After countless delays and a huge amount of work on the part of developer CD Projekt Red, Cyberpunk 2077 finally hit PS5 and Xbox Series X/S on February 15. This enhanced version launched with a massive patch that added some much-needed quality-of-life improvements and gameplay tweaks, including an overhaul to the game’s perks system. But the coolest feature of this release may actually be exclusive to PlayStation: It’s the way CD Projekt Red has used the DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers to make the game much more immersive. In fact, more than anything else, it’s this feature that’s making Cyberpunk 2077 worth coming back to for me.
If you’ve held a PlayStation 5 controller, then you know what I’m talking about. The DualSense features adaptive triggers that can add resistance to the L2 and R2 buttons. Depending on the game, this could translate to more tension when shooting a gun, or vibrations while driving a car. The end result is a more nuanced experience, one that seeks to mimic the real-world action performed in the game. It’s hardly a 1-to-1 comparison, of course, but when utilized well, the DualSense does an excellent job at conveying the impression of a real experience through its adaptive triggers.
For Cyberpunk’s next-gen launch, CDPR has really capitalized on the controller’s capabilities, and the game feels totally different because of it.
Take driving, for example. It wasn’t great at launch, with cars feeling floaty and steering feeling imprecise. The next-gen re-release addressed some of these concerns while also fundamentally changing how driving feels via the DualSense’s adaptive triggers. Now, when cruising down the rain-slicked streets of Night City in an old junker or a top-of-the-line sports car, you feel the gears shifting and the tires gripping the road while drifting corners. And because the DualSense also has other haptics built into it, crashes are much more impactful thanks to the varying degrees of vibrations that occur. Honestly, driving just feels miles better and way more nuanced now.
The same is true for guns, with the trigger buttons making them feel heavier and requiring more pressure to aim and shoot. Perhaps most striking is just how different it feels to fire a pistol, a hefty machine gun, and a shotgun. CDPR lead gameplay designer Michał Dobrowolski told Kotaku over email that these sensations are created via the adaptive triggers shifting between different settings and emitting various levels of pressure needed in order to press the buttons.
“The feeling you end up with is immersive to say the least,” Dobrowolski said. “It lets you feel the game world around you in a completely new way, distinct from how you experience the world through visuals, sounds, and even vibrations. It’s a whole new realm of possibilities design-wise, and from the gamer’s perspective—and I am a gamer myself, too—a really fun way of diving deeper into the experience.”
Dobrowolski is right. Playing Cyberpunk 2077 is fun, particularly because of the PS5 controller’s adaptive triggers and haptics. They add a unique feel that, as Dobrowolski put it, lets you feel the weight of the game’s world. Things are heavier, more impactful, and more nuanced now. It doesn’t quite make Cyberpunk 2077 feel like a new game, but it definitely makes the game’s efforts to pull you into Night City that much more successful.
It’s just a shame that Cyberpunk 2077 is still starving for content. The quality-of-life improvements are welcome, and the new features alter the game’s feel, but many of us who have already completed the game are now left waiting for new things to do and experience in its freshly revamped world. Hopefully, CDPR opens up about whatever major paid expansions are in development soon, because these cool adaptive triggers and haptics–along with all the other changes brought about with this re-launch–need the support of great new adventures in Night City to really make the most of their potential.