The skies darken. Mercury falls. Light sheets yield to heavy blankets. Winter is coming. As avid console gamers across Australia take refuge beneath the covers, the journey down an icy corridor to a frozen TV room starts to seem like something out of The Revenant. Sheer madness.
Yet somewhere out there, your friends are still grinding missions in The Division, ranking up in Rocket League or pretending there really is new content in Destiny. Hibernation FOMO is real – but all is not lost.
Yesterday, just in time for the turning of the season, a PS4 update has given us Remote Play – the ability to play our PlayStations through any Mac or PC laptop. You know what that means…The Witcher in bed.
Now I know what you’re thinking – It’s a gimmick. It probably won’t work, or not very well. This skepticism was of course shared by your humble narrator – and not for the first time, I’m happy to say I was so, so wrong. It’s glorious.
The setup seemed easy enough. First, apply the PS4 update, then download the Remote Play app to your laptop from the Sony website (it’s here by the way) organize snacks, snuggle into bed, and just plug in the controller.
Plug in the controller…fuck.
I hadn’t seen a controller cable since buying the fancy PS4 charging dock in July last year (buy one, seriously). It was buried somewhere deep in attic storage. One treacherous climb into pitch black with a torch in my teeth later, I finally found it under a discarded Mario Kart wheel and an old Foxtel box I never returned. They still send me letters.
Back in bed, I plugged the controller into my MacBook, launched the Remote Play app and hit START. The app wasn’t able to automatically find my PS4 for some reason, even though it was on the same Wifi network. The alternative was to “manually” get the app and the PS4 to mate by copying a code from the PS4 to the Remote Play app on the MacBook. You know, like it’s 1997 or something. This meant getting out of bed again. But I did it, for science.
And then it worked.
The first thing that struck me was how damn responsive it all was – there was virtually no delay between using the controller and seeing the result on screen. The default settings restrict you to a low frame rate and pretty potato visual quality but these can easily be adjusted via the bare bones Preferences in the app (Protip: adjust these settings before pressing “START” because you can’t change them once you’ve connected to the PS4. Because unicorns.)
I decided to test Dark Souls 2 first, figuring that a game requiring quick reflexes would be a good measure of how viable Remote Play streaming would be. Sure enough, I died just as smoothly and reliably as I did playing it in front of the TV – with the added benefit of it happening in the safety of my bedroom, where none can bear witness to my humiliation (not in Dark Souls, at least).
Far Cry Primal? Same results. Broforce? Same. Destiny? The same. It stayed smooth, it stayed connected, the sound and music never got choppy – for all intents and purposes, I was playing AAA games fullscreen on a Mac laptop. And you can too. Plus, you get to play them without having to hear the fans of your PS4 – which, if they’re anything like mine, sound like a fucking learjet in turbulence.
So as you officially put away the shorts, tees, thongs, skirts and summer dresses in anticipation of the coming freeze. take heart. Remote Play is your friend. Xbox One players need not despair either, as Microsoft have offered the same service on their console for some time, unless you use a Mac, in which case you’re shit out of luck.
In any case, this is a moment for console gamers worldwide to rejoice. We live in a golden age where we have yet again been given exactly what we want – one less reason to get out of bed. Ever.