Google won’t launch its Stadia streaming service until the end of the year, but here at E3 2019, I got to try it early.
The setup was non-traditional but a definite possible use case.I played Doom Eternal on a Pixelbook hard-wired to the internet and connected to a TV with an HDMI cable. The Stadia controller (part of the $130 Founder’s edition or $70 on its own) was connected to the Pixelbook via USB.
There was no server in the backyard of the downtown house the Google rented. Everything was coming from a data center in San Francisco. While a representative don’t know which ISP has wired the house, he said they were getting 25 Mbps down, good enough for 1080p at 60 frames per second with 5.1 surround sound. That is short, however, of the maximum 4K at 60 fps when you get 35 Mbps down.
For the most part, Doom Eternal played pretty well. After a tutorial and half hour of play I was blasting enemies with a flamethrower, performing glory kills and dashing to walls I could climb reliably. Two or three times in my half hour of play, there were slight hiccups in which I encountered lag, but other than that it was smooth sailing. Was it as exact as playing on a PC? Not exactly, but it felt pretty damn close to console play.
But that’s the question that Stadia will have to answer. For those with even the most stable internet connections, hiccups can happen. How many will gamers tolerate?
I encountered a few issues; The game itself crashed twice, which a representative from developer Bethesda that was on hand said was due to the fact that it was an early demo. I had to use the touchpad on the Pixel to relaunch the game, which led to the cursor being stuck in every gun’s reticle until I moved it offscreen. Unlike some other reporters I’ve spoken too, I was never disconnected from the game entirely due to internet issues. But the fact that they did does give some pause.
I asked the Bethesda representative if there will be any settings options at all, but was told that the Stadia edition of Doom Eternal will perform like its console brethren with only your internet connection changing graphics and performance.
One highlight is that the controller is surprisingly comfortable. It takes Sony’s DualShock 4 shape and control stick layout and mixes it with Xbox’s button layout to make an ergonomic design that was comfortable for a solid period of play.
Stadia will launch in November for $10 per month or $130 for a Founder’s Edition package that includes three months of service, a Chromecast Ultra and a midnight blue controller. When that happens, we'll be able to test in our own homes. Doom Eternal will launch November 22 on Stadia, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.