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Hands-On: Is the Sony PlayStation 5 Integration In the Afeela EV Any Fun?

When we first heard the news that Sony (or, more specifically, Sony Honda Mobility) was developing an electric car, most of us at MotorTrend had the same thought at the same time: Surely, Sony would turn it into the ultimate portable PlayStation gaming console. Now we have an answer: Yes, you will be able to play PS games in the car—provided you already own a PlayStation console, that is. Instead of a built-in PlayStation unit, the Afeela uses Sony’s existing PS Remote Play system to connect the car to the owners’ PlayStation at home.

Are those groans we hear? Yeah, we know that PS Remote Play can be less than optimal. It relies heavily on the speed and latency of one’s remote internet connection. Games requiring low latency—fast-paced first-person shooters, for example—don’t always work so well, even on home WiFi. The full-on gaming experience via mobile internet seems like a stretch, at least to us Los Angelinos: ‘Round these parts, we can barely keep a cell phone call connected while transitioning from one freeway to another. How can we expect to stay alive in DOOM Eternal?

The supposed good news, Sony-Honda Mobility told us, is that the vehicular version of PlayStation remote relies on the Afeela’s 5G connectivity. That’s not much consolation, since 5G is, in this country at this moment in time, not exactly setting the airwaves ablaze. (Must be the interference from those 5G chips injected along with our COVID vaccines.) Although we’re some time away from realizing 5G’s true potential, that potential is there.

Last year, Sony demonstrated the low latency of the 5G network with a video showing the Vision S prototype being driven on a track in Germany from a remote setup in Japan. We’re not sure how much bandwidth is required to drive a real car versus driving one in Gran Turismo 7, but really, how far off can it be? Driving is driving, right… right?

We had the opportunity to sample the ittiest-bittiest bit of the Sackboy video game from the Afeela concept’s driver’s seat. The car was having connectivity issues, and we were only able to sample a small portion of the game’s first screen, as any in-depth quest for Dreamer Orbs, we were told, would likely cause a crash (of the game, not the car). To be fair to Sony, we’ll remind you that we were sampling the games on the Afeela concept car, a very early technology demo several years removed from the final version.

And no, unlike the gaming system built into the Plaid version of the Tesla Model S, you can’t use the steering wheel as a controller (at least, you couldn’t in the prototype)—we used a standard PS5 controller, connected by Bluetooth. We asked about a PS5 controller dock. One of the Sony staffers told us that as a gamer that’s something he’d like to see, but so far there were no firm plans. (We don’t see how a dock could be fitted without interrupting the smooth lines of the Afeela concept’s interior.)

Sony Honda Mobility does have time on its side, as first deliveries for the Afeela car are three years in the future. On the technology side, a lot can (and will) happen in three years. 5G should be more mature, and the PS5 may well be old hat—another reason PS Remote Play is a better solution. By the time the Afeela production car goes on sale, Sony could well be up to the PlayStation 7. Remote connectivity ensures Afeela buyers aren’t stuck with the video-game console equivalent of a cassette deck.

Still, Sony is relying on a lot of technology still under development to make the in-car gaming experience possible. The company might want to consider throwing a real-life PS5 in the trunk—y’know, just as a backup.

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