Starting today, it’s now possible to stream your PlayStation 4 to a PC or Mac. That sounds pretty awesome in theory, but how’s it actually work? I’ve spent the morning playing around with Remote Play to find out.
Remote Play is a technology that allows a PS4 to become a hub device that spits a video stream to other displays. Until now, Remote Play was limited to the Vita, but Sony’s wised up and expanded what it’ll work with.
First things first, head over to Sony’s website and download the Remote Play software for PC or Mac. (My testing happened on a PC, by the way.)
The initial setup was a breeze, but I’ve heard of people running into connectivity troubles. I connected fine with my PS4 and both hardwired over Ethernet, and when they were both connected to the same Wi-Fi spot. I ran into trouble, however, when one was on Ethernet and the other was on wireless. What’s your experience been like?
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Once the software is installed, you connect a Dual Shock 4 via USB and in less than a minute, a display should pop up with the familiar PS4 UI.
Side note: Make sure to drop into the settings panel! Remote Play defaults to streaming at 540p and “standard” frame rate, aka 30 frames-per-second. You can bump those up to 720p and “high” frame rate, aka 60 FPS, and clean up the image.
On both Ethernet and wireless, my experience was...okay. Remote Play definitely works, I’m glad it exists, and it’s cool to jump into a PS4 game when my machine is in the other room. That said, my computer monitor is 1080p, which means the 720p stream looks blurry in full screen.
Two, while Remote Play is capable of 60FPS, that doesn’t mean it’ll stream that way on your connection. So when you don’t actually get 720p and 60FPS, it’s awkward. When you’re used to playing a game at a high frame rate, especially one that requires precision controls, it has a notable impact on your ability to play.
Here’s what Rocket League looked like on my machine over Remote Play, captured while my PS4 and PC were both connected over Ethernet:
I didn’t expect Remote Play to be useful for sharpening my game, but with Rocket League, it was super difficult to hit the ball properly. Maybe I’d be able to adjust with a little more time and patience, but it left a bad first impression that has more to do with Rocket League than Remote Play. This is a technical limitation of Remote Play that Rocket League exasperates.
This is equally problematic with a tense game like Bloodborne:
At least I’m used to From Software games having frame rate issues!
What seems to work best with Remote Play are simpler games, stuff less reliant on moment-to-moment finger twitching. The Witness works really well over Remote Play, for example. The slower the game, the better.
It definitely helps if the game is 2D, though. Salt and Sanctuary, aka 2D Dark Souls, was pretty playable over Remote Play. Take a look:
One hopes this is the beginning of Sony refining Remote Play in the months and years to come. I’m not sure if we can expect Remote Play to achieve streaming 1080p games at 60 FPS anytime soon, but I’ll dream.
In the meantime, if they can smooth out what’s already there, it’s a useful stopgap. I mean, when you’re in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a laptop and an Internet connection, something’s better than nothing!