When the PS4 was announced earlier this year, it was revealed that both it and the PS Vita were indeed built with each other in mind. Unlike the PS3 and PS Vita, which had general communication failures and of course, Remote Play functionality issues, to say it's pleasing that the PS4 will be equipped to expect PS Vita connectivity straight away would be an understatement. This is a marriage that should shape the future of Sony's platform and perhaps gaming in general.
The problem the PS3 had with Remote Play was simply the fact that the infrastructure wasn't built to handle processing a remote experience. After all, the PS3's hardware was built specifically to run a single robust experience for your TV and Remote Play. Attempting to achieve this put too much strain on development as they were attempting to tone down a game just to be able to stream to a separate device. That's why only a handful of experiences have so far been able to use the Remote Play functionality.
This changes with PS4. Equipped with a separate chip that is designed specifically to handle streaming content, the rest of the console is free to do its normal tasks while your Vita is fed the gameplay it produces. It's a system that will remedy the flaws we've experienced for so long with Sony's attempts at Remote Play.
The function works seamlessly enough. While your PS4 is powered up or on standby, simply fire up the PS4 Link app on your PS Vita and select Remote Play. This will stream the content of your PS4 straight to your PS Vita, allowing others to use the TV or you to kick back in your chair of choice. Expect support of this feature as well, as Sony states most games will support Remote Play. However titles that require PS4 peripherals such as the camera will not.
The Remote Play feature is not without restrictions. Due to bandwidth limits, upload speed problems, firewalls, hubs, and other technical mumbo jumbo; Sony strongly recommends keeping this within the same local network (or router). For the best experience, Sony also recommends that you have PS4 connected via Ethernet to the network of choice. This ensures maximum connectivity for the best and most seamless experience. Before you ask, no you can't use 3G to Remote Play.
When playing games with remote play, the resolution will be scaled down to fit the PS Vita screen. When it comes to controls, Sony has expressed that they want all developers to create custom control schemes to fit the PS Vita's button layout. This could come in the form of L2 and R2 being mapped to the back touch for example. Make no mistake, Sony seems to be in full support of this function.
The other option you'll find in the PS4 Link app on your PS Vita is the Second Screen functionality. Certain games on the PS4 will be developed to support use of the PS Vita as a second screen. This allows the player to have visuals such as maps and inventory as a glance. Even bringing gameplay enhancements such as a more robust touch mechanics.
When it comes to social networking, PS4 and PS Vita leaves no one to feel secluded as they allow players across both platforms to connect, share, and communicate with ease. The already great Party Chat in the PS Vita is expanded to the world of PS4 and players from both platforms are free to connect and talk. This feature will also be available no matter what games anyone is playing.
Many features already present with PS3 and PSVita will be available with PS4 as well. For starters, players across PS Vita and PS4 can communicate with text messages. Cross Play, which allows games played on different platforms to communicate online, will be on a game by game basis and up to the developer's discretion. Cross Buy, which allows games bought on one platform to be free on another, is also available but up to the publishers to decide.
It's an exciting time for PS Vita owners. With the inevitable launch of PS4 just around the corner, many of the promises we have been given time after time may be finally in our hands. It still remains to be seen if all of these features will work without flaws, but first impressions look promising. November the 15th can't come soon enough.