Community tool DS4Windows already has early support for the PS5 DualSense controller

DualSense triggers
(Image credit: Sony)

The PlayStation 5 doesn't launch until November 12, but that hasn't stopped the savvy programmers behind popular tool DS4Windows from supporting the new DualSense controller. Sony's new controller shipped out to some folks early, and someone's already gotten the controller working with DS4Windows over Bluetooth.

For a bit more context, the DualSense controller does sort of work with Windows out of the box. It uses the DirectInput API, which some games support, but most do not; the more modern XInput Microsoft designed for the Xbox controller is much more common. You can already use Steam's controller configurator to get the DualSense working on PC, but that's only useful if you're playing games on Steam (or add them to your Steam library).

DS4Windows is an open source tool designed to make the DualShock 4 controller play nice with Windows. It lets you control the lightbar on the DS4 and make more specific tweaks than Steam's configurator, and makes it easy to use the DS4 in non-Steam games, too. Over the weekend, someone posted a fork of DS4Windows on Github that "supports connecting to the DualSense only over Bluetooth connection." There are some caveats: the build won't work for DualShock 4 controllers, because it's "basically a hacky-implementation." It does support the controller's new mic mute button, but not many other significant features: the haptics, the lightbar, multitouch on the touchpad, controlling the lightbar, or seeing a battery percentage readout.

That's pretty limited, but still gets you about the same functionality as you'd get through Steam, so it's still potentially useful. And it seems very likely there's more to come in the next few weeks. In a Github thread discussing the DualSense, DS4Windows' programmer Ryochan7 says they have long term plans for a new tool that supports the DualSense and more: 

"The future plan is to deprecate DS4Windows and use a different mapper base for a possible DualSense mapper application... Currently, I am working on a different mapper mapping against the Switch Pro controller. No mapper that supports the Switch Pro controller can really do what I want so it is being used as the main test case; Steam Input is probably the closest. I am attempting to make the mapper base more device agnostic hoping that it will be easier to support various devices in the future; many portions of DS4Windows depend on aspects specific to the DS4 hardware. Some progress has been made but nothing has been made with general users in mind."

Ryochan7 came back a couple days later to say that they may add "some initial support for the DualSense controller in DS4Windows before finalizing a different mapper" as a stop-gap, so I'd say odds are good that DS4Windows gets a DualSense update not long after launch day. The big question, for me, is how well PC games will be able to tap into those new haptics.

For more on the DualSense, check out my review of the PlayStation 5 from a PC gamer's perspective, and this face-off between the new PlayStation and Xbox controllers.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).