With James playing Fortnite on his phone and Steven trying out PUBG’s mobile version, I guess I’m feeling a little left out. I like games. I have a phone. I want to play some PC games on my phone too!
I do have a hard time even imagining how a fast-paced game like Fortnite can be played on a phone screen or how to manage headshots in a game like PUBG on mobile. When it comes to games I mainly use my phone for poker, Scrabble, and opening the daily Typeshift puzzle and then closing it because, ugh, no way will I get through that without needing hints. Maybe I should expand my horizons a bit.
As it turns out you don’t even have to wait for developers to make mobile versions of their games: there’s an app called Remotr that streams PC games to your phone. You download the app both on your desktop and mobile device, and just jump right in and play seemingly any game in your library. Where to start? How about a game that would be perfect for a 5.5 inch screen: Crusader Kings 2, a sprawling grand strategy that operates almost entirely with little menus and multiple window panes and lots and lots of teeny tiny text.
Hm. It’s possible my strategy wasn’t so grand. You can see from the capture above (taken from my phone, despite the fact that game was also playing on my monitor) it took a lot of work to just click the things I wanted to click to open and close windows. Forget PUBG headshots, I just want to assign some members to my council and have an affair with a court visitor and I can’t seem to manage it.
Come on, click the X. Click it. CLICK IT.
Not to mention actually reading the text is pretty much impossible. I can (after many tries) click the things I need to click and make important decisions but I have no idea what those decisions are because I can’t read. While that does make me feel like a real world leader, it’s not a great mobile experience.
With CK2 sadly unplayable on my phone, I move on. How about a fast-paced shooter, then? Quake Champions! I’ll jump in there with some PC players (crossplay!) and see how I stack up while playing on my phone. I’m guessing it will go really, really well.
Oddly, it didn’t. Turning is a challenge, as you can see my repeated attempts above, and turning quickly and reliably (or even semi-competently) is apparently sort of important in a game like Quake Champions. They should really tell you that before you buy it.
The app is kinda cool, though. You can add a bunch of different control options—keys, joysticks, buttons, d-pads, whatever—and drag them around and and drop them anywhere on the screen you like. So if you did find a game that was a better fit on mobile than Quake Champions, and for some reason wanted to stream it a few feet from your desktop so you could play it on your phone (I can’t quite think of why you would want to do this) it’s kind of nice to be able to lay out the controls however you want them.
I didn’t get much better at Quake Champions, and my opponents were unwilling to stand still in front of my guns while I slowly and clunkily aimed, so I moved on again, this time to Kingdom Come: Deliverance. What better game for your phone than one where you’re constantly tinkering around in menus, quietly reading books in bed, and taking baths because your puffy shirt gets smeared with filth the moment you step outside?
Nicely, for KCD, the app didn’t need me to add controls myself, it just loaded up about 65% of the screen for me with every control I could possibly need. And it all works. It’s awkward, and the controls block the on-screen prompts so it’s hard to tell what I need to do, but it works.
It’s probably KCD’s demanding graphics, but unlike the other two games it doesn’t stream very well, with the screen often becoming filled with artifacts. A bunch of control circles and a bunch of graphics cubes doesn’t quite give me the luxurious experience of exploring medieval Bohemia while sitting two feet from my PC.
Combat is a bit tricky, too.
Despite the guard I was fighting being struck by an arrow from the other guard I was fighting, I couldn’t quite master combat in KCD on my phone, and with a screen filled with control circles and blurry pixelated cubes and awash with red from my own blood, I have to say it’s not the best mobile experience I’ve ever had. I guess for now, I’ll just keep playing these games on my PC like some kind of old person. On mobile, I’ll stick with poker.
If you want to try Remotr for yourself, it’s free and you can visit the site here to learn more. I have a sneaking suspicion you’ll choose games that work a little bit better on a phone than I did.