If you’ve noticed that your PlayStation 5 DualSense controller vibes feel a little better with PlayStation 4 games these days, no, it’s not just you.
Sony released a major system software update for the PS5 in mid-April. If you have a PS5, you might remember that after the patch the console asked you to plug in the controller to update its firmware. At the time, Sony didn’t give out any information on what the update did, but we finally have some details now, thanks to The Last of Us Part 2 co-director of the game Kurt Margenau.
On the heels of this week’s PS5 performance update for the 2020 game – which doubled the frame rate to 60fps – Margenau noted on Friday that returning gamers “might notice that the ‘haptic felt better’. The reason, Margenau explained in a Twitter thread, is that the DualSense firmware update has changed the haptic feedback when the controller is used to play PS4 titles. PS4 games played on PS5 with a DualSense should now feel closer to their original experience with a PS4 and its DualShock 4 gamepad.
Margenau said he had the chance to give feedback to the Sony DualSense team “a few months ago”, to “help improve the timing, intensity and ‘texture’ of haptics” when people use the controller with PS4 games.
A few months ago, I was able to give my feedback to the Sony DualSense team to help improve the timing, intensity and “texture” of haptics in backward compatibility (BC) mode to better achieve the feeling we created for the original DualShock 4 for our games.
– Kurt Margenau (@kurtmargenau) May 21, 2021
Polygon staff members noticed the haptic mismatch when the PS5 launched last November, saying that “some PS4 gaming vibration systems seem clearly designed with the DualShock 4 in mind – because they l ‘were. ” We noted that the force feedback sensation was not an “individual transition from DualShock 4 to DualSense”.
Correcting the disparity was complicated, according to Margenau, due to the mechanical differences between the controllers.
The DualShock 4 controller vibrates with two different sized weights that rotate inside. The DualSense has two weights that move forward and backward, and can “express frequency and amplitude with extremely high fidelity and low latency (almost like a speaker),” explained Margenau.
“The controller firmware in the DualSense therefore has to receive the ‘old’ signals intended to run a motor (which has a much higher latency) and emulate the resulting FEELING in the controller using a completely different mechanical method.” he said on twitter.
Also, this “translation” between the old and the new controller occurs entirely in the DualSense firmware – the PS4 game code does not change at all when running on a PS5. It’s almost magic! Except no, because it takes a ton of work.