When gamers plug in their PlayStation 5s for the first time November 12, they’ll find Astro’s Playroom preinstalled, and according to its director, Nicolas Doucet, it may be the perfect introduction to the console’s new features.
Famitsu spoke to Doucet about the new platformer, developed by ASOBI Team. A sequel to the popular PSVR title Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Astro’s Playroom sees the return of the titular robot in a family-friendly romp through four distinct worlds. Each level features different aspects of the new DualSense controller.
Doucet mentioned that his team began developing with a very early prototype of the controller. They created about eighty different tech demos focused on small components, like the feel of a character walking on grass or shooting a gun. These smaller elements were eventually consolidated into the four distinct levels of the final game, using Astro as the playable mascot.
Over the two years of Astro’s Playroom’s development, Doucet and ASOBI Team acted as intensive beta testers for the PS5 controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. “I shared those opinions with the hardware team and sent them to other worldwide studios,” he said. “DualSense received a lot of feedback and was getting better and better.”
The combined effect of the controller’s nuanced vibrations, motion controllers, adaptive triggers, and onboard speaker create “a very natural feeling,” he added. Coordination between the audio designers and programmers key to perfecting each sensation.
In one level Astro will have a jet pack, which is flown by manipulating both triggers – pull the right trigger to control the right thruster’s lift, for instance, and feel it rattling in your hands. Another powerup is a “Monkey Suit,” where the triggers are used to climb walls. Not only will players use the corresponding trigger to climb, but they will feel resistance in the controller, giving a sense of the rock beneath Astro’s hands.
Doucet estimates Astro’s Playroom will take 4-5 hours to complete, but Sony has also emphasized collectibles and family replayability. He promised “many hidden homages to the 25-year history of the PlayStation” throughout the game, and a special reward for fans who complete everything. (The blue squares of the PS2’s launch screen can be seen in the background during the game’s reveal trailer, for example.)
Thanks to its unique status as launch title and beta-testing tool for the DualSense controller, Astro’s Playroom sounds like an essential playthrough for those lucky enough to score a PS5 next month.