I’ve had my PS5 for over two weeks now, and while I’m enjoying next-gen titles like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the new interface, incredibly fast load times and much more, nothing has changed the way I play. games much like the DualSense controller.
From its haptic feedback to the refined and thicker design, it feels like an authentic step up from the DualShock 4, and really helps solidify the PS5 as a next-gen console. But one of the best features of the controller – the built-in microphone – has already started to annoy me.
A built-in microphone is a great idea – it allows communication on multiplayer games without headphones, and developers use the feature to create new gameplay mechanics in the Astro Playroom, where you blow into the microphone for promotion platforms.
The problem is, I constantly forget that it exists. That’s my main issue here, and this has become increasingly apparent in recent weeks of playing online games and then realizing halfway through a fight I’ve been broadcasting my whole life to strangers.
Just hit the dumb button, dummy
You might be saying right now that there’s a mute button under the PlayStation logo, and you’re right. But when I’m in the middle of an Apex Legends game where I’ve rolled 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 user interface tells me I’m broadcasting – the microphone icon only appears when you’re rolling or annoying yourself – and that means my that I have been chatting away with people at home, while strangers on the internet are listening unconsciously at.
Thankfully I haven’t read out my bank details or disclosed to the world about that rash that will never go away, but there is a certain level of embarrassment that comes when you realize you’ve been sharing conversations you were you only think in your own home, for two other players in a battle royale scenario.
It’s not just me either. TechRadar Senior Staff Writer Adam Vjestica told me that he once submerged the world to the horrific noise of having eaten a whole bag of Maoams, which is not a pleasant sight, let alone sounds. Shame and embarrassment, all thanks to DualSense controller microphone.
Muscle memory is not there
A muscular memory of plugging a headset into 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 always broadcast by default even when I don’t have headphones plugged in, which is not ideal.
There is a solution, though. It seems you can turn off the microphone feature by default in the PlayStation 5. settings. If you want to, you can go to Settings> Audio> Microphone and then change the status under Microphone Status When Login.
If you don’t, even if you remembered to turn your microphone off during a previous gaming session, it will turn itself back on when you start it again.
Since making this change, I’ve also seen that the console will automatically record your voice whenever you’ve popped a trophy as well. The PS5 will record a video clip right before you get the trophy, and it will also record your sound to capture the moment you screamed with joy as you finally defeated 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 indicate I’m being recorded, I feel like Sony has ignored it many 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 case of DualSense, it really is.
Privacy does not seem to be Sony’s main focus here, and while the core idea is sound, more needs to be done to make consumers aware of what’s happening. If you don’t want to be broadcasting your private life to the world, make sure you change your settings on the DualSense controller to make sure it doesn’t record things you don’t want it to. Otherwise, you might share something you regret.