The PS5 logo.

The PlayStation 5 introduces some big improvements over the previous generation, while maintaining compatibility with most PS4 games. Unfortunately “most” isn’t “all,” so here’s what you need to know about playing older games on your PS5.

Most PS4 Games Will Work on PS5

Sony has promised that 99% of PlayStation 4 titles will work on the PlayStation 5, including the top 100 games. This means almost every game you probably want to play will work out-of-the-box on the new console.

Two PlayStation 5's.

However, a small number of games won’t work on the PS5, and Sony’s storefront indicates these are “PS4 only” titles. Additionally, around 130 games “may exhibit errors” according to Sony. These will still work, but might have graphical glitches and bugs. Some PS4-era features, like online services, also might no longer work.

Push Square has put together a list of games that might have problems. It’s comprised mostly of older titles, with a few notable inclusions, like Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Mafia III, and the original Project CARS.

Some Older Titles Will See Big Performance Gains

Just like the Xbox Series X and S, the PlayStation 5 can boost the performance of some last-generation titles. Sony calls this feature Game Boost. It allows older titles to take advantage of the faster processor and more capable GPU in the PS5.

Without an update, most games will simply offer a smoother performance. Games will run at PS4 pro-optimized resolutions, rather than native 4K (the PS4 Pro used upscaling to hit its 4K targets, unlike Microsoft’s Xbox One X). Games that run with an unlocked frame rate (up to 60 frames) are now much more likely to hit that target.

Benefits will differ from game to game. In some cases, you might need to choose “Performance Mode” in a game’s options to see any improvement. Some titles, like Days Gone, run at dynamic 4K (with resolution scaling) at 60 frames per second. Others, like Ghost of Tsushima, have been patched to allow for higher frame rates only.

As games continue to be released cross-generation on both the PS4 and PS5, some titles will offer cross-buy benefits. This means you can buy a PS4 version and play it on PS5 later, with graphical upgrades and better performance. Some older games will receive these updates, as well.

Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and launch blockbuster Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, will all offer free upgrades on the PS5. Unfortunately, not all publishers have signed on for free upgrades. Titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and NBA 2K21 require the more expensive version (or an upgrade fee) for cross-buy to work.

Original PlayStation, PS2, and PS3 Games Won’t Work

Unfortunately, older games from classic PlayStation consoles won’t work natively on the PS5. If you want to play older titles you own, you’d better keep some vintage hardware in your entertainment unit.

Another option to play older titles on your PS5 is PlayStation Now. For $9.99 per month, you get access to a huge library of games that goes all the way back to the PS2 era. New games are also added every month, although any that have been on there for a while can be removed at any time.

The service uses streaming, rather than running code natively, to deliver older titles. This means your experience can vary wildly, depending on where you live and how good your internet connection is. Many new (PS4 and later) titles that are included in a PS Now membership can be downloaded rather than streamed.

PS Now offers an inelegant solution to playing the classics, for a price. The service is available in North America, most of Europe, and Japan.

Most PS4 Accessories Will Work (with a Catch)

Most PlayStation 4 accessories will work on your PS5 and with PS5 titles, including officially licensed specialty peripherals, like race wheels, arcade sticks, and flight controllers.

Controllers are slightly different, though. The DualShock 4 will work with the PlayStation 5, but only when playing older PS4 games. This is because the PS5 ships with the brand-new DualSense controller, which makes heavy use of haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and an integrated microphone.

You’ll have to buy a new DualSense controller if you want to play local multiplayer PS5 titles—you won’t be able to use any old DualShock 4 you have lying around.

A PS5 DualSense Controller.

Sony will also support the PlayStation VR (PSVR) on the PlayStation 5, including PS Move Motion Controllers and the PSVR Aim Controller. Headsets that work with the PS4, including the Platinum and Gold officially licensed Sony headsets, will work as normal on the PlayStation 5.

The PlayStation Camera, required for PSVR to work, will work on the PS5. However, according to Sony, it requires “a PlayStation Camera adapter that will be provided at no additional cost to PS VR users.” The company hasn’t yet announced how PSVR owners can get their hands on one, though.

For everything else, you’ll have to plug it in and see what happens or contact the manufacturer directly.

Consider Storing Older Titles on an External Drive

If you intend to play a lot of PS4 titles on your new PS5, consider getting an external drive to expand your storage cheaply. Since older titles were designed with slower mechanical hard drives in mind, they can be downloaded and stored on cheaper external drives.

You can then use what’s left of the PS5’s 825 GB internal SSD for PS5 games that use the much faster NVMe drive in the console. Unfortunately, unlike the Xbox Series, the PlayStation 5 doesn’t let you archive games on an external drive.

If you want to create more space on the PS5’s internal drive, you’ll have to delete games. You can’t simply move the data to another drive, and then copy it back when you want to play that title again. Many are hoping Sony will add this feature in a future firmware update.

Avoid the Digital Edition PS5 for Disc Support

If you’re excited to play your older games at higher resolutions and smoother frame rates, the PS5’s Game Boost feature should put a smile on your face. Just remember, if you’re upgrading from a PS4 and have a library of discs, you’ll need to get the physical-disc edition of the PlayStation 5 ($499), rather than the Digital Edition, as the latter lacks a disc drive.

Sony’s PS5 Digital Edition maintains compatibility with PS4 titles, but they have to be digital editions you’ve purchased from the PSN store. This is why we recommend you avoid all-digital consoles, whether you’re buying an Xbox or a PlayStation.

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He has covered a wide range of topics including Apple, security, productivity tips, gaming and more for publications like How-To Geek, Zapier, and MakeUseOf.
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