Starfield Is Surprisingly Great Using Remote Play
I’m about 27 hours into Starfield and nearing the story’s end. But I’m not quite ready for my first playthrough to be over.
I’ve started to get some answers to the world’s intriguing questions and now that I see the end in sight, I’m not sure I’m ready to roll credits (although, like any Bethesda Game Studios RPG, the game continues after credits with faction questlines, side missions, and more). I could have last night, but my wife and I decided to watch a movie instead: Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (one of the best in the series). I’ve seen it but she hadn’t, so I picked up my Backbone controller device for my iPhone 14 Pro Max and booted up Starfield to continue playing.
I should note I’ve had Starfield code for about a week, but the game launched yesterday for Premium or Constellation Edition owners or Game Pass users who paid the upgrade fee to unlock the Premium version. Otherwise, the standard edition of Starfield and its regular Game Pass release goes live on Wednesday, September 6. I say all that to preface this with the fact that Starfield’s Xbox Cloud Gaming version is not yet live – I’ve been playing Starfield on my Backbone via my Xbox Series X’s remote play feature and it rules.
I haven’t messed with Xbox’s remote play stuff too much. I really enjoy kicking back on the couch and playing games on my TV. And the few times I have tried remote play in the past, it hasn’t been great. Laggy input and audio clipping have previously made the experience feel impossible. But, given my wife and I wanted to watch a movie and I didn’t want to stop playing Starfield, I decided to give it a go. I’ve used my Backbone a few times and it’s been great. It’s the most premium phone-based controller I’ve used and feels great to hold. Playing Persona 5 Royal and other games that don’t require fast input is a perfect fit for remote play, but I wasn’t sure a shooter RPG would be.
But alas, the pull to play more Starfield had me booting it up and it was a near-perfect experience. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised Xbox’s remote play feature is better than it was when I tried it a year ago, but I was; I couldn’t feel an input delay, the audio was fine, and even though my iPhone is a significantly smaller screen than I prefer, it still got the job done. And two hours later, I was having a great time, the same great time I had on my TV playing Starfield a couple of hours prior.
On top of that, Starfield is a great game for remote play. Because I intentionally avoided the main path – I want to save those moments for the big screen – I spent my time remote-playing Starfield doing side quests, faction missions, and various activities. My primary goal last night was to upgrade my ship to have more cargo, better shields and weaponry, and a further grav drive jump distance. Doing so consisted of mostly mindless activities like selling cargo after winning dogfights in space, looting chests and safes for credits, and completing side quests. Nothing was too intensive gameplay-wise; I could quickly go back and forth between Starfield and the movie, and I didn’t mind having the audio down low in-game either.
It was a legitimately great experience and it reshaped how I view Xbox’s remote play feature. It’s nowhere near as great as playing on a TV – duh – but it absolutely gets the job done when I want to, say, watch Father of the Bride Part II or play Starfield somewhere that isn’t on my couch. I won’t be playing Starfield via my Backbone for the main quest because I do think more cinematic missions and moments call for the pomp and circumstance of my usual setup, but when I need to spend time grinding credits, completing activities, or pursuing a singular background goal like upgrading my ship or making my character look cooler? I now have no problem doing so remotely.
I guess I’m writing all this to say I’m an Xbox remote play believer now. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
For more about Starfield, read Game Informer’s Starfield review and then check out our spoiler-free tips we wish we knew before starting the game. After that, read about why I think Starfield is more like a sci-fi theme park than an open world adventure, and then watch the latest episode of The Game Informer Show to hear our early Starfield impressions.