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PS5 is getting a major new accessibility feature

Second assist controller heads up next system software update

A front-facing view of the PS5 DualSense controller Photo: Henry Hargreaves for Polygon
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Alongside the release of a new accessibility controller, PlayStation 5 is getting a major accessibility feature this year: the ability to use a second controller as an assist controller, similar to Xbox’s Copilot mode.

The assist controller feature is part of a system software update that has just gone into beta testing and will be released globally “later this year.” Also included in the update is support for Dolby Atmos audio devices and support for larger replacement storage drives, the ability to search your game library, and a volume control for the console’s beep sound.

The new assist controller feature allows two controllers to be used together to control the PS5 as if a single controller was being used. This can be used to create new control setups for people who have trouble using a standard controller, as well as for two people to play together collaboratively — for example, a parent helping a child with a difficult aspect or section of a game. It appears to work exactly the same as Xbox’s Copilot mode, which was released in 2017; after lagging behind for a few years, PlayStation appears determined to catch up with its rival in the accessibility space.

Another accessibility feature of the new system update is the addition of haptic feedback for the system user interface, which gives an alternative form of feedback to sound effects when navigating the PS5’s menus and receiving notifications.

Elsewhere in the update, the PS5’s 3D audio capability has been expanded to support Dolby Atmos HDMI devices such as soundbars and home theater systems. And if you want to expand your PS5’s storage, you can now do so with an M.2 SSD up to 8 TB in capacity (up for the previous 4 TB limit). That’s quite a lot of games!

Perhaps the simplest yet biggest quality-of-life update in the new system software is the ability to search for games within your game library. Other new features and improvements include the power to mute or change the volume of the PS5’s beep sound, improved Game Help, and some social enhancements, including a streamlined way of joining friends’ game sessions.

The system software beta is limited to invited participants, but a full release shouldn’t be too far off. While Sony hasn’t dated the update beyond saying it will be out later this year, it typically takes between one and two months for a major system update — like the last one, which introduced Discord voice chat and wireless controller updates — to emerge from beta testing and see release.

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