Correction: This article originally stated that Stadia users would not be able to play games they had purchased if those games were removed from sale – this is incorrect. The article has been updated accordingly.
To say the launch of Cyberpunk 2077 has been a mess would be a gross understatement. In a week that has involved gamers returning their PS4 and Xbox One copies of the game in droves, and CD Projekt Red falsely guaranteeing refunds to said gamers, the dream of diving into Night City with previous gen hardware has crashed and burned. And yet, the experience of players on Google Stadia couldn’t be more removed from this week’s antics.
When it became apparent that gamers and critics wouldn’t have a proper look at Cyberpunk 2077 on older consoles until launch day, my gut warned me to avoid these copies like the plague. At the same time however, I don’t have a gaming PC with hardware powerful enough to run a game like Cyberpunk, leaving me with just one option: Google Stadia.
Until now, I’ve held out a healthy dose of scepticism towards Stadia and cloud gaming in general. After all, Google has a history of shutting down numerous services over the years (RIP Google Play Music), so there’s still an inherent risk with investing wholeheartedly in the Stadia concept. While these feelings haven’t been completely diminished, I do feel that Stadia has mounted a case for why it’s a valuable service in the frenetic launch of Cyberpunk 2077.
The benefits here have been two-fold. Firstly – and most importantly – the Stadia version of Cyberpunk is far more stable than its console counterpart. With the exception of a few floating objects and some ventriloquist-style dialogue, the experience has been largely fine, without any of the game-breaking bugs and PS1 Hagrid graphics currently plaguing console gamers.
Secondly, once midnight hit on December 10, I was able to bypass any downloads and dive straight into the game – something that infuriated the PC gamers on the team as they sat staring as a slow-moving progress bar. In this regard, I’d argue that Stadia offers one of the best ways to play Cyberpunk right now, and the opportunity to do so has only expanded with the recent rollout of Stadia to iPhone and iPad devices.
Any issues that I faced were largely down to my internet connection, but moments of lag or freezing can largely be bypassed if you have a high-speed connection available. Although it is worth noting that in order to play a title like Cyberpunk in 4K, you must also be a paying member of Stadia Pro, otherwise it’s good old fashioned 1080p for you.
Related: Cyberpunk 2077 Music Guide
While this week could have been a home-run for Stadia’s marketing, it’s worth pointing out that the service went offline not once, but twice in the span of just a few days. Admittedly, this is a rare occurrence for Stadia (and the majority of Google’s services for that matter), but it did remind me that cloud gaming is not a fool-proof system.
For an avid gamer, there’s nothing worse than clocking off at the end of a long day, only to find that your sole means of playing a game is unavailable due to some unforeseen technical issue. For that reason, I could never imagine having a set-up that didn’t include at least one console for gaming offline, but for power-hungry titles like Cyberpunk, Stadia may have found its best use-case yet.