With the DualSense Edge, Sony is the last of the big three platform holders to bring a pro controller to the market. Nintendo has one for Switch, Xbox’s Elites are in their second iteration, and both of these exist alongside a plethora of third-party devices from Astro, Turtle Beach, and Scuf, among others. PlayStation’s offering arrives in a packed marketplace, but the years of sitting on the sidelines may have worked to Sony’s advantage.
The DualSense Edge incorporates years of learnings from its competitors to present something that ticks all the right boxes for a good high-end video game controller and even improves the user experience in some key ways. The end result is a pro controller that is iterative, but also looks and feels premium while bringing a customizability to the PlayStation gaming experience that hasn’t existed before. The question is whether that is enough to justify the $200 price tag for you, and whether its limited battery life will suffice for your needs.
At first blush, there’s not a lot that distinguishes the Edge from the standard DualSense visually. From certain angles, it looks like the same controller, and so very easily fits into the PlayStation 5’s white-on-black with blue light trimming aesthetic. If you’re not a fan of that, there’s little you can do about it short of getting a skin.
The only real visual differences to speak of are minor. The finish on the bottom half of the center panel, where the analogue sticks and PlayStation button are housed, is made from a glossier plastic. It’s more reflective and feels smoother; it’s a mostly inoffensive way of making it look more premium. The touchpad is not a block of white anymore, either, and instead has a matte black finish comparable to the finish of the standard DualSense, but with a very small PlayStation symbols pattern on it, which is a nice little touch.
In terms of features, the Edge has the adaptive triggers, haptics, internal microphone, and speaker the DualSense has, along with the same positioning for the charging and headphone ports. The big new addition for the Edge is the ability to add two extra buttons on the back of the controller–one on each side. Smartly, Sony has included the standard paddle-style attachment that contours around the controller as well as the smaller, half-moon-style buttons. The former was my setup of choice as it allowed my fingers to very naturally rest and press on them, but there were a few occasions where I’d accidentally hit one. Those that are more serious about avoiding these accidental interactions can opt for the latter to minimize the coverage the extra buttons have.
If you have any experience with the Xbox Elite controllers, you’re no doubt noting that Microsoft’s offering has four back buttons available, compared to the Edge’s two. Although this was initially a concern for me too, I very quickly realized that I was doing just fine without the extra buttons and, in fact, felt a little more comfortable holding the controller.
While the two extra buttons certainly would have been nice to have, they’re not a major loss in large part thanks to the new function buttons placed below each of the two analogue sticks. Holding one of these downs makes a menu pop up, prompting you to hit one of the face buttons to select a profile. Through the DualSense Edge settings menu, you can completely reassign all the buttons on the controller to suit your needs for that particular game and genre, and the function buttons make it easy to swap between multiple profiles on the fly.
The change is instantaneous, which means that if you’re a multiplayer shooter player, you could have different profiles dedicated to different types of weapons–completely with tweaked dead zones for the sticks and disabled or remapped buttons–and switch them out as quickly as you would a weapon. Alternatively, you could be like me and set up a first-person shooter profile, a fighting game profile, and an action game profile. Of course, you can add, delete, and edit profiles very easily through the settings menu too. The process of remapping and tweaking dead zones is very intuitive so you can really get obsessed with finding the sweet spot if you’re into that sort of thing.
At the back of the controller, right next to the L2 and R2 buttons, are trigger stops, which let you adjust how deeply you need to pull them for the on-screen response. There are three positions that you can move between, with the lowest giving the L2 and R2 buttons the same travel as the L1 and R1 buttons, which is not very far. The one thing to keep in mind is that when changing this setting, the adaptive triggers feature will no longer be available, so if you enjoy that developer-programmed resistance when you pull a trigger on an in-game gun, you’ll lose that.
Another interesting feature that I didn’t get to test much–and hope I never have to–is the ability to completely remove the analogue stick module. This feature feels like a response to the ever-present risk of stick drift, which–if you are unfortunate enough to encounter–should theoretically make it fairly easy to fix. Sony is selling new stick modules for $20, which feels a little pricey, but may be the preferred alternative to buying an entirely new controller or sending the controller away for repair.
The main issue with the DualSense Edge’s performance is the battery life, which seems slightly reduced from the standard DualSense controller–a controller not exactly known for the longevity of its battery as is. I would get through most of the Edge’s power in about four hours, and that was without using the haptics or the internal microphone and speaker much. I expect that games taking advantage of those features a bit more will reduce that time further.
My other major gripe is with the premium carrying case, which is another thing that is available to those who purchase an Xbox Elite controller. For the most part, the Edge’s is great: sturdy, nice-looking, and able to house all the extra thumbstick nubs (including a tall one and a half-dome one you can pop on), back buttons, braided USB cable, and fastener. However, the main issue is in the way the controller is charged, which requires you to manually feed a cable through the back of the case and plug it into the port at the top of the controller. It’s a very normal thing, but it feels very finicky next to the Elite controller, which has contacts that the back of the controller magnetises to. It’s so easy to open the Elite’s case, pop it in, and know that it’s charging, then grab it out. On the PlayStation side, this process is more of a struggle and I’ve found myself using the DualSense Charging Station instead, as it’s much easier.
And that brings us back to the question of whether it’s worth $200. Everyone’s circumstances are different, as are what they want out of a controller that costs that much. And for those people, it may be worth considering the alternatives, as there are certainly cheaper third-party controllers for the PS5 available. But based on my experience, I believe the DualSense Edge is a very well-made, satisfyingly weightier controller that provides many of the bells and whistles that I want from a high-end controller. And, barring any major issues, it should be a controller you can use for many years to come–perhaps even the lifecycle of the PlayStation 5. Ultimately, though, it is just like every other pro controller out there: It’s a cool accessory that you can live without but will probably enjoy having.