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PS4 Vita Remote Play: it just works, and it’s just brilliant

Tuesday, 3rd December 2013 08:44 GMT By Brenna Hillier

PlayStation 4′s Remote Play feature and a war in the Murder House living room inspired Brenna to dust off her long-neglected Vita, with compelling results.

PS4 second screens

To access PS4 Remote Play on your Vita, you’ll need the latest firmware update. Open the new PS4 Link app for instructions on how to pair your console and portable.

You’ll need access to your PS4 to pair the two devices initially, but after that you can fire the console up remotely as long as you’ve left it in standby mode with a stable Internet connection.

To use second screen features with your PlayStation 4, you’ll need a Vita, or an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet with the latest version of the free PlayStation App installed.

PlayStation App on the App Store.

PlayStation App on Google Play.

Now that I finally have a couch I quite like spending time in my living room. Oh sure, the PS3 and monitor in my bedroom are totally pimpin’, but in the absence of a fellow human being to cuddle there and/or a filthy head cold, I quite like to be out in the relatively fresher air in the company of my delightful English Murder Housemate, who uses a lot of great swears and can be prevailed upon to share his candy.

The thing is, we only have one telly out there, and right now we’re both deeply in love with Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. I don’t want to play a PC game in the corner and he doesn’t want to find his 3DS charger. We both want to spend all our free time sailing the ocean blue, shooting monkeys and crafting fabulous new outfits. Since we’re perhaps overly courteous people neither of us would ever ask the other to vacate the prime position in front of the screen, so tensions began to climb while we circled the console bank being icily polite at each other.

Happily, his platform of choice at the moment is Xbox 360, while mine is PlayStation 4. I don’t know if you’ve heard but the PS4 is a pretty sweet bit of hardware, and one of its most clever tricks is Vita Remote Play. I was pretty cynical about this ever working well for triple-A releases, but I heard so many good stories I decided to give it a go.

Vita Remote Play – or PS4 Link, depending on which side of the divide you’re coming from – is extremely easy to set up and works remarkably well. Unlike the PS3′s case-by-case support, PS4′s Vita Remote Play works natively, with the option for developers to add in tailored controls if they choose. In the case of Assassin’s Creed 4, Ubisoft did elect to add in a few bells and whistles – touch screen controls for the map – but also made the very sensible decision to pop the triggers on the Vita’s shoulder buttons and move the less-used bumpers to the rear touch pad; a simple change that works wonders.

It’s not perfect. When my neighbours come home and switch on whatever badly-shielded appliance they use all evening that scotches every WiFi channel for two blocks I have to be patient about the resulting lag and drop-outs. Touch screen controls drive me bananas because I’m one of those people whom electronics have decided has no soul. After a drop out, the game occasionally demands you switch on your DualShock 4, which will immediately cause another drop out (the correct course of action is to press X on the Vita, it turns out).

Chattin’ with the boss. I opened the
messaging interface on my PS4, but typed
the text on my smartphone using the
PlayStation App.

But these are minor complaints compared to the sheer wizardry of sitting there playing a proper Assassin’s Creed game on my tiny portable console. I can now get in a few quick naval battles or some collecting while my housemate does the same, or while lying down flat on my bed, or while waiting in an airport with good WiFi. I can go on holiday and not have to worry about carrying a full-sized console in my carry-on. It’s just fabulous. It also looks beautiful in a way that no Vita game has quite managed yet thanks to the handheld’s lower processing power; it’s an HD stream on that gorgeous OLED screen. Compared side by side with the Xbox 360 (or PS3 or Wii U, I’m sure) output on the telly, there’s no arguing – the stream on the Vita looks better thanks to next-gen assets and rendering.

That’s not all the Vita can do for the PS4, though; the second screen stuff is much more useful and pleasant than I expected. I’ve never had much patience for people who complain about text entry on consoles – it is what it is – so I wasn’t prepared for just how great it is to be able to pick up either my smartphone, tablet or Vita and use that to enter voucher codes and tap out messages to friends quickly and painlessly. Although it’s not new, it’s even quite nice to be able to chat to people on social media on your phone, and quickly and easily manage PSN friend requests from the same device without having to fire up a console or log into the SEN website. Various games will implement other stuff like maps, databases and tools, which may or may not be useful; I imagine it mostly will fall into the “nice to have” category since developers can’t assume end users will have access to a compatible second screen device.

Much of this second-screen praise likely applies to Xbox SmartGlass, too, although I haven’t tested it, and I assume this is what Nintendo was aiming for with the Wii U – ensuring every gamer does have a second screen. But as Microsoft said when discussing its prototype controllers, a second screen used extensively means you’re pulling the gamer’s attention away from the TV, which seems counter-productive – especially as the vast majority of games are cross-platform, and will therefore always have to treat the Wii U’s second-screen potential as an optional extra. Sony and Microsoft’s additive policy seems much saner.

That said, if you’ve got a PS4 and a Vita and you haven’t yet hooked them up, you’re really missing out. It’s remarkably easy to pair the two pieces of hardware and the benefits are immediate. For the first time since the Vita launched I feel really comfortable saying it’s something hardcore gamers are going to want to have in their hands.

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27 Comments

  1. polygem

    it’s a nice feature…just like it is on wiiu. on that platform you need four eyes for a gimmick like this though of course :)
    it’s just not powerful enough and overall waaaaay too last gen for it.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Dimaco

    Wow! Definitely gonna try this: up till now I only paired the two, I was kinda afraid to be let down tbh… but you definitely got me wanna try! Thanks Brenna! :-)

    #2 1 year ago
  3. monkeygourmet

    @Poly

    Hows the lag? I read the Digital Foundary review and it didn’t give me high hopes tbh.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. DrDamn

    @3
    I guess it depends how sensitive you are to it because it feels perfectly fine to me. PS4 connected by wire to router, PSV wirelessly. You also have the option of connecting wirelessly direct to the the PS4. It does just work.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. monkeygourmet

    @4

    Thanks! Digital Foundary articles are a bit hit and miss sometimes, i’d like to give it a try but I don’t know anyone who has gone for a PS4 yet! :)

    #5 1 year ago
  6. zoopdeloop

    @1 Sony commented heavily on WiiU but they didn’t follow the exact same patern.One screen is easier than two :P

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Dave Cook

    I played the last four or five missions of Killzone Shadow Fall on remote play with no issues. My lady kicked me off the telly, like in those Wii U adverts.

    The only issue I had was the rear touch pad’s L2 and R2 ‘buttons’ can be easy to miss.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Tormenter

    Yes, remote play is VERY nice at times.

    I have an Nvidia Shield and it works very well too. I supposedly need a dual band ‘n’ router but my bog standard one is fine. It’s all virtually lagless.

    MS certainly seem to be the arse of the pack this time round and they couldn’t even impliment it if they wanted to, having no portable HW of their own.

    LMAO, even the Wii U has it’s version.

    Does the Vita ( I will always think that is a dumb name.. mind you, ‘Shield’ isn’t much better) have an HDMI out? The fact that the shield has one, converts it from handheld to console streamer for the TV, I’m still playing with it.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. Francis O

    The remote play feature is lacking. It cuts Resogun and Call of Duty’s frame rates in half.

    And those are the only two games I have for the PS4

    #9 1 year ago
  10. pukem0n

    @8

    no portable hardware?

    you mean like those 10 Million Lumia phones sold last quarter?

    i bet they could implement this in some smartglass thing if they really wanted to, but for some reason they propably wont. nobody understand microsofts business strategy at this point

    #10 1 year ago
  11. FeaturePreacher

    @8
    No HDMI out, but there is the possibility of the release of the Vita TV in the west for $100.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. Fin

    Remote Play’s alright, but it’s hard going from 1080p 60fps to 960×544 30fps.

    Now I know how Xbox One owners feel lolololololol

    #12 1 year ago
  13. Tormenter

    @8

    Yes I saw that.. you still need separate HW though.. it seems rather redundant to have to buy a portable AND TV version of the same HW.

    @10

    LMAO.. in what way is the Lumia ‘portable MS gaming hardware’? It’s a win8 phone.. that’s NOT the same thing.. MS are only just NOW working on a way to unify their various systems, phone, console, etc.. but they all use different coding atm.. if this was it be implimented, it certainly wouldn’t be anytime soon… and I still doubt the Lumia would do the job. Most likely MS will require new separate HW for this feature.. even if it didn’t, they’d still cripple it so that it did… You think you’ll get this as an add-on feature when every other part of the market has to pay for specific HW?.. Hardly.

    I know the Xbone crowd should be feeling a bit silly atm, going with the poor cousin this generation, but seriously “lumia is just as good”? .. DERP.

    That is being just a tad too blinkered.

    EDIT.. my comments aren’t strictly Anti-xbox 180.. its just that it IS the poorer HW this gen, so it gets a kicking for it.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. absolutezero

    I tried it out the first day I got my PS4 because it was a feature.

    I have not used it since because its pretty much pointless. For me that is. I’ll use the Vita for Vita games for now. eh.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. jc1639

    I actually use this feature the most. After upgraded from a normal router to access points and a wireless controller from eBay I can roam the home and outside with out ever losing signal. I beat knack all remotely as well as play resogun, contrast, and madden.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. nintendotim

    @1 – You must be misunderstanding. While it is very similar to the Wii U and the GamePad, the Wii U is restricted to local, almost line-of-sight sessions.

    The Vita can be local or over the internet to access your PS4. I went out of state for Thanksgiving, and was able to play AC4 on my Vita. The connection did drop once or twice, but it was expected (and unfortunate), but I was able to reconnect in just a minute or two.

    Also: no lag.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. themadjock

    what would be good is if we could use a ds4 and only use the vita as the screen, the wiiu can do this so I don’t see why not

    #17 1 year ago
  18. Ireland Michael

    The L2 / R2 rear touch pad imput is genuinely terrible, and makes any game that employs an absolute chore to play. The fact that I can’t adjust them at is a terrible oversight. It would make far more sense to put L1 / R1 on the rear touch pad.

    Other than that, it’s pretty flawless.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. themadjock

    Yeah you fingers need to rest on the rear touchpad in order to hold the vita properly but that means you are constantly inadvertantly pressing the mapped buttons and mostly ruins it. Even if you could plug in a wired DS4 to the vita that would totally get over it.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. DrDamn

    @18
    Individual games can offer alternative schemes.

    https://support.us.playstation.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/5103/related/1/session/L2F2LzEvdGltZS8xMzg2MDc4ODIxL3NpZC9zcWhxelVHbA%3D%3D

    “Pressing the PS Button on the PS Vita brings up a menu with the following options:

    Button Guide: This displays the control scheme the current game is using for Remote Play. In some cases, alternate controls are available. You can scroll through available control options by tapping Button Guide and then tapping the left or right arrows on the bottom corners of the screen. If these arrows are greyed out, there are no other control options.”

    #20 1 year ago
  21. Ireland Michael

    @20 That’s great… as long as the games make use of them.

    Apparently, you *can* use the DS4 with Remote Play. You just turn on the controller while it’s active. Seems like a rather cumbersome way to play though, and somewhat defeats the point.

    #21 1 year ago
  22. Kuwabara

    Are you telling me that you can remote play from anywhere in the world?? I thought Yoshida said you had to be next to the ps4 for remote play.

    #22 1 year ago
  23. Ireland Michael

    @22 Nope. You can do it over the Internet as well.

    Of course, the reliability of that will depend entirely on the quality of the internet you’re using. If someone has slow internet, I imagine it would be something of a chore to use in any game that requires quick responses.

    It could certainly be used to say, stream movies from your device when visiting a friend’s house or something. It’s also why the Vita TV is such an inviting prospect to people.

    #23 1 year ago
  24. revolting

    The phone/tablet/toaster/whatever you can install apps on companion app is genuinely excellent. Not only because you can remotely access messaging, the store, and so on, but for the keyboard and touchpad features specifically… they are just brilliant. I’m not a fan of using voice comms unless it’s with people I actually know and actively game with, so for random play with random people, I use text input quite a bit. Virtual keyboards are always going to be a bit naff, or at the very least, incredibly slow to type with, just by virtue of having to select letters with a dpad. This companion app is the perfect solution to that. (and, yes, I know you’ve been able to use actual keyboards with consoles for generations now. But this is just… better. And so much more practical. And I can navigate around the entire console by swiping my thumb on my phone, which I find much more agreeable than waving desperately at a camera like a shipwrecked castaway.)

    If they added bluray/dvd remote control functionality to it, it would be perfect.

    #24 1 year ago
  25. abdooltk

    Oh my god guys you should see this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4gKeH8VlGI I LOVE PS4 SOOOOO BAD

    #25 1 year ago
  26. dtyk

    @Kuwabara

    Like I’ve tried to say time and time again, you can play your PS4 anywhere as long as there’s decent connection.

    eg. 1) I play Rezogun all the time at work right now. 2) The PS4 isn’t even mine lawl. It sits at my brother’s house, but I play it from my house with remote play

    Running it after work:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3Nxjbvb9ic

    I know a lot of people give Microsoft flak about shitty Xone marketing, but Sony screwed up just as hard on Remote Play.

    It’s an excellent, but highly misunderstood feature.

    #26 1 year ago
  27. 123

    Don’t buy ps vita for ps4. I just did. Problem: my son and I both have psn accounts for ps 4. Just bought vita for cool usage with ps 4 (like two screens for ps4); however it “ain’t so cool”. Vita is tied to ONE psn account. Whoever heard of tying hardware to one account? Ridiculous. Sony work around is to factory-reboot vita when 2nd user wants to use it with ps4. Stupid. Sony when did you stop thinking about customer use cases…

    #27 11 months ago

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