I’ve had my PS5 for over two weeks now, and while I’m enjoying next-gen titles like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the new interface, phenomenally quick load times and much more, nothing has changed the way I play games quite like the DualSense controller.
From its haptic feedback to the refined and chunkier design, it feels like a genuine step up from the DualShock 4, and really helps solidify the PS5 as a next-gen console. But one of the controller’s best features - the built-in microphone - has already started to annoy me.
A built-in microphone is a great idea - it allows for communication on multiplayer games without a headset, and developers are using the feature to create new gameplay mechanics in Astro’s Playroom, where you blow into the microphone to elevate platforms.
The problem is, I’m constantly forgetting it exists. That’s my main issue here, and this has become increasingly apparent in the last few weeks of playing games online and then realizing midway through a match that I’ve been broadcasting my entire life to strangers.
Just hit the mute button, dummy
You may be saying right now that there’s a mute button right underneath the PlayStation logo, and you’re right. But when I’m in the middle of an Apex Legends match where I’ve muted the rest of my squad by default, I’ve forgotten that my microphone is on in the first place.
It’s rare that the PS5’s user interface tells me I’m broadcasting - the microphone icon only appears on the screen when you mute or unmute yourself - and that means I’ve been chatting away to people at home, while strangers on the internet unknowingly listen in.
Thankfully I haven’t read aloud my bank details or revealed to the world about that rash that still won’t go away, but there’s a but there’s a certain level of embarrassment that comes when you realize you’ve been sharing conversations that you thought were just in your own home, to two other players in a battle royale scenario.
It’s not just me, either. Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar, Adam Vjestica, told me that he once subjected the world to the horrendous noise of him eating an entire bag of Maoams, which isn’t a pleasant sight, let alone sound. Cue shame and embarrassment, all thanks to the DualSense controller’s microphone.
The Muscle memory isn’t there
Muscle memory of plugging in a headset to my DualShock 4 tended to remind me that I’d be broadcasting to either a party of my friends or a bunch of strangers on the internet. With the DualSense, I need to learn that I’m always broadcasting by default even when I don’t have a headset plugged in, which isn’t ideal.
There is a solution, though. It turns out you can switch off the microphone feature by default in the PlayStation 5’s settings. If you want to do that, you can head to the Settings > Sound > Microphone and then change the status under Microphone Status When Logged In.
If you don’t do this, even if you remembered to turn your microphone off during a previous gaming session, it’ll turn itself back on when you boot it up again.
Since making this change, I’ve also seen that the console will record your voice automatically whenever you’ve popped a trophy too. The PS5 will record a segment of video right before you’ve got the trophy, and it’ll also record your audio to grab the moment you screamed with joy as you finally defeated that Demon’s Souls boss.
It’s a nice idea, in theory - but again, without the microphone icon appearing on screen as it happens, or a clear message to state that I’m being recorded, I feel Sony has overlooked a lot of privacy issues when developing this feature. It wasn’t too long ago that people were worried that Microsoft’s Kinect was always listening in, and in the DualSense’s case, it actually is.
Privacy doesn’t seem to be Sony’s main focus here, and while the core idea is sound, more needs to be done make sure users are aware of what's going on. If you don’t want to be broadcasting your private life to the world, be sure to change with your settings on the DualSense controller to ensure it’s not recording things you don’t want it to. Otherwise, you may overshare something you regret.