DualSense firmware update improves rumble in PS4 backward compatibility games

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.

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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.

The DualSense firmware update has improved rumble in PS4 games.

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.

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7 Comments

  1. I’m sure it doesn’t apply to most people, but the DualSense firmware only gets updated when you turn the PS5 on, or restart it. Then it asks you to connect it with a cable and update (which takes seconds), or delay it 24 hours.

    If you’ve got more than 1 DualSense, it won’t do them all. Rebooting and using the second should get that one to update. But doing the first then connecting the second apparently doesn’t trigger the update.

    May be useful to know if you’ve got 2 controllers and mainly use one of them, keeping the second for whenever you’re playing with someone else.

    • FWIW, I didn’t need to reboot to update the second controller – it promped me (again) when I switched that one on. (I don’t remember but I may have already connected it with the cable.)

  2. My second Dualsense prompted me to update it just by pressing the PS button without having to restart the PS5.

    • I was just going on what people have said elsewhere. Maybe it doesn’t always try and update unless you’ve rebooted. Maybe it always does if you’ve plugged a cable in.

      • I updated the console it told me to update the Dualsense I did,then later thought I better update the other Dualsense pressed the PS button without a cable attached and it said to update so plugged in cable and did so,that’s just how it went for me 👍

  3. Maybe this was always the case, but I didn’t notice it until yesterday. The PS5 said it will lessen the tension on the triggers unless the controller mic is muted. Is it possible it also decreases the rumble?

    • That’s always been the case. It reduces the vibrations if you’re using the controller mic, for fairly obvious reasons. The vibrations can get quite loud, and you don’t want the mic picking up all that noise.

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