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Opinion

Remote Play And The PS4's Second Screen Experience

Remote Play isn’t exactly a new feature for the next generation of PlayStation. The PS3 and even PSP supported it, allowing you to display your big screen on the small device via streaming, listen to music, use TV services and even play some games, providing the developers built it into the system.

That just shows how ahead of their time in terms of thinking Sony were, and now, with PS4 Remote Play, they’ve shown once again how they can always be one or two steps ahead of competitors. You’re able to play any PS4 game you want (unless the camera is required), at any time, from your PS Vita, though on testing video services such as BBC iPlayer didn’t work. It’s really great when it manages to hold up – almost all of the time if you’re on the same network – and it essentially streams a duplicate of what’s on screen to the handheld, along with unlocking it’s potential as a controller.

That means you might not have to lay down the extra cash for another DualShock 4 so soon. Obviously it can’t quite match the DS4 in terms of comfort, and there’s no motion-tracking lightbar or use of controller exclusive audio, but it’s definitely a suitable substitute if you aren’t averse to playing games on a PS Vita normally. Since the system is naturally missing a few buttons, the back triggers and stick pushes are now mapped to the back touchpad, which works surprisingly well, with the screen working as the DS4’s touchpad. So, this even means that you’ll be able to play local multiplayer or co-op on games such as FIFA or Knack.

Or, you could just play Killzone Shadow Fall from the comfort of your bed.

RemotePlayVita-IL

That’s the amazing thing to me – I woke up very tired two days ago, ready to join an American friend on Killzone’s multiplayer. While there were still some Killzone-side server issues causing it not to work, I still managed to do all of this without moving much more than an arm out of bed to grab my Vita. And now, before I go to sleep, I’m playing Knack, Killzone, Resogun, even Call of Duty, without having to turn off the TV in the living room and get ready for bed once I’m done.

It’s ultimately lazy. You’ll find yourself debating whether it’s really worth moving just to get that big screen, comfortable controller experience, and ask yourself if there’s really much point when the Vita’s OLED screen and buttons will do you just fine. It’s the same idea as the Wii U essentially, but expands much further in your house – I can’t play on the GamePad from the living room to my bedroom.

The Vita doesn’t offer quite the same visual experience as the PS4, as the stream to the screen is somewhat compressed and looks like a bit of a lower resolution. This means it’s not ideal for fast-paced and busy games such as Resogun, but it’s fine – perfect in fact – for a quick game of FIFA or a bit of Knack. Some games look much better than their Vita counterparts, and it really makes some handheld games feel pointless in a world where we’re surrounded by WiFi.

Unfortunately, I had issues testing it over WiFi, trying it out at a pub and also home WiFi on the other side of Scotland, but could only get it working on the same network. At first I thought it may be due to a slow connection, but soon found that this was not the case, and couldn’t really troubleshoot what was going wrong. It’s a shame, but we’ll hopefully be able to test that soon and give you a verdict on if it works just as well.

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Still, there’s some brilliant thought to the overall design of the feature. It won’t turn on your TV alongside your PS4 if you’re using HDMI-CEC, and vice versa for turning off. It’s a really solid start for a technology which will clearly evolve over time. And while some may say that it kills the point in the Vita, it truly revives it, expanding the library to all of Sony’s future games (well, minus GT6) rather than just handheld exclusives.

That’s not where the second screen experience ends, though – even if you don’t own a Vita, Sony are making sure that you’re getting in on the second screen action, providing you do own a smartphone. That comes in the form of both the official PlayStation App and game companion apps such as Knack’s Quest. We’ll start with that.

We’ve went over all of the features of Knack’s Quest before in our Mobile Watch feature. If you don’t like clicking things that say Mobile Watch, then basically it’s Bejewelled (or Candy Crush) but with a Knack skin, which allows you to gain in-app XP and unlock relics and parts of gadgets for use in the PS4 version of the game.

After a quick sign in to PSN, it automatically and sleekly picks up your mobile device and the app providing you’re connected to the same WiFi network. From there, all you have to do is head into the pause menu of Knack and click on an item to quickly transfer it into you’re game. It’s a small part of the game, but definitely a help and another thing to do for when you’re bored on the bus or waiting at the doctor’s surgery.

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The official PlayStation App is a bit more robust in its capabilities, granting you a lot of the PSN experience that you’ll find on PS4, including What’s New, your friends list, messages and notifications, and a degree of control of the PS4 itself, allowing you to turn on the system before you sit down in front of the TV and even control it with a gesture based input scheme.

Second screen features for future supported games can show up on here – as well as the PS4 Link app on the Vita – but you’re also able to enter text on your PS4 via the app, essentially turning your phone into the most expensive keyboard peripheral in the world. What’s more is the fantastic ability to buy things from the PS Store and have them download on your PS4 while it sits on standby under your TV.

These features might have a long way to go, and Remote Play certainly seems as though it’s the only one that’s properly ready right now, but they’re a good idea of where Sony is aiming to take things with the PS4. Hopefully they’ll simply add to the games, rather than be forced in and feel as though they’re hindering your experience, but only time will tell for that.

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36 Comments
  1. tonycawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    It genuinely is an exciting prospect. Just the fact that I can carry on playing when “I’m a celebrity” or some other such shite comes on telly, without pissing off the Mrs too much. But then there’s also a whole world of other capabilities, like you said with the smart phone integration, and a lot of this won’t even have been realised yet.
    How many online multiplayer games will allow you to have the map on your phone while you’re playing? That’d get rid of the point of the rubbish mini map in the bottom corner!
    Things like the little radio communication jobbie in metal gear, that could all be done on the phone. There’s a million and one ideas and I just really hope they use them.
    For now though, I’ll be more than happy to just carry on playing my games when the TV isn’t available!

    Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 15:13.
    • jimmyj
      Member
      Since: Jan 2014

      I agree. I happened to pick up a PS4 that was bundled with a Vita and a second DualShock4 controller. I wasn’t sure I’d keep the Vita, but I’ve found myself playing it as much or more than the PS4. Not to say the PS4 isn’t the best–it is; it’s the king of this console generation by a large margin. But the Vita has some really great titles, and can now play your PS3/PS4 games. My only regret is that I built up most of my trophies/gamerpoints/game licenses on my Xbone 360, since it was kind of the lead SKU for multiplats for a few years until Sony caught up. But I bought and played every Sony/PS3 exclusive, so I’ve still got a pretty good collection.

      I just discovered today, what this article mentions, which is that you can use the Vita touchpad to enter text on the PS4 text input screens. This is a really great feature if you’ve got a Vita. I’m hoping Sony will release a keyboard attachment for the Dualshock4 like they did for the Dualshock3 (and as MS did for the 360); it makes entering text so much faster. And now, with PS4 being the only console to have real cross-platform play with PC counterparts, it would be a huge help (the PC gamers communicate more in text rather than voice, and I’ve always preferred text chat.

      Lastly, while Remote Play is awesome, I think Second Screen is really going to be the killer app. Take for example, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Director’s Cut. Second screen was broken on the 360 (and I heard on the PS3 as well), but it was lead SKU for the Wii U. You can do so many things… for example, when hacking a terminal, instead of using the controller, you can use the second screen/touchpad. It’s much more immersive. I can’t wait for the PS4 version of the next Deus Ex, and will be using the Vita for hacking, maps, etc. Assassin’s Creed is another good example, not of the Vita, but of the DualShock4–using the touchpad on the controller to navigate the map and do other things. Not to mention the exclusive physics engine only found on the PS4.

      One other question: are there currently any games that use the second screen feature on the PS4? Knack was mentioned; does it use second screen? I can’t wait to see more games using the second screen feature. Maybe Infamous: Second Son will use it.

      All in all, the Vita was well worth the cost (in the bundle), including the 64GB memory stick (a bit overpriced, but well worth it)

      Comment posted on 14/01/2014 at 19:19.
  2. blackredyellow
    Member
    Since: Mar 2009

    I was so impressed with this feature. It doesn’t feel like something tacked on, but actually a useful and pleasing way to access your games.

    The other night my wife was watching some damn awful show on TV, and wanted me in the same room for company… I fired up the PS4 remotely and sat playing FIFA 14 via remote play. Superb.

    Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 15:17.
    • Youles
      Member
      Since: Feb 2011

      Was there any lag mate?

      I can’t really see me using this much at home, as I have a separate TV for my PS3/4 anyway, but if I could play some PS4 games at work over Wi-Fi then that’s exciting, although for me would perhaps make other Vita games redundant since I mainly use my Vita in a Wi-Fi area.

      Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 15:33.
      • Blair Inglis
        hisnameisblair
        Since: May 2009

        No lag at all. Over the same network, at least.

        Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 15:40.
      • blackredyellow
        Member
        Since: Mar 2009

        Nope. As Blair said, NO lag. Just like playing on the PS4.

        The visuals are also first class!

        Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 15:48.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        Cheers guys. Wow, that’s impressive. It was good when I tried Ico HD on PS3 on Vita, but even the occasional lag was enough to cause death, and subsequently ruin the experience. Perhaps I will use this then, maybe when I’ve got to be “sociable” when we have guests/in-laws over and it’s too rude to go upstairs to play PS4 ;)

        Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 15:59.
      • blackredyellow
        Member
        Since: Mar 2009

        Haha, PERFECT for that. Glad I’m not the only one ;)

        Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 18:17.
  3. lambchop
    Member
    Since: Aug 2013

    I did use this on Tokyo Jungle from my PS3 which work pretty well up in the bedroom. Unfortunately our toilet is through too many walls.

    Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 15:20.
    • lambchop
      Member
      Since: Aug 2013

      I may have to look at moving the router ;)

      Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 15:21.
      • Moshbag
        Member
        Since: Nov 2011

        Or the toilet…

        Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 15:41.
  4. 3shirts
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    This feature alone is driving me towards a Vita. If there is a price drop, that’ll be it, I’ll buy one. In fact I’m already scouring eBay.

    I don’t have much use for a portable system but remote play is just too cool.

    Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 15:22.
    • Blair Inglis
      hisnameisblair
      Since: May 2009

      They’re £99 at HMV if you’re quick!

      Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 15:41.
  5. Broonba
    Member
    Since: Mar 2009

    I agree. I think Sony is onto a winner here, as long as the remote play and second screen tech gets used by more than 1 or 2 developers.

    Also, regarding the remote play via wi-fi. I’m sure that I read (on TSA I think) that it would only work over the same wi-fi connection and not at the pub, on the train etc…but I could be wrong.

    Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 15:52.
    • Blair Inglis
      hisnameisblair
      Since: May 2009

      No, the functionality for over the internet is there – it just wasn’t working for me somehow.

      Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 16:09.
    • tonycawley
      Pint! Pint!
      Since: Feb 2009

      It said on the FAQ that your router by default is unlikely to allow the Vita into your network from outside. There’s some settings somewhere to fiddle with that gets it to work but I’m useless with all these ports and DMZ nonsense.

      Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 16:17.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        I hope someone does an idiot’s guide for people like me, otherwise it’s unlikely I’ll get it to work outside of my home, which would be a real shame as it’s such a good feature.

        Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 16:23.
  6. gazzagb
    Master of speling mitakse
    Since: Feb 2009

    Shame that it doesn’t work on anything but the same network, it kinda makes the feature pointless for me.

    Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 16:01.
    • Andrewww
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      Same here, this only really makes sense for me if I can use it elsewhere.

      Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 21:34.
  7. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Good read, i’m wondering if your Nat settings for each device would have any bearing on how well Remote Play works over the internet.

    Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 16:26.
  8. PA_Kid
    Member
    Since: May 2012

    In the US I have been using remote play regularly from my Verizon 4G hotspot. If I have a strong tower/connection it works just as well for me as sitting in the living room not 10 ft from my PS4.

    Not sure why everyone keeps having issues but I think it is more about the user’s network setup than an issue with remote play.

    Just last night I was sitting in the car with the kids in a southlake tx grocery store parking lot doing some collectibles hunting in DCUO while the wife grabbed some last minute turkey day items.

    If people can get the settings straight, Remote play outside of the house is amazing.

    Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 17:37.
    • DividSmythe
      Member
      Since: May 2012

      This it’s why I upgraded to 4g I can play Ps4 at work. Showing all Xbox fanboys whom I work with the power of Ps4.

      Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 18:07.
      • PA_Kid
        Member
        Since: May 2012

        Yeah, heh. I have done that twice at work now. Showed off the remote play function to a PS guy and 360 guy to try and lure them to the PS4 by showing them remote play. Suffice it to say that both were really impressed.

        To be fair it isn’t perfect, but it’s not the non – starter that Blair and Kotaku would have you believe as soon as you walk outside the house. When I am in a moving car I can occasionally lose the connection completely as I go tower to tower and the signal fluctuates. But think about that for a second… While the wife is driving to the food store I can get it a quick round of Warframe, DCUO, Knack, or Killzone. In. The. Car. :)

        Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 18:26.
      • DividSmythe
        Member
        Since: May 2012

        How much PING do you get? I know this a main problem on latency.

        Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 18:30.
      • PA_Kid
        Member
        Since: May 2012

        I get between 17-60 ms on my ping and then 17-25 down and usually 6-15 up.

        I just wanted to mention it to point out that remote play works. Ideally you’ll be using it on a wifi where you are at which should be much better or more stable but if it can work through a mobile phone I think it shows that this thing is no joke.

        Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 21:59.
      • DividSmythe
        Member
        Since: May 2012

        Thanks that’s around my speed test settings. My ping is pretty much the top end of that but it’s a very new network dip it can improve. I know Wi-Fi will be best method it’s just good when I can use it on 4g

        Comment posted on 29/11/2013 at 09:36.
    • salvodaze
      Member
      Since: Dec 2012

      Yeah but, isn’t that like “Hello cancer”? Sure we get a lot of exposure already, but I doubt that I’d ever play over 3/4G. Don’t mind me though, I’m a little too worried about radiation.

      Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 19:44.
      • DividSmythe
        Member
        Since: May 2012

        Not really for me because my family ask die from cancer any way. So it’s not going to up my inevitable death from big C.

        Comment posted on 29/11/2013 at 09:38.
  9. DividSmythe
    Member
    Since: May 2012

    I know I’ll love remote play as a Foster carer I can’t play assassin’s creed. While they are watching kids programmes I can go around do missions and things. :-)

    Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 18:04.
  10. ron_mcphatty
    Member
    Since: Sep 2008

    I’ll mostly be Remote Playing while I pooh and also when my girlfriend watched Sctrictly Come Dancing. Bliss.

    Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 20:02.
    • lambchop
      Member
      Since: Aug 2013

      There is something quite satisfying about dropping a few logs while playing Resogun….

      Comment posted on 19/12/2013 at 11:37.

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