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How to upgrade PS4 games on your PS5 for free

You can upgrade Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Mortal Kombat 11 and other games to shiner next-gen versions.

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mortal-kombat-11-ultimate

Mortal Kombat 11 is one of the PS4 games you can upgrade to the PS5 version.

Warner Bros.

The majority of PlayStation 4 games are playable on PlayStation 5 via the new Sony console's backward compatibility feature, but a few publishers are letting you upgrade PS4 games to the shinier PS5 versions for free. This lets you play many with 4K dynamic resolution at 60 frames per second and delivers shorter loading times, making for a smoother gaming experience.

The PS5 is available now but has been going in and out of stock at retailers. The digital-only model costs $400, and the one with a disc drive is $500.

Read more: PS5 and Xbox Series X, Series S restock coming to Walmart at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday

Your game upgrades won't happen automatically or through a typical game update, so it's easy to accidentally keep playing the PS4 version of a game on your new PS5. You have to go to the game page on the PlayStation Network and choose to upgrade to the PS5 version -- that'll download the extra data needed for the next-gen features.

Read more: PS5 review: Sony built a space-age game console for your next-gen dreams

You can also upgrade to PS5 versions if you have a physical PS4 game, as long as you bought the PS5 with a disc drive. You'll always need to use the PS4 disc to play the PS5 version; upgrading doesn't get you a free digital copy of the game. You'll still download the PS5 update from the PSN, but you won't need a PS5-specific disc -- your PS4 one will become an authenticator.

However, I tried this with an Assassin's Creed Valhalla PS4 disc and the upgrade option didn't appear in the store -- this issue is apparently only affecting people in European regions and applies to Watch Dogs Legion PS4 discs too. On Nov. 23, Ubisoft confirmed via email that it's investigating and followed up on Nov. 30, with a tweet acknowledging the problem. 

"We are aware players in the UK are experiencing issues upgrading physical versions of some Ubisoft games from PS4 to PS5," it wrote. "We're working to resolve this, and can confirm anyone experiencing this issue will still be eligible for their free upgrade. Stay tuned for more information."

By contrast, I upgraded my digital PS4 copy of Mortal Kombat 11 to the PS5 version instantly.

If you opted for the digital-only PS5 and have a disc, you're out of luck. There are a few more limitations and caveats:

  • Some PS5 versions of current PS4 games aren't out yet.
  • Next-gen versions will be bigger files, so they'll take up more precious hard drive space.
  • You'll end up with a fresh list of trophies (each version's list is separate).
  • A few games' saves won't transfer. 
  • Some game upgrades are available only in cross-gen bundles or special editions.
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Spider-Man: Miles Morales is one of the games you can upgrade.

PS5 Performance Mode; screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

Free upgrades you can get right now

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Some upgrades will require you to buy a specific (more expensive) version of the game:

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Cyberpunk 2077's next-gen upgrade will undoubtedly be breathtaking.

CD Projekt Red

Upcoming games with free upgrades

This list will be updated as more upgrades become available or are announced.