|Image Credit: Sony via TechRadar
I have many close friends that I haven't been able to visit for a couch gaming session for a while. One of which is a pal who lives an almost two-hour-drive away from me and owns a PlayStation 4. Under normal circumstances, I would have maybe visited him once a month or once every two months. We could hang out, play soccer in his backyard, and then eventually get worn out and then go back inside. We would get to play some local multiplayer Gang Beasts (a GIF of which is shown below) or Rocket League, or take turns with the controller playing a single-player game like Marvel's Spider-Man.
|GIF source: https://giphy.com/gifs/wMquyogN7d6Jq/html5
Our current time, obviously, is not normal, unfortunately. So, how would I celebrate his upcoming birthday with him from a distance? I could play a game online with him... or I could take it a step further with Share Play. Share Play, which was talked-about all the way back since the PS4's initial launch, has existed for a while. But I haven't gotten to try it out until yesterday due to the requirement of the feature that in order to use it, at least one person out of the two-person session has to have a PS Plus subscription. Once I subscribed during the Days of Play sale, I now had the ability to stream the contents of my PS4's game screen to my friend over the Internet. This way, I could virtually pass my controller over to him and we could take turns playing a single-player game. Also, in the future, we could be able to play a local multiplayer game that doesn't support online multiplayer as if we're in the same room together.
Now, was it easy to set up? For us, not exactly. That's since his PS4 has parental controls blocking him from joining a party session, which is the first step of the process. His dad wasn't there to get past the restriction, so we ended up spending forty-five minutes trying to set up a new PSN profile for him that he could use to send a friend request to me to so that I could invite him to a Share Play session.
But once it worked, it really worked. We had the ability to voice chat directly through the PS4 and the DualShock 4 has a built-in headphone jack. Both of these things are pretty standard stuff, but for a Nintendo Switch gamer like myself, these both seem like miracles.
It wasn't all ideal, though. While there was minimum input or video lag at all, my PS4 just sucks at connecting to the Internet for some reason (while all my other devices are generally fine), so even though during the duration of Share Play sessions (which last an hour maximum each, so you just have to reclick the button every hour elapsed, which is no big deal and barely an inconvenience) my connection was very stable, it would randomly disconnect and stop working periodically (every half an hour or so) due to how bad my PS4's Internet connection capabilities are. The speed tests on it literally show the speed as being less than a quarter or fifth of what the speeds show on my Switch or computer on literally the same exact network... ouch.
Besides the random disconnects and leaving the party, which was annoying but more of a system-wide issue, Share Play seems to be great! I can pass over the controller to him at anytime I want through a menu, and it's even quicker to take back control whenever I want. This allowed us to take turns doing stunts and tricks in the Alaskan mountainside in STEEP, as well as for me to guide him through a particular short point of the opening sequence in a new save file in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, which he wanted to try out. The best part? It's completely free for the guest player! No paid subscription, no copy of the game, and practically nothing else is required for him to join my session.
When I'm going to be far away from him for potentially months, and with him already living somewhat far away anyways, this feature is a lifesaver and already justifies PS Plus on its own despite me not having that many online multiplayer games to play (with cloud saves being not only peace of mind, but a great bonus, even if I feel that they should be free on all consoles).
Here's a scene from yesterday shortly after I ate dinner, during our Share Play session (combined with a clip from one of my semi-recent Twitch streams of the same game, even though it's of a completely separate event from what I'm describing):
Speeding down the side of the mountain on a snowboard, he was pretty much doomed to get KO'ed with one wrong turn. And then he did. But right after he did, with one (actually, two, but whatever) button presses, I had seized control of the game as if teleporting the controller across space that only technology had the capability to get across safely, and then swapped to a rocket wingsuit. I flew back up the side of Mont Blanc (this was before we swapped to Alaska) and then deployed my parachute. I then gave control back to him.
"Go ahead. It's your turn now," I told him, speaking into my tiny headset. He laughed in anticipation and noted that he could feel the rumble in my controller as well, since that was also being streamed to him. This was such a simple and un-noteworthy occurrence, but it made me feel somewhat sad. I miss being able to bond over video games in-person, tossing a controller back and forth, but for now, this will suffice. So thanks for that, I suppose, Sony. Until next time, this is Arca, signing out. I may not be able to do daily posts due to still having some homework, but I'll just try to do it as regularly as possible until summer vacation officially starts next Friday. Have a good one, and stay safe, everyone.