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The PlayStation Backbone is an excellent mobile controller, but it is not an ideal companion for the PlayStation 5


By TechThop Team

Posted on: 16 Aug, 2022

It is my favorite mobile controller to use the Backbone. The Xbox One S is an excellent choice for gamers on the move, but its Xbox face buttons and heavy Game Pass marketing skewed heavily towards Microsoft. The announcement that PlayStation would officially partner with Backbone to make a PlayStation-centric mobile controller was exciting.

I'm left wondering, however, “Is this really what I wanted?” Both Backbone and PlayStation made it clear that this isn't meant to be a mobile DualSense, but I still felt disappointed. The Backbone is colored like a DualSense and features PlayStation face buttons. According to the product listing on the Backbone website, the controller is 'inspired by the look and feel of the PS DualSense,' but that only holds true visually.

In spite of being 'inspired' by the DualSense, the PlayStation Backbone lacks even one of the features that define the PS5 controller. After playing a handful of PlayStation 5 first-party games using the PlayStation Backbone, I think there's a deeper issue behind my disappointment.

It is an excellent controller, the DualSense. In terms of comfort, it's very heavy and responsive and it has a decent level of weight. Its exclusive features include haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and 3D audio, making it everything you're looking for in a controller. PlayStation 5-exclusive titles have all capitalized on these features in one way or another, giving each one a distinctly unique feel.

In my testing of PS5-exclusive games using the PlayStation Backbone, I was underwhelmed. The day started poorly when I booted up Astro's Playroom, a game that comes installed on every PS5 and serves, while certainly enjoyable, as a tech demo for the DualSense.

The only PS5 game that was unplayable on the PlayStation Backbone was Astro's Playroom, but that doesn't mean it felt compromised. The next games on my list were Returnal and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, which are both heavily reliant on the controller's features. It was about as expected when I played them both.

As I was getting ready to play Returnal and Rift Apart, my biggest concern was that both games used adaptive triggers not only to simulate resistance or a jammed weapon, but also as additional buttons that were crucial to achieving success in battle.

Both of them offer alternate control schemes which map half and full trigger pulls to different buttons on the controller, but that doesn't mean that all PS5 exclusives will allow players to remap the triggers.

The fact that a mobile controller doesn't boast any of the features of the DualSense is a bit of a letdown. The Scuf Reflex controller, for example, can include DualSense-exclusive features, so it's not unreasonable to expect that an official PlayStation partner can as well. In particular, this is true since the PlayStation Backbone is priced at $100, $30 more than the new DualSense.

Due to the fact that PS5 games must run on both DualSense and DualShock 4, they tend not to rely on features that wouldn't work without DualSense support. If you want to play Horizon: Forbidden West or God of War: Ragnorok on the go, you won't have any major problems.

The PlayStation Backbone lacks a few features, but it's still one of the best mobile controllers on the market. The controller just feels totally disconnected from what makes the PlayStation 5 unique.

In general, it's not a bad controller to use for mobile gaming, but the fact that it is branded PlayStation makes it feel like it should have more to offer. The DualSense controller has brought a laundry list of innovative features to gaming controllers, especially when compared to PlayStation's previous offerings.

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