The DualSense controller has been given a firmware update as part of yesterday’s PlayStation 5 system software update (to the very catch version number 21.01-03.00.00.38). With PS5s around the globe also prompting users to update their gamepad, many will be wondering what on Earth this update does – nothing was mentioned in the patch notes, but we have the answer!
One of the biggest changes is for how the DualSense rumbles when playing PS4 games in backward compatibility. The effect is now much closer to the DualShock 4’s rumble motors, as opposed to a flat smartphone buzzing that we had previously in PS4 games.
To get the DualSense firmware update, simply update your PlayStation 5 to the latest system software – you will be prompted or can find this in Settings > System > System Software > System Software Update and Settings. The next time the console boots and a DualSense controller is connected, you will be prompted to hook it up with a cable by a screen that reads:
A new version of the wireless controller device software is available.
Your console won’t need to restart for this update.
Connect your controller using the USB cable and then select [Update Now]
You can dismiss the prompt, but the console will remind you every 24 hours.
Whether it’s purely down to the DualSense firmware change or in combination with the PS5 system update, we haven’t been able to confirm, but either way, this is a great change for people who are playing PS4 games that do not take full advantage of the DualSense controller’s new haptic motors.
As we explained in our DualSense controller review:
It seems to just take each burst of DualShock rumble and outputs it as a half strength buzz in the LRA motors. You get a directional left and right buzz in the grips, but not the nuance that developers learnt how to create for the DualShock 4, where rumble is generated through asymmetrical weights spinning and a single quick on-off pulse could create a gentle nudge compared to a full throttle rumble.
With this new firmware update that effect is much improved. It’s no longer a flat buzz, but a rapid sine wave of rumbling that feels closer to the DualShock 4. The effect depends very much on the game that you are playing. Where GT Sport is a marked improvement for the sustained vibrations of acceleration and riding the kerbs, it’s more subtle for Monster Hunter World. It feels like it rumbles more than it used to, but where an explosive switch axe attack still doesn’t really feel like a huge explosion in your hands – the effect could still be much stronger.
Still, this is a great step forward for PS4 games on PS5, and we look forward to Sony continuing to refine and improve the effect in future.