Did you know you can play Forza Horizon 5 and other top-line video games in a 2022 Polestar 2? We’re not talking about using a Steam Deck or a gaming laptop in the car, either—you can play directly on the built-in 11.0-inch infotainment screen.
The Polestar 2’s infotainment system runs on Android Automotive OS, so it’s like an Android tablet. Earlier this year, a web browser called Vivaldi became available to download as an app for the Polestar 2 via the Google Play Store (it’s also the first browser for Android Automotive). Being a full-featured, 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
To make it work, first you need to be on a cloud-based gaming service such as Google’s Stadia or Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming via Game Pass Ultimate. Second, you need a decent internet connection. Our 2022 Polestar 2 test car came with onboard 4G LTE cellular data service, and it worked well enough to keep the streaming service going.
Although onscreen touch-input works with some games, a traditional hand-held controller is much preferred. However, we discovered 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 to connect the controller through 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 solely for charging.
The Gaming Experience
We began by trying out Google’s Stadia to play Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order—just like we did in a Tesla. Due to the Polestar 2’s vertical screen orientation, the actual viewable gameplay area isn’t as large as it is in a Tesla Model S. However, the gameplay is as smooth, if not better, and less buggy. After we connected with the force and fought off an AT-ST, we hyperjumped to Xbox Cloud Gaming. The Stadia controller at first appeared to not be supported, but simply fiddling with the thumb sticks allowed the browser to register the controller, and it then worked just like an Xbox controller.
We launched Forza Horizon 5 to jump into some Baja racing action in a Ford Bronco, and the audio came through the Polestar’s speakers to provide a somewhat immersive experience. Once we won a few races and explored the game’s beautiful virtual Mexico, we switched to try another popular title. (Because cellular connectivity can be unstable at times, we don’t recommend jumping into any intense online multiplayer games.)
We launched back into space and played Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, a hugely fun single-player action-adventure game with an award-winning narrative and story. This game makes higher system demands due to its graphics, but thanks to all the rendering happening 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 Much Potential
You can play proper video games in a Polestar 2, but here’s the downer: You can only use the web browser when parked, and to ensure safety, streaming video will continue only with audio if driving commences. Nonetheless, it’s a more elegant and less polluting approach than strapping a gasoline generator to the 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 comes as an unintended benefit of the web browser, and we were surprised the Stadia controller actually worked. But considering how many day-to-day tasks and entertainment solutions 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 it all worked. All this might look like just a small move, but Polestar is certainly stepping in the right direction to embrace a software-defined automotive future.
Looks good! More details?