Sony finally gives some details on PS5 backward compatibility

With just over a month to go until the debut of the PlayStation 5, we finally have an idea of how PlayStation 4 backward compatibility will work on the next-generation console. The good news is that Sony’s testing has fulfilled the company’s previous statements: “The overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 games are playable on PS5 consoles,” Sony said in a new page on the PlayStation support site.

Of course, that means that some PS4 games won’t work with the PS5. Thankfully, the current list on the support page is small, with just 10 titles designated as incompatible. And luckily, none of them are heavy hitters, although there’s no word on whether this list will change over time. Here’s the full lineup of games, which Sony says will be labeled as “Playable on: PS4 only” in the PlayStation Store:

  • Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume One
  • DWVR
  • Hitman Go: Definitive Edition
  • Joe’s Diner
  • Just Deal With It!
  • Robinson: The Journey
  • Shadow Complex Remastered
  • Shadwen
  • TT Isle of Man — Ride on the Edge 2
  • We Sing

It’s worth noting that Sony still hasn’t demonstrated any PS4 games running on PS5, so we don’t know what kind of performance to expect. This is in stark contrast to Microsoft, which has made backward compatibility a key pillar of the Xbox Series X and Series S experience.

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“Select PS4 games will benefit from the PS5 console’s Game Boost, which may make PS4 games run with a higher or smoother frame rate,” Sony says on the support page. The company cautions that “some PS4 games may exhibit errors or unexpected behavior when played on PS5 consoles,” and advises that you “try to boot and play your PS4 games on your PS5 console to see if you are happy with the play experience” before, say, buying any downloadable content for those games.

Sony’s support page also explains how backward compatibility will work on PS5, along with some caveats and limitations.

PS4 games will be playable “directly from a PS5 extended storage drive,” according to the support site. That may refer to a USB external drive plugged into the PS5, but it’s unclear. And the site doesn’t specify whether PS4 owners can plug an existing PS4-formatted USB drive straight into the PS5 and play any PS4 games sitting on it (which you can do with the Xbox Series X or Series S, if you have an external drive with Xbox One games on it). The support page does note that users can use the PS5’s Wi-Fi data transfer feature to move PS4 games and save files from a PS4 to a PS5. We’ve asked Sony for further details, and will update this article with any information we receive.

If you own physical PS4 games and a standard PS5 — not the discless Digital Edition — you’ll be able to pop those discs directly into the next-gen console and get going. (You’ll need to insert a particular disc every time you want to play the game in question.) The support page says that any digital PS4 games that you own can simply be downloaded from your “Games home” on the PS5.

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PS5 users will be able to play PS4 games with the PS5’s new DualSense controller as well as the PS4’s DualShock 4 gamepad, although the support page recommends using a DualShock 4 “for the best experience.” And Sony said earlier this year that officially licensed third-party PS4 peripherals, including controllers, racing wheels, arcade sticks, and flight sticks, will work on the PS5 with both PS5 games and PS4 games.

PlayStation VR titles will be compatible with PlayStation Move wands and the Aim Controller, although there’s an interesting limitation there: The PS5’s new camera peripheral (the HD Camera) is not compatible with PS4 titles. If you want to play existing PSVR games, you’ll have to hook up the PS4 camera (the PlayStation Camera). Doing so will require an adapter that Sony said previously “will be provided at no additional cost to PS VR users.”

The support page also notes that the Share menu — the options that you can pull up on a PS4 by pressing or holding down the Share button on a DualShock 4 — “cannot be displayed during PS4 gameplay on PS5 consoles.” Not to worry, though: You’ll see the PS5’s new “create menu” instead, and you’ll still be able to capture screenshots and gameplay videos while using backward compatibility on PS5.

Here are the default controls, according to Sony:

• Single press the create (DualSense) or SHARE button (DUALSHOCK4) to show the create menu

• Press and hold the create (DualSense) or SHARE button (DUALSHOCK4) to take a screenshot

• Double press the create (DualSense) or SHARE button (DUALSHOCK4) to start and stop video recording manually.

Three other PS4 features that won’t work on the PS5: the PS4 Second Screen mobile app, which lets you control your console with a smartphone; game companion apps, presumably like the one for Red Dead Redemption 2; PS4 tournaments; and in-game Live from PlayStation. We’ll have to test everything for ourselves when the PS5 debuts on Nov. 12.

Update: We’ve added details about storage and startup for backward-compatible games to this story.

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