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a close-up of the D-pad and left analog stick of the PS5’s DualSense controller Photo: Henry Hargreaves for Polygon

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Four PS5 games that really show off the DualSense controller

Wanna see what your new controller can do?

Russ Frushtick is the director of special projects, and he has been covering the world of video games and technology for over 15 years. He co-founded Polygon in 2012.

Before the launch of the PlayStation 5, I knew that its new controller would have some fancy technology built in. But it wasn’t until I had a chance to play with DualSense controllers that I realized what a major difference they can make in a gameplay experience. The haptic feedback and adaptive triggers are a big step up from the last generation, adding new levels of immersion to the games that support them.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of games that make use of all the DualSense features on PlayStation 5 yet, and fewer still that use them well. Some games (like Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition) halfheartedly support them for a couple of button inputs, while others (Spider-Man: Miles Morales) use them so often that it can get annoying.

With all that said, here are four currently available PS5 games that make use of the DualSense controller in incredible ways.

Astro’s Playroom

Captain Astro on top of a DualSense controller in Astro’s Playroom Image: PlayStation/Twitch

This is an obvious one, because it’s entirely designed around showing off the many features of the DualSense controller. Astro’s Playroom uses every bit of the buffalo, from the adaptive triggers creating tension when you pull back a bow to fire an arrow, to the controller speaker echoing with Astro’s footsteps, to haptics so you can feel raindrops as they patter in your head. There’s even a sequence where you roll around as a ball using the touchpad to add spin.

Sure, some of the segments are better than others — steering a rocketship toward the end of the game steals the show, while controlling an early spring man is not as much fun — but the overall package is incredible. And good news, it comes free with your PlayStation 5!

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

A military helicopter prepares for landing in Black Ops Cold War Image: Treyarch, Raven Software/Activision

I wasn’t expecting to see many third-party games utilize system-specific features like the DualSense controller, but Treyarch went above and beyond with Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War’s PS5 version.

Adaptive triggers and haptics are used throughout the game. In the wildest implementation I’ve seen yet, pulling the left trigger to aim takes more effort if you’re using a heavier gun. Using a massive machine gun, I couldn’t fully pull the trigger in, as the controller was creating so much tension to mimic the weight of the thing. Meanwhile, the right trigger flutters and pushes back on my finger while I’m shooting, letting me feel the kickback of each round as it’s fired.

I’m sure that many people will quickly turn these features off, especially if they’re looking to stay competitive in multiplayer, but even without the triggers, the haptics do a lot of work. Feeling the chop of a helicopter in your hand as you ride into a mission is remarkable, and really adds to the cinematic nature of the campaign.


Lizbert from Bugsnax Image: Young Horses via Polygon

This smaller indie title from the creators of Octodad: Dadliest Catch is also out on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC, but the PS5 version really shines thanks to its DualSense controller support. The game is all about investigating and capturing critters called bugsnax, which means you’ll spend a lot of time taking pictures of them. Taking a photo turns the trigger into a clickable DSLR shutter button, making you really feel like you’re snapping a shot, and haptics help sell the illusion as well.

The game also leans heavily on the DualSense controller’s speaker, comically shouting the names of the bugsnax (in character) when you capture them. Hearing my controller yell “Bunger!” in a dopey voice never seems to get old.

It’s exciting to see small studios taking advantage of the PS5 hardware in really unique ways, and I’m sure more will follow in Bugsnax’s footprints.

Demon’s Souls

confronting a giant glowing enemy in Demon’s Souls (remake) Image: Bluepoint Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Demon’s Souls is the most visually stunning game of the PlayStation 5’s current slate, but Bluepoint Games didn’t settle merely for adding pretty graphics to this remake. While the adaptive triggers are minimally used (just when you’re pulling back the string on your bow), the game makes great use of haptics and the controller’s speaker.

Every spell you fire off or attack you land realistically vibrates inside the DualSense, matched with the sounds of that attack slowly echoing away. The same is true for enemies, and you can actually feel a spell fired by a creepy mage as it nears your character’s body.

Demon’s Souls’ implementation of DualSense features is relatively sparse compared to that of, say, Black Ops: Cold War, but it really does make the experience far more immersive — and every death far more painful.