One of the more intriguing new features offered by the PS4 is its ability to stream a majority of its games to a PS Vita handheld unit. This feature mimics what Nintendo accomplished with the Wii U and it’s massive gamepad controller, but it actually offers a more robust mobile gaming experience. Rather than being restricted to a tight distance, the PS4 to PS Vita remote play function allows the handheld to play games from the PS4 from anywhere on the Internet, or within a local area network. The remote play feature essentially allows the TV to be freed up for homes with limited screens, as well as turning the Vita into a portable PS4 console of sorts.
Now that the PS4 has been unleashed upon the masses I had a chance to put its remote play features through their paces. There are a few things that need to happen for this function to work though. First off, the PS Vita needs to be updated to the latest firmware version, which will add a new app specifically for connecting to the PS4. Once that is installed you then have to pair the Vita with the PS4 by entering a string of characters to authenticate the devices with each other. On the PS4 remote play is turned on by default, but you can also choose if you want to connect to the PS4 directly, or through your local wifi connection. I left the default options intact, and experienced no issues, but you may have to play around with the settings depending on the power of your wifi connection and proximity to the PS4 console.
Once the two devices are paired together, connecting the Vita to the PS4 is as simple as clicking a button. The devices connect fairly quickly, unless you’re waking the PS4 from standby, which will add about a 30-45 second delay to the connection process while the console readies itself. It should also be noted that remote play can only be used on a PS4 console that is powered on, or in standby mode, it will not work if the console is fully turned off. When the Vita finally connects to the PS4 the console’s screen will be mirrored on the handheld’s. Nearly every function you can do on the console can also be pulled off on the Vita, including fast switching between apps and games. The speed of navigating on the Vita is fast and fluid, and in my testing I didn’t experience any real lag in moving around the UI.
Navigating menus isn’t much fun, so I fired up Killzone: Shadow Fall to see how well it played on the PS Vita. The game on the PS4 is a thing of beauty, so I was more than surprised to see how well its visuals translated to the Vita’s screen. The graphics looked clear and crisp, the colors were rich, and even some of the amazing lighting effects remained intact while playing it remotely. It should be noted that I was playing on my Vita, in my own home, on the same network as the PS4. I was able to walk to all locations of my house without the signal degrading to the point of unplayable, and I never lost the connection to the PS4.
Considering my access point and PS4 are both located in my basement, I was more than impressed with the remote play feature’s ability to provide a stable connection. I should also mention that my Internet speeds are solid but not amazing, giving me 30 mbps down, and 4.8 mbps up, so it’s not like I needed a fiber optic network to use the remote play feature without issue.
While playing Shadow Fall I didn’t experience any lag in gameplay, and all of my inputs were carried out immediately without delay. The rear touchscreen of the Vita provides virtual shoulder button controls to use, which feel odd at first, but in regards to Killzone: Shadow Fall they actually worked well, albeit not as fluid as using the Dualshock 4. While playing remotely you can still record gameplay and screenshots by hitting the “Select” button on the Vita, which surprised me and actually worked well (example). You can’t broadcast gameplay from the Vita, and you can’t take local screenshots, but the other sharing features native to the PS4 work while using remote play.
Thanks to the Vita’s dual analog sticks Shadow Fall controlled well, and actually felt very similar to the Mercenary experience that came out in September for the Vita platform. I could wholeheartedly see playing the game in full remotely if you had to do so. I’m not sure how well it would work over the Internet, meaning not from your home where the PS4 and local wifi network reside, but if you had to give up the TV to someone in your family, you could most definitely enjoy playing Killzone: Shadow Fall on the Vita. With that being said you can use the remote play feature from anywhere on the Internet, but you’ll need a robust connection, and your home network needs to be fairly fast and hard wired for the best results.
PS4/Vita remote play over the Internet via Vazzaroth
The verdict is still out on the long lasting uses of the PS4 and Vita’s remote play relationship, but as it stands now the function is quite useful, and works well. I have full confidence that a PS4 game could be played from anywhere in your own home on the Vita, and depending on the connection of a remote location, you should be able to play your library from the road as well. The PS4’s remote play feature has definitely breathed some new life into the PS Vita, so if you haven’t touched yours in a while, I highly recommend dusting it off and testing its merits with the PS4. Considering that the PS4 is only 1 day old, and that many more firmware revisions are bound to to be installed, there’s a great chance that the remote play feature will only get better and more useful. It’s definitely a feature worth showing off to your Xbox One friends, or anyone who enjoys the wonders of modern technology.
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