The original Xbox Elite controller came out way back in 2015, so it’s a wonder why Sony took so long to release its own take on a premium gamepad. But now that the PlayStation 5 is more widely available (kind of), the company is finally ready to show the world what it can do. While the $200 DualSense Edge costs a bit more than its rival, it offers a few nifty features you don’t get on Microsoft’s controller, combined with one potentially major shortcoming.
For the Edge, Sony didn’t stray much from its default template. From the top, the Edge looks almost exactly the same aside from a black D-pad and face buttons and a black touchpad adorned with a subtle pattern featuring the company’s signature ▲ ■ ● and ✖ icons. Where things get interesting is when you notice the two little nubs that stick out below the analog sticks, which are function buttons reserved for changing your controller’s button assignments.
In back, there are two switches on either side next to the shoulder triggers for adjusting their pull length, along with slots to accommodate the gamepad’s removable rear paddles. The controller comes with two sets of rear paddles: longer, more traditional levers and short stubby half-domes, the latter of which ended up being my favorite. You also get a total of three different joystick nubs (standard, short-stemmed convex and long-stemmed convex) that can be swapped out on the fly, and a cable lock which can prevent the included USB-C cord from getting pulled out by accident.
Both the thumbsticks and the rear paddles attach magnetically, which makes it super simple to test out different layouts before finding a combo you like. The long-stemmed domed thumbstick can be helpful for snipers in shooting games, especially if you prefer playing at lower sensitivities. But I was less concerned with trying to get an edge than I was with making the controller as comfortable as possible.
One of the Edge’s highlight features are those fully replaceable analog sticks. By sliding the release toggle in back, the shroud around the analog sticks lifts off, revealing removable modules that attach via USB-A and can be changed out in seconds. This means when you start to experience some controller drift (which you will, given enough wear and tear), you can simply buy replacement thumbstick modules that cost $20 each. For hardcore gamers that put in hundreds or thousands of hours into their consoles, this can represent huge savings over time. If one joystick starts to get a bit wonky, just switch it out, or replace both sticks at the same time and get almost a brand-new gamepad.
Finally, to round everything out, the Edge comes with a hardshell carrying case that looks and feels like an extra-large space egg. It has a lightly padded interior and a small mesh pocket for any additional accessories you might need (like the included charging cable). There’s also a nifty velcro pass-through flap in back that allows you to route a cord inside so you can charge the controller while it remains tucked safely inside the case.
Software and features
Another big advantage the Edge has over rivals (especially third-party offerings like Scuf’s Reflex) is the ability to set custom button configurations. The PS5 supports four quickset options and has the ability to save even more in settings. Switching layouts takes less than a second and is as simple as pressing either one of the function buttons and one face button at the same time. I also appreciate that the PS5 pops up a simple walkthrough on how to set everything the first time you connect the controller. And whenever you want to revisit your button presets, all you have to do is open the console’s settings menu.
Other handy features include the ability to customize your joystick sensitivity, adjust their deadzone and even set the actuation point for the triggers. So depending on your preferences, you can tell the controller to ignore shallow pulls to avoid inadvertent presses. This also works in conjunction with the slider on the back of the controller which can change the physical travel distance of the triggers to three distances (short, medium and long), which is nice when switching from a racing game, where you want the full analog feedback, and an FPS, when you want a real hair trigger setup.
When you get around to actually using the Edge, gaming with it almost feels like having a Swiss Army Knife. Sure, it looks and feels like a standard DualSense, but when you run into an awkward situation, the gamepad always seems to have a solution. For example: Some of my first console shooters were Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Goldeneye on the N64, so I’ve always preferred what gamers often call a Southpaw joystick setup, which means aiming with the left joystick and moving with the right. Unfortunately, not every shooter supports this layout. But with the DualSense I can use it in whatever game I want.
Additionally, while the DualSense’s deep triggers are great for racing games, that long pull is kind of annoying in fighters or beat ’em ups like Streets of Rage 4. But simply by moving the toggles in back, I can significantly shorten the pull, making things feel snappier and more responsive.
Now I should mention that some other premium controllers like the Xbox Elite Series 2 offer multiple D-pad options, but in my opinion, both of them are worse than Sony’s arrow-shaped version. And while I’ll probably never use the cable lock, I can see it being useful in tournament settings where you want the confidence of a wired connection but don’t want to worry about your USB cable getting yanked out by accident.
My one small complaint is that I wish you could assign custom actions to the little function nubs. Right now they’re dedicated to switching button presets and there’s no way to change that, which seems like a bit of a waste. There are two nubs, at least let me use one of them as an extra button, especially since I feel like they’re in the perfect location for launching grenades in shooters.
The DualSense Edge’s biggest weakness is its battery life, which is somehow worse than the standard PS5 controller. On average I was getting around five to six hours of use on a single charge, compared to six or seven for the regular DualSense. And that’s just frustrating because not only does the Edge cost more than twice as much, the type of people that would pay big money for a premium controller are also quite likely to engage in marathon gaming sessions. And there are few things more annoying than having to scramble for a USB cord when your controller dies in the middle of the firefight. Thankfully, the Edge comes with a lengthy 10-foot USB cable, so even if it runs out of juice, you’ll probably still be able to plug it in and have the cable reach your couch.
While the idea of paying $200 for a fancy controller might seem like a bit much (and it kind of is), after using the DualSense Edge I can see the appeal. It offers a familiar design with a handful of extra features including easy button remapping, multiple joystick nubs, customizable rear paddles and more. And the Edge is actually a tiny bit cheaper than some third-party options like those from Scuf, which doesn’t have replaceable joystick modules. Its short battery life is definitely a downer and I would have liked to see Sony include support for a second pair of paddles in back, like you get on of other premium gamepads. But if I had to choose just one controller to use with my PS5 until it dies, the DualSense Edge would be it.