The Backbone is my favourite cellular controller. It’s a strong choose for anybody trying to sport on the go, but it surely at all times skewed closely in a Microsoft path as a result of its matching Xbox face buttons and heavy Game Pass advertising. Sot was thrilling when PlayStation introduced that it might be formally partnering with Backbone to make a PlayStation-centric model of the cellular controller I’ve come to like.
Now that I’ve it in my arms, nonetheless, I’m left asking myself, “Is this really what I wanted?” In advertising the controller, each Backbone and PlayStation made it clear that it’s not meant to be a cellular DualSense, however I nonetheless couldn’t assist however really feel dissatisfied. It’s a Backbone coloured like a DualSense that options PlayStation face buttons, however that’s it. The description on the product itemizing on the Backbone web site says that the controller is “inspired by the look and feel of the PS DualSense,” but it surely solely makes good within the appears to be like division of that assertion.
Despite being “inspired” by the DualSense, the PlayStation Backbone doesn’t have a single one of many options which have come to outline the controller of the PS5 era. Normally, I’d say that my disappointment is the results of misaligned expectations, however after giving a handful of first-party PlayStation 5 video games a attempt utilizing the PlayStation Backbone, I believe there’s a deeper downside at work.
An incomplete package deal
The DualSense is a superb controller. On a base stage, it’s extraordinarily comfy to carry and has an actual weight and stage of responsiveness to it. It’s basically every thing you want in a controller and extra due to its unique options like haptic suggestions, adaptive triggers, and 3D audio. These are options that, in a technique or one other, each PlayStation 5-exclusive title has capitalized on, giving every one a literal distinctive feeling.
The PlayStation Backbone has none of that. It’s a normal gamepad that, whereas nonetheless of top quality, is about as bare-bones as you will get. That usually wouldn’t be an issue if this had been some unheard-of third-party system, however as a result of it’s an official PlayStation product, the truth that these options are lacking is a big downside while you go to play PS5 video games.
I examined out a handful of PS5-exclusive titles utilizing the PlayStation Backbone and was left feeling underwhelmed. Things had been off to a poor begin once I booted up Astro’s Playroom, a sport that comes routinely downloaded on each PS5 and, whereas definitely enjoyable in itself, basically serves as a tech demo for the DualSense.
To be blunt: The sport is borderline unplayable utilizing the PlayStation Backbone. There are lacking options all through such because the 3D audio footsteps of Astro Bot strolling across the inside of the PS5. The sport comes to a whole cease when confronted with any of the “gimmick sections” of the degrees that require issues like tilting the controller, blowing into it to energy followers, or utilizing the touchpad with any stage of precision.
Astro’s Playroom was the one PS5 sport that was unfinishable on the PlayStation Backbone, however that’s to not say that it was the one one which felt compromised. The subsequent video games on my record had been Returnal and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, two video games that additionally lean closely into the options of the controller that will be absent on the cellular model. Playing them each went about in addition to you may count on.
Playing via the issues
The massive downside that I anticipated when on the point of play each Returnal and Rift Apart was the truth that each video games made use of the adaptive triggers not simply to simulate issues like resistance or a jammed weapon, however as extra buttons mandatory for being profitable on the video games’ fight. Luckily, they each provide alternate management schemes that map these half and full pulls of the set off to totally different locations on the controller, however there’s nothing to say that each one PS5 exclusives shall be so prepared to let gamers remap the triggers to different buttons.
Other than the dearth of adaptive set off assist, it nonetheless felt like there was one thing lacking from nearly each PS5 title I attempted: Astro’s Playroom, Returnal, Ratchet and Clank, Ghostwire: Tokyo, Demon’s Souls, and Deathloop. They all appeared to have a newfound flatness of types due to the dearth of different DualSense options like 3D audio and haptic suggestions. The video games can positively stand on their very own with out DualSense options (apart from Astro’s Playroom), however a significant sense of the PlayStation 5’s uniqueness is definitely misplaced.
It can be so much to count on a cellular controller to have the entire options of the DualSense, however the truth that it doesn’t boast any is a reasonably large letdown. Other third-party PS5 controllers just like the Scuf Reflex are capable of embody DualSense-exclusive options so it doesn’t really feel fully unreasonable to count on an official PlayStation accomplice to have the ability to embody some as nicely. This is very the case as a result of the PlayStation Backbone prices $100, $30 greater than a brand new DualSense.
It’s price stating that PS5 video games that launched alongside PS4 variations nonetheless play advantageous utilizing the PlayStation Backbone as a result of they should run on each the DualSense and the DualShock 4, so they have a tendency to not depend on options that wouldn’t work with out DualSense assist. This signifies that when you’re trying to play Horizon: Forbidden West or the hotly anticipated God of War: Ragnorok on the go, you received’t be working into any main points.
The lack of options on the PlayStation Backbone isn’t an entire deal-breaker; it’s nonetheless a Backbone, which is without doubt one of the finest cellular controllers available on the market. It simply feels utterly faraway from what makes the PlayStation 5’s controller distinctive. When used for common cellular gaming (which appears to be what Backbone is extra involved with), it’s nonetheless nearly every thing you’d need out of a controller, nonetheless, the truth that it’s a PlayStation-branded controller makes it really feel prefer it ought to have extra to it. That’s very true when fascinated with the laundry record of improvements PlayStation has delivered to gaming controllers with the introduction of the DualSense.
It’s an important controller, but it surely’s a nasty PlayStation controller.