Before I played PS5, Sony’s promotional strategy once confused me.
For a long time, the public content of this new host was limited to its technologically-looking handle.
▲ The handle of the PS4 era. Picture from: Firstpost
This seems to have become Sony’s "convention" for new consoles. For the PS4 that year, Sony held a press conference without announcing the appearance of the console, which whipped up its appetite. In the end, it spent a long time introducing the touchpad of the new controller and the flashing light strip.
▲ Sony's newly designed "DualSense" handle for PS5
When it came to PS5, Sony went through the same process again. The appearance of the handle was disclosed first, and after two months, it was the turn of the mainframe to manifest itself. It felt like I was extremely confident in my own handle design.
Objectively speaking, this confidence is not without reason. When the PS5 was officially launched in November, almost every media or game player who tried the PS5 at home and abroad appreciated the handle.
Practice is indeed the only criterion for testing truth. After experiencing the PS5 in person, we have to admit that the PS5 controller is indeed the part of this console that makes people feel the charm of the "next generation".
But it is not easy to convey this feeling. Think about the situation where you are wearing a VR helmet and shouting "So cool!" A friend who can't see the screen around you will probably only show a foolish look.
The same is true for the PS5 controller. Compared to just looking at the vocabulary description or video demonstration, it is better to try it yourself.
Improve the depth of interaction
PS5 comes with a game called "Astro's Playroom", which is basically one of the games that best reflects the characteristics of the PS5 controller. Because all the levels and gameplay designs in the game are trying to connect with the functions of the new handle.
For example, vibration. The handle vibration we experienced in the past was probably a simple "shake", with no severity or hierarchy. The vibration feedback in any scene is exactly the same.
However, on the PS5 controller, the vibration feedback transmitted to the palm has more various changes, which is also extremely significant for the enhancement of the game's sense of substitution.
Taking the game experience of "Astro's Playroom", when you operate the robot to walk across the beach, the handle will send a soft feeling of sand; when you strike with a fist, the vibration is short and powerful. ; If you pull a rope and jump into the water, the vibration will show the tension of the rope from loose to tight, and the buoyancy on the water surface.
With such a wealth of tactile feedback, I will try various interactive actions and interactions with the scene during the game process to see what kind of feedback the handle can show.
▲ The PS5 handle uses two brand new linear motors to replace the rotor motors in the previous PS4 handle. The volume is larger, and the vibration that can be simulated is more delicate. Picture from: TronicsFix
A similar design is also reminiscent of another game console: the Joy-Con handle for the Switch is also known for its rich and delicate vibration feedback.
In fact, the two companies have adopted the tactile feedback technology provided by Immersion, but because the PS5 handle is larger and has more contact surfaces with the palm, the feeling of shock transmitted to the palm will be more substantial.
▲ The tactile feedback technology used by the PS5 controller comes from Immersion, which also applies the technology to the Joy-Con controller of Nintendo Switch
Another great charm of the PS5 handle is the adaptive trigger button. A simple explanation is to add damping and elasticity to the two trigger buttons L2/R2.
Let's take the most common shooting and racing games as an example. The trigger button often corresponds to one of the most commonly used interactions: shooting and pressing the accelerator. Although in the past, we could still use light pressure and heavy pressure to complete the "press gun", or simulate the gradual acceleration of stepping on the accelerator, but the trigger button does not give feedback to this interaction.
▲ Simulate the scene when the rocket is launched, the motor gear will simulate the details of the rocket shaking due to the accumulation of power
So, what improvements have been made to the PS5 controller? From the disassembly of Restore Technique , we learned that Sony has added a gear driven by a motor to each of the two trigger buttons. When it is not powered, the trigger button is pressed similarly to a traditional handle. Once the motor is powered on, the gear will apply a specific resistance to the trigger button to simulate various effects such as the recoil of the gun, the elastic force of the spring, and even the pulling force of the rope.
▲ When the gun is shooting in the game, the finger on the trigger button will also feel the high frequency micro vibration
In "Call of Duty: Cold War", we further experienced the help of adaptive trigger button. Imagine that when you operate shotguns, automatic rifles, and light machine guns, the trigger button will apply different resistance to your fingers depending on the type of firearm, and it will also simulate the vibration frequency of the barrel shaking, which feels like you It's really like pulling the trigger.
The spring jump level in "Cosmic Robot: Playroom" also works perfectly with the PS5's adaptive trigger button. The more you press, the stronger the contraction of the spring in the game, and the greater the resistance from the trigger button. This experience is very wonderful.
The contradiction between universality and specificity
Designing a set of special handles for game consoles is often a "thankless" approach. Because in theory, such an experience is limited to a few games. If the game developer has no plans to adapt to the new controller, then all the controller selling points we see today may be forgotten in two or three years.
PS4 has encountered a similar embarrassment. At that time, Sony added a touch-enabled sensing area to the PS4 controller, a front variable color band, and a built-in speaker, emphasizing that these features can change the way players experience games.
▲ Many PS4 first-party games use the touchpad of the handle to complete some scene interactions
These features are indeed reflected in some PS4 games. For example, in "Infamous: Second Son", players can use the touchpad to play graffiti on the wall or complete small puzzles of the level.
▲ The Marcus painting scene in "Detroit: Become Human" was also completed with a touchpad
In "Detroit: Become Human", some interactions such as QTE operations and painting also need to be realized by sliding the touchpad; as for games such as "Horizon" and "Death Stranding", some of the sound sources are directly emitted from the handle speaker. .
Sony is not the only company that likes to innovate on controllers. On Nintendo Switch, "1-2 Switch" is also a game that takes full advantage of the vibration characteristics of Joy-Con controllers. The shaking soda soda and guessing beads are all simulated by vibration feedback of different frequencies, which also achieves a very realistic effect.
But unfortunately, this kind of "new interaction" is only a flash in the pan. In order to take care of input tools such as keyboards, mice and traditional handles, a large number of third-party developers generally do not choose to use "non-standard" features such as somatosensory and touch. , Integrated into the levels and gameplay, let alone simulate specific vibration feedback for different physical materials and scenes.
This is the contradiction of custom handles.
▲ Blow on the handle, the windmill in the game will rotate
From another perspective, without the support of these controllers, the first-party developers of Sony and Nintendo would not design the corresponding gameplay.
Just like the design of "Blowing into the microphone can blow out the flames in the game" in the NDS game opportunity, in the "Astro's Playroom" game, there is also a hair dryer, which is also realized by blowing the handle, which can be replaced by Other handles or mouse and keyboard may have been carried by a function key, and the gaming experience will undoubtedly be greatly reduced.
▲ The light strip of the PS4 handle can correspond to the color of the blood bar in the game, and it is also used to assist the PS VR camera recognition
In contrast, the controller that Microsoft designed for Xbox is very smart. They will pay more attention to the button layout, grip and other parts, and in the two generations of Xbox 360 and Xbox One, Microsoft's gamepad has indeed gained more players' recognition.
Even if it does not have any sense of body or touch.
▲The trigger button of the Xbox Series X handle has more bump lines to enhance friction. Picture from: Microsoft Design
In the latest generation of Xbox Series X handles, Microsoft has further modified the D-pad arrow keys and added textures to the trigger keys to increase friction. It also investigated the size of the hands of mainstream players around the world, and finally chose a The handle size of most human hands.
▲Dozens of prototype designs of D-pad direction keys. Picture from: Microsoft Design
Microsoft's handle design direction has one thing in common: they are all "universal standards" and have "universal applicability." Whether it is the grip of the handle, the trigger button, or the cross button, it is suitable for both the game console field and the PC, and there will be no situations such as touchpads and light strips that are only suitable for single platforms.
From this point of view, Sony in the PS5 era has also become a lot more pragmatic when designing the handle. It retains the touchpad and the light strip, more for backward compatibility; as for the new adaptive trigger button and vibration feedback, it is also For the enhancement of the original general functions, the rest depends on whether the developer can make good use of it and let the PS5 handle play its own value.
The handle of the future
The game handle has developed to today. After decades of exploration, it has become a basic tool similar to the PC keyboard and mouse. However, on the other side of high maturity, it is difficult for the handle to make breakthroughs in form, buttons and functions, and even indirectly restricts electronics. Interactive innovation of the game.
The game’s evaluation scale has also tilted at this time, especially in the past two generations. Both developers and players seem to be more willing to focus on the "audiovisual content" such as screens and sound effects. Hollywood movie-like games were produced and became stars under the spotlight, but can they really represent the future trend of game development? I don't think.
The core of video games is still interaction, which is the most distinctive feature compared to other media forms such as novels and movies. Relying on the Switch’s Joy-Con design, Nintendo has proven that the unchanging handle shape that we originally recognized can create new design ideas without affecting the traditional layout; as for the multi-level "vibration feedback" , It can also stimulate a new dimension of interaction and enhance the sensory experience of the game.
Now, Sony seems to have recognized this development direction, and will re-put the feedback of the handle on a higher priority. With the efforts of the two giants in the industry, the form of video games may also usher in a new change in the next generation.
▲ Index matching handle is a different kind, but "Half-life: Alex" became popular, let us see this "heavy somatosensory" shape, compatible with VR games
Waiting for a few years, when the more realistic game forms such as VR and AR become mature, players who want to further integrate into the virtual world will inevitably need more dimensional sensory stimulation. Sight, hearing, touch, and even smell will be important breakthroughs in the future.
Perhaps at that time, the handles we hold in our hands will not only play the role of input tools, but will further become an extension of human hands and integrate with game interaction.
Some pictures in the article were taken by Liang Menglin
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