I have been looking forward to Google Stadia since it has been announced. I thought and still do think it could be the future of gaming, however, I don’t think it is there, even with good internet. The possibility of being able to just have my whole library of games or even to just a super-fast amazing computer and have access to it on some hub at my house is probably my ideal setup. This is exactly what Stadia would be if it didn’t fall flat on its face.
I need to preface this review by saying: I have amazing internet. Additionally, I like to consider myself a Google stan, but neither of these things could save Stadia. I started this test with my Playstation 4 controller hooked up to my computer and with Stadia loading in my Chrome browser. I soon realized that using my mouse and keyboard was easier and more responsive. I was able to test Stadia across multiple games across game-type. I attempted Destiny 2, Farming Simulator, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, and Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration.
The first game that was played was Tomb Raider and I got to maybe the first challenge but something felt off. I couldn’t tell if it was the age of the game showing or just Stadia downgrading the quality. There was some pixelation and distortion in the cut scenes and nothing really felt smooth. With these graphics issues, I switched it up. I hopped into Destiny 2 and decided, “Why not play a multiplayer match? I am not nor have I ever admitted to being the best multiplayer FPS gamer but even I have been known to get a kill or two in a match. That said, I got through one multiplayer match and decided that was enough.
While playing the one multiplayer match I didn’t get a kill but on top of that, moving left and right got me nothing but what can only be described as a stutter, lag, frame drop, and quality drop in the game overall. This happened with not just multiple people, but even when I would find myself backed into a corner, one-on-one with an opponent facing me down. If I was zoomed into the sights I could almost never catch up on tracking the opponent, even with a high DPI on my mouse.
Frustrated, I turned to Rise of the Tomb Raider. I was expecting that the performance and graphics would improve over Tomb Raider. This was the case for responsiveness but the graphics still felt lacking. Even at 1080p they felt blurry and were never once sharp unless I was on a cut scene. Only then would I get a sharp texture here or there. After making my way up and over the mountain to where the avalanche starts I died a couple of times and noticed that when I would load back in I would get a strong pixelation/distortion effect that would take me out of the game. This happened a couple of times and I decided that there has to be a game that Stadia can handle without a weird hiccup.
The last game I tried was Farming Simulator and I made it all the way into the game before I noticed any lag. Once in the game, the lag and stuttering were so horrible as I did slow movement from side to side, front to back, I just had to stop playing.
So now, here I am writing a review at 12:35 am wishing I had better news about a system I had been waiting for since it was announced. However, Google Stadia just isn’t there yet. While it is sad and disappointing, all Stadia does right is show us both how far technology has come in the past 10 years but also how far it still has to go.