Back in June I pre-ordered the Founder’s Edition of Google Stadia, Google’s new game streaming service that launched earlier this week. I’ve set Stadia up and I’ve played a little bit of Destiny 2 just to get an idea of how different it feels to play a game I’m extremely familiar with. Here are my initial thoughts.
Once you’ve got everything set up, the Stadia controller actually makes a lot of sense. The Founder’s Edition came with three months of Stadia Pro and a Chromecast Ultra, which is what I’m using to stream games to my TV. If I want to use Stadia, all I need to do is hold the Stadia button on the controller, and it sets everything up within 30 seconds. This start up time is a little slower than I’m used to with the PS4 or an Xbox One, but as far as ease of use goes, this is the best.
There’s no need to turn a console on or log into stuff once Stadia loads up, it’s all just there for you. The Stadia button is also used to turn off the service, or close a game, which is amazing for me because it makes the transition from PS4 so much easier.
Despite the fact that I pre-ordered the Founder’s Edition of Stadia, I didn’t get an invite code until about midnight UK time. This meant that setup was impossible all day, and I couldn’t use the service, which worries me a little about how Google will manage Stadia in the future. With that aside, the setup process is a little lengthy for my liking, but it would be worse for anyone without a Google account. There are two apps to download if you want to get Stadia working through Chromecast, and the fact that the entire service is initially run through a smartphone feels odd. I wonder if there will be anyone out there with a phone that can’t download the Stadia app, preventing them from setting the service up?
However, once I had my code, the overall setup was smooth, if long. The Chromecast and controller both connect to wi-fi and each other straight away, and even on a connection that was playing up at the time, I saw no problems with Stadia itself at this, or any, point.
Because I’ve piled hundreds of hours into the series, I played Destiny 2 first on Stadia. I have to say that the game actually runs faster on Stadia, and feels a lot more responsive. I’m not sure what was happening for those reviewers who saw a lot of latency in their time with the service, but my time with Destiny 2 was on a par with how the game plays on PS4, in terms of actual gameplay only though. When it comes to visuals, Stadia is a big downgrade for the game, and it looked noticeably worse. I have a PS4 Pro, which might be the cause of the downgrade, since a streamed version of a game could never match up to that power. Overall though, Destiny 2 plays very well on Stadia. The only issue I thought I saw was a delay in public events, but I haven’t played enough to say that this is a definite issue yet.
I’ll be working my way through the games on Stadia over the coming weeks and letting you know how they play. Let me know if you’ve got one that you’re desperate to know about in the comments.