Google Stadia Preview: First impressions of the streaming service from E3 2019

Google Stadia has revealed lots of information for its upcoming gaming platform Google Stadia, including price, release date and games.

Google Stadia is a system for streaming triple-A titles like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to your phone, tablet, PC or TV. Trusted Reviews has compiled everything you need to know about Google Stadia including all the latest news, release date, price, games and more.

We had a chance to go hands-on with Google Stadia at E3 2019. Read on for our full preview alongside all the latest news, games, release info and more for the streaming service.

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Google Stadia Preview – Hands-on at E3 2019

Google Stadia is supremely impressive technology, showcasing a streaming future that holds unparalleled potential – yet it also presents a multitude of problems that question my love for the medium in the first place. The company’s vision of the future isn’t in consoles of peripherals, but a gaming experience where everything happens in the cloud.

It’s hard to fault Google’s ambition here, and Stadia as a fledgling technology has already impressed me. Although with only a few months from the November 2019 launch, there are still multiple kinks to work out for the public to really enjoy what the service has to offer.

At E3 2019 I sat down and spent 30 minutes or so with DOOM Eternal on Stadia, and was told it was running at 1080p on a Chromebook while being streamed to a larger display in front of me.

The data center it was drawing the gameplay from was located in San Francisco as I sat in a comfortable lounge in Downtown Los Angeles. These were presumably optimal conditions, so I expected Stadia to work without missing a beat.

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Google Stadia Preview

Although DOOM Eternal was perfectly playable in this way, I’d never choose it over native hardware that promised more consistent performance and lack of latency across the board. From the tutorial, aiming felt great, essentially nailing what I’d expect from a console or PC being in the room. I could pull of headshots flawlessly while bounding across the room without issue.

However, the same fluidity can’t be lauded upon image quality, which was inconsistent at times. Upon turning the camera, environments would appear muddy and artefacts obvious as Google Stadia tried to draw in the image at a 1080p target resolution. Having already played DOOM Eternal on a high-end system, the difference was like night and day. Which begs the question, why would someone with a modern console opt for Stadia?

Performance failed to hit the 60fps target I’ve come to expect from id Software’s shooter series, making it harder to keep moving in the chaos of a firefight or fully comprehend the demons slowly surrounding you. I imagine Stadia is perfect for slower-paced genres, like platformers and action-adventure experiences, but with something like DOOM Eternal, visual and performance clarity is paramount. In my demo, that’s not what I got.

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Google Stadia Preview

Google Stadia controller preview – How does it feel to use?

While I still have some concerns about Stadia itself, the controller is absolutely gorgeous. It feels intuitive to use thanks to clever thumbstick and button layout across the board. Buttons react with a satisfying compression, each command slickly executed with or without latency.

Thumbsticks are equally impressive, allowing for razor-sharp responses in shooters like DOOM Eternal. Unfortunately I didn’t find myself in a position to use the d-pad, although it feels robust against your fingers and should be ideal for games that demand it.

Alongside the usual bells and whistles, there are buttons for the following functions – Start, Select, Google Assistant and Gameplay Capture/Streaming. It’s taking cues from modern controller design while also putting its own spin of things, and I really dig it. Google has confirmed it will be compatible with other consoles and devices too, if the design tickles your fancy and you want to pick one up.

Early Impressions

As I mentioned earlier, Google Stadia still has so much untapped potential, and I feel it’s still too early in the world of on-demand streaming for it to really capitalize on a huge audience.

I’m willing to be proven wrong later this year, but seeing DOOM Eternal falter under optimal conditions has left me doubtful.

Google Stadia Connect news – Price, games and more confirmed

Google detailed lots of information regarding Google Stadia during its Connect livestream event prior to E3 2019. If you want a recap, watch the Stadia Connect video below. But don’t worry if you can’t be bothered watching it, as we’ve rounded up all the information further down.

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Google Stadia Release date – When does it launch?

Google Stadia will launch in November 2019 in 14 countries, including the US, Canada and the UK. For this year you’ll need to pay the Stadia Pro subscription of £8.99 per month for the 4K streaming subscription, but in 2020 Google will launch a Base subscription model that will be free to stream games in Full HD. You’ll have to buy games separately with this free model though, with no access to the library of ‘older’ games that Stadia Pro offers.

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Google Stadia

What is Google Stadia?

Google Stadia is a new gaming streaming platform, which allows you to play modern AAA games without the need for high-powered hardware. By paying for a subscription, users will be able to stream the likes of Assassin’s Creed and Destiny 2 to a Google Pixel 3 smartphone, laptop, desktop or tablet.

Because the heavy processing is done via computers in the cloud, your device becomes little more than a glorified screen. That means Stadia will support up to 4K resolution at 60fps at launch, and it has plans to hit 8K and 120fps in future, even if your device would normally struggle to run Pong.

To get this kind of impressive performance, Google is using its global infrastructure of data centers to try and ensure that a server is always close to the player. Google’s vision is to allow people to go from watching a trailer for a game to jumping straight in by just pressing play, with “no download, no patch, no update and no install.”

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Google Stadia black, white, wasabi controllers

Google Stadia Price – How much will Stadia cost?

Google Stadia Pro subscription will cost $9.99 per month. This top-tier subscription model allows you to stream games at up to 4K at 60fps. You’ll also get access to a library of ‘older’ games with this subscription, but it seems you’ll have to buy modern games separately as they won’t be included. You will get Destiny 2: The Collection with Stadia Pro though.

Preorder: Google Stadia Founder’s Edition for just $129.99

Stadia Base will also launch in 2020, which allows users to use Google’s streaming platform for free, but the resolution will be capped at Full HD at 60fps. You’ll also be limited to stereo sound instead of surround sound, while you won’t get access to any game library, so every single game will need to be purchased separately.

You’ve also got the option of buying the Stadia Founder’s Edition, which includes first-time access to Stadia, comes bundled with Chromecast Ultra which lets you stream Stadia to your TV, an exclusive Night Blue Stadia Controller and a three-month subscription to Stadia Pro for both yourself and a friend. Additional controllers can be purchased separately too, costing $69 each, with three different color options available: Clearly White, Just Black and Wasabi.

destiny 2

Google Stadia games

Google announced a very long list of games that will release on Google Stadia, while also showing extensive support from third-party developers.

Some of the most notable games include:

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint
  • DOOM Eternal
  • The Division 2
  • Destiny 2
  • Tomb Raider Trilogy
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood
  • Metro Exodus
  • Football Manager 2020
  • Just Dance 2020
  • Rage 2
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Thumper
  • GRID
  • Borderlands 3
  • Final Fantasy XV

Even more games are likely to be confirmed for Stadia during E3 2019, so stay tuned for the latest updates.

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Google Stadia Specs – How powerful is Stadia?

Crucially, Stadia is ‘in the cloud’ and so you’ll never see the rigs pushing pixels around your screen, but the machines are far from ethereal and have some serious grunt behind them. They are packing a 2.7GHz x86 processor with 16GB RAM, but Google has also partnered with AMD for custom GPUs, which apparently have 10.7 teraflops of power.

Bear in mind the Xbox One X, the most powerful console on the market currently, can only muster 6 teraflops. It’s hard to get a handle on exactly how well it’ll perform based on this, seeing as teraflops don’t really indicate performance, but it shows that there’s some serious grunt going on behind the scenes.

Google Stadia multiple platforms

One game that is coming to the service is Doom Eternal, and it looks like it’ll be a technical tour de force, supporting 4K resolution, HDR and 60fps. As Google says Stadia will support cross-platform multiplayer, there’s no reason you won’t be playing against people playing on the PS4, Switch or Xbox versions too.

While Google is clear that Stadia itself is not a box (“the data center is your platform”), the company has made a custom gamepad for it. At a glance, it looks a bit like an Xbox pad has lost a bit of weight, but Google highlights two important buttons that hint at where it seems to see Stadia as going in the long term. The capture button instantly shares with YouTube via a live stream, while the Google Assistant button opens a built-in microphone for assistance and special features within games.

“Think about the way the web works – you can easily share a link and it works seamlessly. We want games to feel that way too: instantly enjoyable with access for everyone,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, introducing Stadia.

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Google also showed off its resolution ranges, detailing what internet connection you’ll need for each resolution. Download speeds of 20 MBps are required for a recommended 1080p resolution, while you’ll need download speeds of around 30 MBps to get the ideal performance for 4K streams. The absolute minimum download speeds that Google recommends are 10 Mbps, which most home Wi-Fi networks should be able to deal with. Head to the Google Stadia website, and you’ll be able to test your connection to see whether your broadband is up to the challenge.

Are you excited for Google Stadia? Let us know what you think on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

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