The PS Vita got a bad rap when it was released last year but if you really think about it, the hate on the device itself was totally unwarranted. What should've fallen on the shoulders of the lack of available games was taken out on the Vita and that was unfair. To keep it all the way real, the Vita's hardware is still awesome even if most of the games that came out for it weren't.
With the launch of the PS4, the Vita will get a second chance through the new Remote Play function. It’s not like Remote Play is a new feature, it’s been around since Vita was born but until now, there were very few games that supported streaming from console to the portable device. With the next gen’s arrival, Remote Play is one of the features most boasted about.
Connecting over the internet is an option but depending on how graphically intense and how strong the remote Wi-Fi signal is will determine if the game will play smoothly.
At a demo during PlayStation’s launch event, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was streamed in Remote Play from a PS4 and it looked awesome. The high resolution of the game took full advantage of the Vita’s screen clarity and lag time was nearly non-existent. This won’t be true in every case as variables like Wi-Fi signal strength and interference from other electronics play a big role in how the gaming experience will play out. On a home network, Remote Play worked just as well as in the PlayStation demo but when it was tested in the office, it simply wouldn't connect—even with all the required configurations that came with the PS4.
Per Sony, the recommended setup is to have the PS4 plugged directly into the router via Ethernet instead of the console connected via Wi-Fi. The PS Vita should also be on the same network as the console. Connecting over the internet is an option but depending on how graphically intense and how strong the remote Wi-Fi signal is will determine if the game will play smoothly. During the press demo, there was some talk about using port forwarding to optimize the connection for flawless play but no extensive details have been released yet. As a follow up after the press meeting, here's the response from PlayStation about using Remote Play outside of the PS4's network:
"We strongly recommend that Remote Play be used within the same WiFi network where PS4 is connected. Remote Play may or may not work over a wide area network. For Remote Play to function over a wide area network, a robust and stable WiFi connection and broadband Internet connection is required, and the local area network where PS4 is connected must be configured to permit the PS Vita system to access PS4.
The PS4 must be powered on."
Another thing that wasn’t addressed in detail at the press event was the use of the Second Screen feature which is meant to be a game enhancer. Possible uses will be for maps, stats or whatever inspires video game developers. It’s sort of like the Nintendo Wii U’s tablet but for grown-ups. At the moment, Sony seems to be focused on getting Remote Play right but it’s exciting to see what will come down the line for Second Screen in the future.
Since PlayStation is approaching Remote Play in a more aggressively, more developers have been including the feature in their games. In addition to ACIV: Black Flag, all future PlayStation 4 games will have Remote Play support except the ones that rely on the Move camera. Perhaps down the line gamers may see some sort of integration with the two cameras on the Vita but at the moment that’s only wishful thinking.
Given the fact that it’s still technically day one for the PS4, a few growing pains are expected, not being able to easily game miles away from the console shouldn’t be a deal breaker. When on the same network, the Remote Play works perfectly. Just remember that PlayStation 4 games are best played on a big screen so when video is streamed to the smaller glass of the Vita it becomes difficult to see any text displayed. That could prove to be a problem when it comes to in-game maps, radar, tool-tips or heads-up displays (HUDs). Again, not a deal breaker here as it leaves room for a future software update that includes rescaling the screen for Vita. At the moment, Remote Play is the absolute best thing to happen to the PS Vita as it’s now possible to release the commandeering of the TV and still get game time in. The PS4 is already a satisfying investment and with Remote Play on the Vita, it makes it even more valuable. Once the few connection and display wrinkles are ironed out, expect it to be the talk of the town. Xbox One has got have something up their collective sleeves to answer this power move.