Black Ops: Cold War has arrived. There are several platforms to play Call of Duty on this year, but only the PlayStation 5 can literally give the game a next-gen feel with its controller. But is this novel sense of realism the best option for a multiplayer shooter? My hands aren’t convinced.
All the next-gen consoles have pretty beefy specs, but there’s no denying that there’s something special about PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller. I spent some time last night trying to explain to someone on PlayStation 4 that this wasn’t just some basic DualShock rumble from PlayStations past, but a new degree of haptic feedback that you really have to feel for yourself by getting hands-on with the controller.
And for folks lucky enough to score a PlayStation 5, today’s launch of Black Ops: Cold War will literally feel like a completely different experience than on any other platform. Whether this new feature will feel like something next-level immersive or a total hindrance will likely come down to what mode one plays.
I think the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers might be really great if you’re diving into Cold War’s campaign. Assuming you’re using the default controller settings with L2 and R2 triggers to aim down sights and shoot, Treyarch added different levels of tension you’ll feel when aiming down sights and firing each weapon. You can flip your controller scheme to use R1 and L1 instead, as some players prefer, but then you won’t get to experience the newly tactile, uniquely dynamic feedback when firing weapons.
In an interview with GameSpot, Treyarch’s lead game designer Tony Flame discussed PlayStation 5’s unique controller and how it works with Black Ops: Cold War. “It’s got new haptic feedback so when you’re pulling the trigger, it’s shaking, every time a gun fires there is a little motor in there that’s firing every time,” Flame said. “There is sensitivity on the trigger that represents the trigger pressure on a real weapon. All of that has been tuned in the game for each individual weapon. So, it’s quite a lot to take in, but it’s pretty awesome, and it gives the guns a feeling like they’ve never had before.”
And it really is a unique experience. It might feel like a subtle difference in some weapons of the same size or class, but there’s a very noticeable difference in feel between firing a pistol and hoisting up an RPG. The combination of haptic feedback and tension in the triggers really does add weight to something as hefty as a rocket launcher. I usually have a launcher equipped during multiplayer objective modes, and I recall saying, “man, this thing is getting heavy,” as I shot multiple enemy spy planes and attack choppers out of the sky.
Unfortunately, I don’t think this feature is the most ideal for multiplayer sessions. The added tension in the triggers can increase the time it takes to fire a shot. Even an added millisecond can make or break a gunfight. Luckily, you can disable the fancy controller features in the settings. I struggled for my first few matches of Cold War PS5 multiplayer, and while I eventually grew accustomed to the extra tension, my response time during gunfights felt so much better after I disabled the feature.
You also have to factor in fatigue. You need some strong fingers to play long multiplayer sessions with the adaptive triggers on. I was only about an hour into my multiplayer session when I realized my fingers were already getting tired, and I wouldn’t be able to play all-nighters with my friends if I let the adaptive triggers keep pushing back.
I’m not here to rain on Sony’s parade. The haptic feedback and adaptive triggers really are something impressive, and I hope all the people who want to try the DualSense features get the opportunity to experience this for themselves. But for me? My hands hurt, and I think I’ll stick to less immersive Call of Duty multiplayer for the foreseeable future.