Eight years after release, Portal 2 has received fixes to improve the state of its local multiplayer. The timing would be odd on any other occasion, but is right at home with the formal launch of the new Remote Play Together feature. Now the game is compatible and allows for two players to play in different locations, and only one needs to own the game.
Along with this comes “local co-op support for one controller player and one Mouse/Keyboard player.” In theory this is to make only the local coop session work better, but this is clearly targeted towards the Remote Play Together feature, though it reads as local coop support. Online co-op has been a feature of the game since release, if both players owned the game, but now the game is compatible with others in the new feature, where only the host player needs to own the game.
Valve is clearly making moves to pump up its Remote Play Feature. It's simple to use, and will change both the way friends play games together and how developers create them for the Steam platform. Players choose from the long list of compatible games already available, right-click on their friends list, and invite them.
Everything will originate from the host PC, including video, audio and voice, while players invited will only be seeing their screens, which include either their PC, TVs, tablets, or phones.
From the developer’s perspective, the new Remote Play Feature is a real game changer. Previously a developer may have debated putting resources into online multiplayer, which some consumers consider essential, but this might come at the cost of developing in-game content. Now developers can devote themselves entirely to creating local co-op games, secure in the knowledge that the Remote Play Feature will provide access to the multiplayer consumer market.
Valve’s decision to patch Portal 2 so long after its release shows a commitment to the new feature, and should encourage more developers to stick with Steam over other platforms that may seem attractive, like Epic Games. For most of 2019, Epic Games has worked hard to attract consumers to its platform with free games and exclusivity deals for newer titles. However, Valve has upped the stakes with the introduction of this new feature.
There is no word on how Epic Games may respond, but if they cannot emulate a similar feature, Steam will have found a great counter to the poaching of their users. Now appears to be a great time to try Portal 2. On the odd chance one has not yet played the game, it is an absolute gem.