Returnal: First impressions - DualSense controller steals the show

Published: 13:14, 30 April 2021
RETURNAL written in yellow font, below the game's main protagonist in a space suite - Selene.
Returnal (PS5 exclusive)

Returnal is out today for PlayStation 5, and after having some time with it, I just had to pause everything and write this opinion piece about the real star of this roguelike shooter - the DualSense controller.

Five months after the release of the PlayStation 5 console, Returnal is the first game that makes me feel like I own a new console, a piece of next-generation hardware. I haven't been this excited about a new game in a long time, and thanks to SIE and Housemarque studio, I'm hyped about gaming again.

It only took me a few seconds after firing up the latest PlayStation 5 exclusive to realise who (or what) the real star of this game is. As you can guess, I'm talking about the DualSense controller.

Sony artwork showing DualSense 5 controller DualSense controller

It's not that hard to forget that you're playing with a next-gen controller these days, but games like Returnal and Astro's Playroom are really doing sweet justice to this little bad boy.

This article may sound like a paid ad for Sony's hardware, but this is really an honest opinion of a fellow gamer. The first impressions are genuinely important to many of us, and Returnal is doing a really good job here.

Haptic Feedback (plus 3D Audio)

As soon as the opening cinematic starts, you can feel everything you see on your screen. All the stuff flying past Selena's ship is perfectly translated into the harmony of poetic vibrations which you feel with your palms. Sound plays an important part here as 3D audio in your headphones is a perfect combo with all these little details, which in the end make a big impact on your gameplay.

Hearing rain in your headphones in 3D audio and feeling little vibrations through your DualSense controller is just so perfectly done. It's like when an audio engineer uses EQ to distinguish one sound from another, you can feel different types of vibrations the same way.

Adaptive Triggers:

Yes, you can experience these features in Astro's Playroom as well, but Housemarque actually took things to the next level. Our muscle memory was used to squeeze L2 when aiming in shooter games, but in Returnal you only need to gently press halfway to aim and squeeze the trigger all the way to activate the Alternative fire mode.

When I read about this in previews, I was a little sceptic, but after trying it out for myself, I was completely blown away by how good DualSense's Adaptive triggers are implemented here.

Return. Die. Repeat.

I'm still in the game's early stages, but I'm already having an amazing time with it. In-game graphics are great, the gameplay is amazing and shooting up various monstrosities on Atros feels incredible thanks to the DualSense features being utilized the right way.

Review coming soon.

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