So, you found a fantastic looking co-op game on Steam. You’re about to message your friend to buy it as well so you can play together, but then you see it: no online play, just local co-op. It’s a bummer to be sure, getting together just to play a video game isn’t an option a lot of the time (especially right now). But fortunately, Steam does actually have a way to solve this problem.
Welcome to ICYDK (In Case You Didn’t Know), a series where we offer tips and tricks that aren’t necessarily new but may have gone under the radar or otherwise not be well known.
Steam Remote Play Together
Steam Remote Play has been around for a while. It’s a free service Valve provides that allows you to use your primary gaming PC as a streaming box of sorts for other devices. It allows you to play high-end PC games on anything from your phone to your tablet—granted that you have a good enough internet connection.
Last October, Valve announced that it would be expanding the service with Steam Remote Play Together, which allows you to stream games to other players to play local co-op games over the internet. Now, there have been attempts at similar services in the past, but Remote Play Together is different. Not only is Remote Play Together completely free, but it was also able to shed a lot of the complications these services tend to have since it’s directly incorporated into Steam.
It Just Works
So how does it work? It’s easy—just launch your favorite local co-op game, go to your friends list, right-click your friends and click on “Remote Play Together,” and you’re done. Steam will send your friends an invite to join your game and after they click on it you’ll be playing together. No fuss, no need for anything complicated like port-forwarding or using paid server providers—it just works. This is especially great since only the player hosting the match has to own the game.
The connection is pretty stable, but just like with any online game, if you have a weak internet connection you will suffer lag and higher response times. Remote Play Together is also normally limited to four-players. But, if everyone involved has a good enough connection, you can actually exceed that limit.
When you join a Remote Play Together lobby with other players, you’ll automatically connect via Steam’s voice chat as well so that way you can easily communicate. You can, of course, use a separate voice system like Discord, FaceTime, or a standard phone call.
What Games Work With it?
Publishers and developers do need to enable Remote Play Together on their games, so be on the lookout for games that have the “Remote Play Together” tag on their store pages so you can be sure they’ll work. Now, pretty much every local co-op game of note on Steam has enabled this by now, but still, it’s something worth keeping an eye out for.
We should address non-Steam games that have been added to Steam though. These won’t work, as we said previously, publishers need to specifically enable the feature. That can’t be done if the game was never published on Steam in the first place. That includes games played with an emulator—trying to load up Mario Kart Double Dash in Steam for a remote co-op session just isn’t going to work.
You’re Gonna Need Some Games
Steam Remote Play Together isn’t any good if you don’t have local co-op games to play. Valve has curated a list of quality local co-op games on the Remote Play Together page. This list is organized by genre, from campaign-focused cooperative titles and puzzles games to competitive versus games—so there should be at least a few games that pique your interest. Keep in mind that the remote streaming will be affected by lag.
Games with super-twitchy, time-based inputs, like one-on-one fighters, might be especially affected if one or more players have a sub-optical connection. If you’re having trouble with these games, try switching to something more casual or turn-based.
While Remote Play Together might not be able to perfectly capture what it’s like to play games together in person, it gets a step closer than most online services by simply opening up the door to a wider array of games to play. And this service is great for developers as well, as there are many indie devs out there who simply don’t have the resources to add in full online multiplayer.
With no costs to host or join a Remote Play Together session, there’s no reason not to at least try it out. You don’t need to sign up for anything either, just open up your favorite co-op game through Steam and you’ll be good to go.