With the PlayStation 4 launching in North America just a few days ago on the 15th and launching in Europe on the 29th, I figured it’s time to make it clear what Remote Play is, how it works and how to get the best results. There are many misconceptions about Remote play, so let’s make sure things are crystal clear. If you don’t understand something, please ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to explain further/another way. I’m trying to clarify, not confuse 😉

What is Remote Play?

Remote Play is the method by which your handheld PlayStation device (PSVita) connects to your home console (PS4). This can occur using one of four connection types;  ad-hoc, networked, infrastructure and cellular infrastructure.

How do the different connection types work?

Ad-hoc works by the PlayStation 4 console broadcasting a wifi signal, much like that of a standard router. The PlayStation Vita then connects to that signal and they share information directly over a point-to-point wifi network connection. This option provides the best quality provided you’re fairly close to the PlayStation 4 (the closer the better, must be in wifi range of the console), but requires your account to be activated as the primary account on the PlayStation 4 to use it.

Networked Remote Play is achieved using a connection that goes through the router, but not through the internet. This connection type is achieved by both the home console and handheld signing into the same router so that the traffic may pass between them in a network-only fashion. This type of connection would be comparable to ad-hoc under optimal circumstances, but since you’re adding something to the equation there are other factors to consider and it’s only almost as good. This is the most typical setup, and the preferred one of all but the purists. To use this connection type your Vita and PS4 must be in wifi range of the same router, but not each other. You can get more distance out of this set up than ad-hoc mode.

Infrastructure connections work by either connecting through the same router (both the handheld and home console connected to the same one) or by each connecting to an access point which will communicate via the internet. In both cases, the home console and portable must be connected via wifi to a router. To use this method of connection, you must be in range of a wifi router with your Vita, and so must your PS4 – but you can be as far from your PS4 as possible (for the most part).

Cellular infrastructure is set up pretty much the same as infrastructure mode, other than the fact that one (or both) of the routers are substituted for cellular connections. So either the home console tethers to a cellular device and/or the handheld does – the rest of the functionality being the same. This method offers the most broad accessibility, accessible from anywhere a cellular network is available.

In each of these cases, as listed, you’re getting the chance for progressively more “lag” time in your connection. Ad-hoc connections are the most direct and will provide the lowest ping (response time) from the handheld to the home console while the cellular infrastructure option will have the slowest response, with the ping for 3G/4G networks being significantly higher than ad-hoc or infrastructure methods. Still, it’s only a fraction of a second on 3G – not enough to hamper your experience unless your network is sub-par or you’re using this method to access your hardware across the world.

What games on the PlayStation 4 support Remote Play?

To be absolutely clear; all PlayStation 4 games which do not require a peripheral (you can play them using just the DualShock 4) will be playable on the PlayStation Vita via remote play.

How do I set up/start Remote Play between the PS4 and PSVita?

Remote play on the PlayStation Vita is achieved using the PS4 Link app included in the 3.00 firmware update, while the PlayStation 4 (including the day-one update) need only be used for initial setup using the PS Vita Connection settings option. Once you’ve set up the connection, you simply choose Remote Play in the PS4 Link app from your Vita and it syncs with the displayed content on your PS4.

How does this work? You’re transmitting a game between the PSVita and PS4, doesn’t that take a lot of power/time?

Actually, that’s not really how it works. Think of it like this; when you connect via Remote Play your PSVita becomes a DualShock 4 with a screen – the PSVita sends controller inputs to the PS4 (simple commands, uses minuscule amounts of bandwidth) while the PS4 simply streams the screen to the PSVita. There’s no actual game being streamed, and it doesn’t play on the Vita – remote play simply makes your handheld the controller and gives you a mirror of what’s on the screen. All said and done, it’s slightly more taxing than streaming a Youtube video (to the Vita).

How do I get the best experience from Remote Play (or how do I improve my connection)?

A few good tips to get the best connection include unchecking “Use WI-FI in Power Save Mode” on the PSVita (enables a faster connection/more throughput) and changing the channel that your PS4 or router broadcasts on (to reduce interference). These methods will improve your experience regarding connection strength, lag, throughput and ping – giving you the best experience possible for your connection type.

Does the PlayStation 4 need to be on to start Remote Play?

Yes, though starting from Rest Mode works if you’ve got it enabled in the settings.

Does the PlayStation 4 need to be on to use Remote Play?

Yes, the PlayStation 4 needs to be on while using Remote Play, as it’s actually what’s running the game. The PS4 is simply streaming the display to the Vita, the Vita streaming controller input back in turn. The good news is that your TV doesn’t need to be showing the PS4 screens during Remote Play, so you can change the channel or even turn off the TV completely.

Didn’t the PlayStation 3 have Remote Play with the PSP/PSVita too?

While Remote Play as we refer to it here is done between a PlayStation Vita and a PlayStation 4, it originated however on the PlayStation 3. The PlayStation Portable (PSP) and later the PlayStation Vita were able to connect to the PlayStation 3 to play certain games that were “Remote Play enabled”.

Not all PS3 games were set up to allow for Remote Play though; actually, most weren’t. That said, it’s worth noting that “hackers” were able to get some games up and running that didn’t officially support the feature using custom firmware tweaks, the quality of the Remote Play streaming varying game to game.

The reason all PlayStation 3 games weren’t Remote Play enabled/compatible was due to limited hardware resources (mostly regarding RAM), but the PlayStation 4 has overcome that with its abundance of power and space – giving us a true Remote Play experience across all possible titles.

The only question left is Are you interested?

I know I am.

  • ExcaliburEdge

    Today I tried using remote play on a tethered verizon iphone 5 on LTE. It works surprisingly well! I didn’t use if very long, though. I imagine the data usage would get way out of hand very quickly.

  • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

    Myt only question is how far from the ps4 for the direct wifi? When I’m sat at home I’ll be within 5-6 feet of it, closer to it than I will be to my router which is on the back wall. Seems direct will make moresense for me given the signal can go direct rather than behind me to then go back past me to theps4 :p

    • Yuuki

      i read somewhere that you cant sit to far away from it.

    • Yuuki
      • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

        Hmmm…I’m not putting an ethernet cable in mine, those things are ugly :p

    • Kyle Wakeling

      Distance depends on a lot of factors, but if it’s a clear line of sight you should get a fair amount of distance inside your home. Easily ~15 meters/50 ft without too much of a signal dip.

      • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

        Nice. So it should be good for me then.

  • LightningBoltAction

    Can you use ‘Ad-hoc’ even if the PS4 is connected to the Internet using Wi-fi?

    I’m not sure where I read it but it seems that if you want ‘Ad-hoc’ to work the PS4 needs to be connected by cable to the router so the PS4’s Wi-fi module can be used to connect to the Vita.

    Can you please confirm this?

    • MG7317

      The PS4 will probably just disconnect from wifi if you ask for an ad-hoc connection. Like the Vita.

    • Kyle Wakeling

      Sorry I missed this – but ad-hoc connection (direct) with Remote Play does NOT disconnect you from the internet on the PS4. You can Remote Play directly and then go online and play multiplayer over Remote Play with the Vita – no problem.

  • Non-move games can opt out of remote play if they have a technical reason to do so. Diablo III almost did not support it.

  • Richard Forman

    I have a vita that I sometimes use for remote play with my ps3. I don’t have a ps4 yet, but I’ll probably get one in a few months. My friend wants to try out remote play on his ps4 with my vita. Is there any drawback to that? Will I have to unpair my vita from my ps3? Will I have any trouble pairing my vita when I get my own ps4? Please advise.

    • Kyle Wakeling

      Well, here’s the deal.

      First things first, you need to use the same account on both devices to activate Remote Play, so your Vita + his PS4 isn’t going to work unless one of you switches accounts (a pain in the ass for Vita, less of a pain but still sucks on PS4).

      Second of all if you did the above (or were for some reason already using the same account) and then paired for Remote Play, from there you’d have no further issues/drawbacks. There’s no reason a Vita or PS4 will not re-pair with another device and there’s no limit on pairing.

      Hope this answers your question, but if not I can explain further. 🙂

      • Richard Forman

        Thanks! It pretty much answers my question. The only thing I’m not 100% clear on is if the ps4 account that is the same as the vita account has to be the primary account for that PS4, or can it be a secondary account? That is, can I just go over to my friends house, add myself as another user to his machine, log in, and connect my vita with remote play? Or is it more complex than that?

        • Kyle Wakeling

          As far as I know as long as it’s not a sub-account (no admin privileges) it’ll work, though I’m not 100% positive.

  • Josh

    I’ve read around a bit and can’t seem to find anything that says if you have to be on the same channel whilst using remote play?

    For example… The wife’s watching tv on Hdmi 1 whilst my playstation is on and running on Hdmi 2, will remote play work like that if that makes sense?