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Everything We Know About The PS5 Access Controller

Back in January of 2023, PlayStation offered gamers the first preview of its new accessibility controller, dubbed Project Leonardo at the time. More recently, in honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 18, it gave fans a more detailed look at what is now officially called the Access Controller. While still a ways from launch with no set release date yet, players now have a much better idea of what this controller will look like and how it will work. 

As previously revealed, this new controller is intended to help gamers with various disabilities and physical limitations get into the action and enjoy a more immersive and comfortable experience. It's designed to achieve this with the help of a larger controller and an elegant design that maximizes customization options. These features, PlayStation hopes, will allow countless players to modify their controllers to suit their own unique needs. By making a controller that can actually become many different controllers, PlayStation seeks to make console gaming more accessible than ever.

The Access controller maximizes customization

The core concept of the Access Controller is undoubtedly customization, and it looks to excel in this regard. The controller is composed of a disk with buttons around it and a single analog stick attached to the side — and essentially every aspect of it can be modified in some way.

The analog stick can be fitted with a standard PS controller stick cap, a more rounded one that offers more surface area, and even a large ball for the classic, arcade game feel. Meanwhile, the buttons on the disk come in a variety of styles to offer different degrees of upward and downward curves with both concave and convex variations. Each button can be programmed to correspond to any input on a standard controller, and separate cap tags can be attached to any of the buttons to designate what each button has been set as.

For even greater customization, the Access Controller is designed to work in any position. It can be set so that the analog stick sits above, below, left, or right of the central pad, and its distance from the pad can be adjusted. Further, it can rest on a flat surface or be attached to a tripod or AMPS mount for those who need to bring it closer to them or tilt it slightly.

Altogether, this will make the controller endlessly customizable from a hardware perspective. Beyond this, however, it also features lots of options in terms of software.

Program and save button mapping

On top of the controller itself, PlayStation has also begun to show off the customization UI. Players will use this to program their controller's mapping and save different profiles. From this interface, gamers will be able to assign almost any input to any button. This will include being able to turn some buttons off altogether, assigning multiple buttons to the same function, and setting buttons of their choice to toggle mode, meaning that they can be pressed to turn them on and act as if they're being held down until toggled off again.

This mapping can be used to create an incredible variety of setups that utilize a single Access Controller or take advantage of two controllers paired together. Players can even use up to two Access Controllers along with a standard controller — or use the Access Controller's 3.5 mm UX port to attach other devices.

Gamers aren't limited to a single button setup either. It's possible to create and save multiple profiles and switch between them at will. With this feature, fans can have different setups for different games or different players in the same household that have their needs.

No set release date

Despite being first revealed back in January, there's still no set launch date for the Access Controller yet. PlayStation has stated that more information is coming and that this will include news about the release, but nothing is firmly established at this time. Given that, as of May, PlayStation is still talking about more previews in the coming months, it's likely that gamers won't get their hands on the controller until the end of 2023 at the earliest.

While this may be frustrating for fans who are eager to use the Access Controller, it's encouraging to see PlayStation providing regular updates and seemingly making progress. Industry leaders like Bethesda director Todd Howard have said that the future of gaming will be in expanded accessibility, and PlayStation appears to be supporting this vision.

With the PlayStation Access Controller on the way, and Xbox's accessibility tech inspiring Nintendo to explore such a controller of its own, things are looking great for the movement to make gaming more inclusive.

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