On Saturday, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn started its first beta phase on the PlayStation 4. This allowed everyone with a PS4 to not only test out Square's latest MMO on their consoles, but also allowed players to test out the console's remote play feature with the PS Vita. This gave them a chance to see just how convenient (or not) it is to play a fully fledged MMO on that 5 inch screen.
The verdict is: It's playable!
Don't get me wrong, A Realm Reborn is meant to be played on a big screen. A lot of that is evident through the heavy use of text. From navigating the armory to scrolling through loads of conversations, it's not really all that readable on the Vita's screen. I found that a bulk of my enjoyment came from sticking to simpler tasks, or simply grinding monsters for levels.
Combat and crafting, arguably two of the most important things in A Realm Reborn, both translate quite perfectly to the Vita. With a click of the L or R shoulder buttons, you'll bring up one of the two hotbars and with a press of face button or D-pad, you'll unleash various skills. Since the combat isn't real-time, the slight lag you might experience through your Wifi's connection won't break your experience. This makes completing combat quests or your hunting log the ideal situation for playing A Realm Reborn through your Vita.
Here is a bad picture of me playing my Lancer Miqo'te in Gridania
Likewise, crafting makes a perfect transition to the Vita because of its laid-back nature. Sure, it's slightly more involved than other MMOs, as even chopping down a tree requires the player to perform button presses, but it still works regardless of the screen size because you won't be straining your eyes to read anything.
However, a few features don't make the transition to the Vita without a hitch. On the DualShock 4, the touchpad acts as a mouse on screen, allowing you to select menus and windows and then tap to click. The Vita's touch screen emulates the DS4's touchpad, but that's actually worse than it sounds. Instead of directly being able to select windows by putting your finger directly on it, it's emulating the touchpad, meaning your finger movement isn't 1:1.
Thankfully, A Realm Reborn doesn't really have any platforming-heavy sequences, at least not like Guild Wars 2 does, because the slight lag through Remote Play means some jumping sections are harder than they should be. In Central Gridania (one of Gridania's first adventuring sections) two camps are separated by a dried out river and you have to jump on rocks to get across. Trying this on the Vita took me slightly longer thanks to the input lag.
Regardless, it's still amazing to actually play A Realm Reborn on the Vita. The fact that I'm able to continue my game while my wife watches an episode of Revenge still blows me away. It might not be the perfect solution to replicate the full gameplay experience, but if I feel like grinding a few levels or work on my crafting, the Vita is a good enough alternative if the living room is occupied.