Project Leonardo for PS5: everything you need to know about Sony's accessibility controller kit
Sony's PS5 accessibility controller has been revealed. Here's the lowdown on Project Leonardo
The latest codenamed kit to come out of Sony HQ, Project Leonardo is an all-in-one PS5 accessibility controller designed to remove the physical barriers of gaming and help those with disabilities more easily and comfortably play the console.
Announced during CES 2023, Sony said Project Leonardo has been “built to address common challenges faced by many players with limited motor control, including difficulty holding a controller for long periods, accurately pressing small clusters of buttons or triggers, or positioning thumbs and fingers optimally on a standard controller”.
The controller kit wraps all the gubbins of the standard PS5 controller in a highly configurable new casing, with plenty of customization options to adapt it to your needs. It works in tandem with other third-party accessibility accessories and, if all goes well, should bring the best PS5 games to an even bigger audience. Hopefully, Sony’s flagship system will be more accessible than ever.
If you’ve ever struggled to use Sony’s DualSense controller due to a disability, it’s likely Project Leonardo will be one of the best PS5 accessories you can buy when it releases.
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Project Leonardo release date 📆
Sony hasn’t yet announced a release date for Project Leonardo. Despite still using an internal codename, the project looks to be fairly far along its development cycle, with Sony already having revealed its design and feature set.
We wouldn’t be surprised if it appeared sometime later this year. Following the release of the PSVR 2 and the PS5 DualSense Edge, 2023 could end up being a surprisingly busy year for PlayStation hardware.
Project Leonardo price 💰
We’re still in the dark when it comes to the cost of Project Leonardo but a few clues hint at a ballpark retail price.
Microsoft’s rival Adaptive Controller retailed for $99.99 and while Sony’s hardware usually goes for a little more, we’d expect a similar price tag here. If the PS5 price hike last year is suggestive of things to come, Project Leonardo will likely top the $100 mark.
Add to that the eye-watering price of the PS5 DualSense Edge – a whopping $199.99 – and it’s possible this accessibility controller kit could carve a similarly sizable hole in your wallet.
Project Leonardo customization 👐
At the top of the list of Project Leonardo’s accessibility features is its configuration. The controller’s single analog stick can be swapped out for those of different heights and textures, and its buttons changed for a variety of shapes and sizes. The idea is for players to mold the gamepad to their liking and physical requirements.
“Players can use these components to craft a wide array of control layouts,” Sony says, “And the distance of the analog stick from the gamepad can be adjusted to suit the player’s preference. These components allow players to find a configuration that works for their strength, range of motion, and particular physical needs.”
More common customization features will also be available, including the option to remap buttons. Multiple buttons can be mapped to the same input, or multiple inputs mapped to the same button for those players who may struggle to press several at once. Settings can be stored in up to three control profiles, too, which can be switched between on the fly.
Project Leonardo design 🎨
Like the Xbox Adaptive Controller before it, Sony’s Project Leonardo sits flat, meaning players can rest it on a table or wheelchair tray. It can also be secured to AMPS mounts or tripods and oriented 360 degrees for the most comfortable use.
Most noticeable is the controller’s split design. Each Leonardo has only one analog stick, allowing you to position the thumbsticks of two controllers as close together or as far apart as you find comfortable. Ergonomically, that’s fantastic but does likely mean you’ll have to shell out on two controllers to play most games. We’re hoping Sony will price the gamepads with that not-so-small caveat in mind.
“Our team tested over a dozen designs with accessibility experts, looking for approaches that would help address key challenges to effective controller use,” said Sony designer So Morimoto. “We finally settled on a ‘split controller’ design that allows near free-form left/right thumbstick repositionability, can be used without needing to be held, and features very flexible button and stick cap swapping.”
Project Leonardo compatibility ✅
Although Project Leonardo is pitched as an out-of-the-box PS5 accessibility gamepad, it’s been designed to pair with additional Leonardos and the PS5’s standard DualSense controller. You’ll be able to use up to two Leonardo gamepads alongside one DualSense, which Sony hopes will allow “players to mix and match devices to fit their particular gameplay needs, or to play collaboratively with others”.
It’s particularly useful for those players who need some assistance gaming. You can happily use a Leonardo or two to play while a chum sits next to you with a DualSense, ready to take control of your character if you get stuck.
Additionally, four 3.5mm ports will let you connect third-party, specialty switches or accessibility accessories for even greater configurability. They can be remapped just like any other button.
Updated: March 14, 2023