third party controllers to guests and younger siblings, but the last decade has seen pro controllers come to the fore, adding extra buttons and advanced features with esports and competitive gamers in mind. Now Sony is stepping into this realm with the DualSense Edge PS5 pro controller.
Opening up the DualSense Edge box, the first thing you’ll find is the stylish case that houses the controller itself and all of the included attachments, with extra domed stick tops, back buttons and a nice long USB cable with an optional locking mechanism. It’s a straightforward, but comprehensive package.
On the whole, the DualSense Edge feels and performs marvellously well. It’s built on the exact same shape as the DualSense, so there’s none of the unsettling “handfeel” that I sometimes find with third party pro controllers, but the materials have been tweaked and refined, with a softer rubberised plastic on the handgrip underside, more texture on the triggers, and a sharper looking touchpad. There’s also all of the core features of Sony’s latest controller, from native wireless with the same low latency Bluetooth connection, to the same haptic motors and adaptive triggers. It means that this can do both casual gaming where you want the full experience and competitive gaming where you turn off all the distractions.
Of course, it’s meant to give you an edge in games, so it’s also been kitted out with the things that are so common in pro controllers, aiming to let you shave off milliseconds from your reaction times in high pressure situations. Back buttons, trigger stops, custom profiles, it’s all here in the DualSense Edge, with a little extra ingenuity thrown in alongside.
The first time you connect it up to your PS5, you’re invited to a tour of the controller’s features, detailing what it offers and then getting you to try and create a custom profile. Most pro controllers either have basic customisation features built into the controller itself or rely on smartphone and PC apps to tweak settings, but the DualSense Edge is built right into the PS5 system software.
Making a profile is very straightforward, giving you the ability to customise button assignments, tweak stick sensitivity and deadzones, trigger deadzones and how much vibration and the adaptive trigger effect you want. There’s plenty of little wrinkles to explore here, but a key one will be the stick sensitivity curve, which has five preset sensitivity curves – Quick, Precise, Steady, Digital, Dynamic – making different parts of the stick travel more or less sensitive, tweaking responsiveness for shooters, action games, fighting games and others. If you’re switching from sniper or shotgun room clearing in an FPS, you might find benefit from multiple profiles.
Switching profiles is right under your thumbs. Just push either of the Fn (function) buttons that have been added below the analogue sticks to bring up a little pop up menu – they both work identically, so press either – and then select from one of four profiles you’ve assigned in combination with the face buttons. You can also adjust audio volume and chat mix on the fly with Fn and D-Pad buttons.
If sensitivity curves and deadzones woosh right over your head, the more obvious advantages will be with the hardware itself. Trigger stops allow for regular, medium and short, reducing the travel so it can almost be a button, shaving off that fraction of a second for pulling the trigger in a shooter.
Then there’s the back buttons for your middle or ring finger to latch onto. There’s just two back buttons on the Edge, as opposed to the four often found on many other pro controllers, with a pair of half circle nubbins and a pair of small flappy paddles included included in the case. They slot into the rear of the controller magnetically, and both options feels nice, though I found myself leaning toward the nubbins.
These don’t have a fixed function – in fact, they have no function at all by default – and their sole purpose is to reproduce another standard PS5 button press, as opposed to any kind of button combo macros. The questions is, what do you want them to do?
My default has been to set them to replace L3 and R3 stick clicks, used for sprint and melee respectively in most shooters like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and which can leave sticks prone to misclicking in pressure situations as the plastic wears down and loosens – there’s nothing worse than a random melee in a split-second gunfight. Whether it’s Ratchet & Clank or Elden Ring, mapping dodge to the back buttons feels natural in action games. Racing games, though? For whatever reason I struggled to adjust to gear shifts on the rear buttons, and a better fit for GT7 was for flipping between the in-race car settings and radar, keeping my left thumb on the steering and right for gears.
We’ve seen it in other controllers, but one of the most reassuring features for the controller’s longevity is the ability to swap out analogue stick modules for new ones, popping off the shiny front panel and then swapping out a stick with the Fn button attached like it’s a printer ink cartridge. It’s a feature that feels like a knee jerk reaction to all the complaints of controllers’ stick drift in the last five years, and when the controller costs almost half as much as a PS5 itself, it’s good to have a drop in fix. On the other hand, it’s not really getting to the root of why sticks can deteriorate over time – why still use pentiometers when magnetic Hall effect sticks are far less prone to dust and gunk affecting them over time? Why use plastic for the sticks, when metal won’t wear away anywhere near as quickly? Third parties like GuliKit and 8BitDo can do these things, so why not Sony?
The biggest criticism of the DualSense was that the battery life was… not good. The DualSense Edge does nothing to combat that, with the low battery warning after 5.5 hours and the controller switching off after 6.5 hours of play. In fairness, this was pushing the controller pretty hard, leaning on trigger effect heavy games like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, racing in GT7 and multiplayer in Overwatch 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Throughout, I was piping audio through to wired headphones. Reducing use of haptic feedback and having separate wireless headphones would help to lengthen game time here, but the DualSense Edge comes with a bundled 2.8m USB cable for a reason – the locking mechanism will help keep the cable secured, but it’s a far cry short of the metal brackets I’ve seen at game events.
And so we come to the price. At $200 / £210, the DualSense Edge is just outright expensive. Yes, there’s the bundled case and accessories, yes, there’s inflation, and yes, niche products manufactured in smaller numbers will generally cost more, but that’s still 3.5 times a regular DualSense and it’s not far off half the price of a PS5 in the first place.
At the same time, it’s also fair to note this is now the going rate for PS5 pro controllers. SCUF’s DualSense derived Reflex starts at £200 before accessories and is £240 once customised and Razer’s Wolverine V2 Pro is £250! It’s not just Sony, but this entire category of peripheral of PS5 is now significantly less affordable, when feature-filled Xbox and PS4 controllers are still typically closer to £150 – Sony’s decision to block PS4 controllers from playing PS5 games is as unjustifiable now as it was in 2020.
Note: Sony supplied us with a pre-release DualSense Edge for the purpose of review.