Did you know that you can play Forza Horizon 5 and other top-of-the-line video games on a 2022 Polestar 2? We’re not talking about using a Steam Deck or gaming laptop in the car, either: you can play games right on the built-in 11.0-inch infotainment screen.
The Polestar 2’s infotainment system runs on the Android Automotive operating system, so it’s like an Android tablet. Earlier this year, a web browser called Vivaldi was made available to download as an app for Polestar 2 via the Google Play Store (it’s also the first browser for Android Automotive). Being a full Chromium-based browser, Vivaldi includes features like video streaming and controller support, and that’s how we can play Forza Horizon 5 in the car.
How to set it up
For it to work, you must first be on a cloud-based gaming service, like Google’s Stadia or Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming through Game Pass Ultimate. Second, you need a decent internet connection. Our 2022 Polestar 2 test car came with 4G LTE mobile data service built in, and it worked well enough to keep the streaming service going.
Although on-screen touch input works with some games, a traditional handheld controller is preferred. However, we found that the browser could only register a Stadia controller and didn’t recognize an Xbox controller, so that’s an important point to note. All you need to do is connect the controller via a USB-C cable to the front USB port. There are two USB ports, but only the one with a white outline supports data and power; the other is for charging only.
The gaming experience
We started by trying out Google’s Stadia to play Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, just like we did on a Tesla. Due to Polestar 2’s vertical screen orientation, the actual viewable play area isn’t as large as on a Tesla Model S. However, gameplay is just as smooth, if not better, and with fewer bugs. After connecting with the force and fighting an AT-ST, we jumped over to Xbox Cloud Gaming. At first, the Stadia controller seemed unsupported, but simply playing around with the thumbsticks allowed the browser to register the controller, and then it worked like an Xbox controller.
We launched Forza Horizon 5 to jump into the Baja racing action in a Ford Bronco, and the audio was fed through the Polestar speakers to provide a somewhat immersive experience. Once we’ve won a few races and explored the game’s beautiful virtual Mexico, we’ll switch to trying out another popular title. (Because cellular connectivity can be unstable at times, we don’t recommend jumping into any intense online multiplayer games.)
We went back to space and played Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, a very fun single player action-adventure game with an award-winning narrative and story. This game is more system demanding due to its graphics, but thanks to all the rendering being done in the cloud (Xbox Series X-based servers), we were able to play without a high-end GPU.
A full-featured web browser can unlock a lot of potential
You can play proper video games in a Polestar 2, but here’s the disappointment: you can only use the web browser when parked, and to ensure safety, the video feed will continue with audio only if you start driving. Nonetheless, it’s a more elegant and cleaner approach than strapping a gas-powered generator to your car and running an extension cord through the rear window to power your Xbox Series S.
In reality, being able to access the game streaming service is an unwanted benefit of the web browser, and we were surprised that the Stadia controller actually worked. But considering the number of daily tasks and entertainment solutions that can be accessed via the Internet, a full-featured web browser can certainly unlock many potential applications of in-car infotainment systems. We also tried some video streaming services and did some shopping with online retailers, and everything worked. All of this may seem like just a small step, but Polestar is certainly taking a step in the right direction to embrace a software-defined automotive future.
You can see it well! More details?