How Do PS4 Controllers Work On PS5?
The PlayStation 5's backwards compatibility supports most PlayStation 4 games, and it'll work with your old PS4 controller, too--but not in all cases.
The PlayStation 5 comes with a brand new controller in the DualSense, which comes with a bunch of new features that are supported by the console's launch games, like Astro's Playroom and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales. But Sony's new system is also highly backwards compatible with the PS4--not just its games, but its accessories, too. So how do PS4's DualShock 4 controllers work on the PS5? Pretty much the way you'd expect, but not in all cases.
Like with the PS4, you can pair DualShock 4 controllers with your PS5 and use them wirelessly via Bluetooth. The process is the same as with Sony's last console: you use a microUSB cable to plug the controller into the PS5 to sync it. Once you've done that, the DualShock 4 will control the PS5 user interface, allowing you to page around, use apps, and launch games. But it's with games that the DualShock 4's limitations arise.
As Sony has previously said, a PS4 DualShock 4 controller will work with PS4 games. That's good, because there are a whole bunch of them that are backwards-compatible at launch. So in the case of titles like Ghost of Tsushima, Days Gone, Horizon Zero Dawn, and any others that work on your PS5, the DualShock 4 will control them as usual. If you like your old controller, you can use it to play your old games.
You can't, however, use the DualShock 4 controller to play PS5 games--for those, you'll need the PS5's DualSense. It makes sense: The DualSense carries a lot of extra functionality that the DualShock 4 doesn't have, like enhanced haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. (Check out our impressions of the DualSense right here.) The DualShock 4 can't handle those requirements, so it doesn't work.
Since you can control the PS5 interface with a DualShock 4, you can go so far as to launch a PS5 game with the controller. You'll quickly get a message noting that you'll need a DualSense controller to play the game, though. Once you get to the start screen of Spider-Man: Miles Morales or Astro's Playroom, for instance, the DualShock 4 stops working and you'll need to switch.
Still, there are a lot of backwards-compatible games that work with the PS5, so you could still get some use out of your PS4 controller. You don't have to use it, however--the DualSense works with all backwards-compatible PS4 games.