When I first booted up my PlayStation 4, I wasn't thinking about its much-touted Remote Play functionality. With a PS Vita, you can play just about any PS4 game wherever you are, in-home or abroad, via Wi-Fi. I was enraptured by the PS4 user interface and the allure of Killzone: Shadow Fall at 1080p, but when I remembered Remote Play and gave it a try, I discovered that the feature is seamless, easy-to-use, and works as advertised--some of the time.
You see, the quality of your Remote Play experience depends greatly on your network environment. When I started playing Killzone with Remote Play for the first time, I had my PS4 wired to the same router my Vita was wirelessly connected to. While sitting in the same room, I had a pretty consistent framerate and video quality, and input lag never seemed to dip below a fraction of a second. It was playable, not ideal, and the same quality kept up when I moved one room away. I'd lose connection for a brief instant every few minutes or so, but it was still playable--just not ideal.
Drawn to the idea of a 1:1 gameplay experience, I decided to experiment. I took my Vita to class the next day and tried connecting to my PS4 over the internet. As I expected, my Vita found my PS4 in the internet aether, but something about my university's Wi-Fi protocols prevented it from sustaining an active connection. At home that night, I realized my girlfriend's internet browsing (via the same router) was introducing frequent disconnections and terrible video quality in my Remote Play of Knack. I began thinking of alternatives and digging through settings. Then, I remembered: Connect Directly with PS Vita.
In the flurry of a console launch, especially one in which you're writing about the system and its games, it's easy to overlook certain details and forget about settings and features you don't use right away. I hadn't turned on Connect Directly with PS Vita (found in PS Vita Connection Settings) at first because I thought it might disable Remote Play through the internet. You might already know about direct connection, or maybe you're like me and you missed it the first time around.
For those looking to Remote Play with damn-near zero latency in the house, it's basically the greatest thing ever.
Here's how it works:
With most modes of Remote Play, your PS4 is handshaking with the internet before reaching your PS Vita. Essentially, your router is a middleman that, while extending the range of Remote Play within and outside the house, is susceptible to latency and interruption. With direct connection, PS4 streams directly to PS Vita without any technological stops in-between. It's incredibly useful on nights when another person in your household wants to watch a TV show, or your multi-tasking self wants to watch Game of Thrones while playing Madden or collecting relics in Knack.
So, in the same room as your PlayStation, Direct Connect is a beautiful thing. But there are some downsides. Any farther than 15 feet or so, and especially in other rooms, you're going to have trouble holding a connection to the system, let alone establishing one. Also, you might become so spoiled on the low latency of Direct Connect that other forms of Remote Play--when you have to move around the house, or take your Vita on the road--may pale in comparison.
To me, it's totally worth it. Like I said, some of you might have already realized the benefits of Direct Connect. Others, like me, might not have seen the setting or totally missed it on initial setup. Consider this a PSA: You can have an amazing Remote Play experience in the same room as your PS4 and free up the TV for other uses with a little thing called Direct Connect.
If you use Direct Connect to stream to PS Vita, or you prefer other forms of Remote Play, sound off in the comments. How has your Remote Play experience been so far? Other thoughts on PS4 to share?