Google Stadia Has A Comfortable Controller and Great Potential
My experience with Google Stadia was a mixed bag, but if the platform has a solid launch I think it will have a bright future.
Over the weekend at PAX West, I got to play Google Stadia for the first time. Stadia is Google’s new video game platform which will allow players to play games on their TVs, tablets, computers, and phones via streaming. This is the first big attempt from a major company to create a streaming platform and it is likely a look into what the future of gaming will be. Since the announcement of Stadia, the industry seems to have mixed feelings. Personally, I already have it pre-ordered and am looking forward to seeing how it turns out. I was able to try Google Stadia out in a controlled environment at PAX West, and by the end of my thirty-minute hands-on time I had both positive and negative experiences. The thing that worries me most is if the platform will be ready by their release window of November 2019.
When it comes to Google Stadia, the company’s goal is to have every game to run at 60 FPS at any given time. If your personal connection cannot handle the resolution it is at while still running at 60 FPS, the resolution will drop to compensate. The bandwidth recommendations are 10 Mbps (megabits per second) for 720p resolution, 15-25 for 1080p, and 35 for 4K. The platform will also be HDR compatible. My setup was set at 25 Mbps through a hardwired ethernet connection, and the two titles I could try out were DOOM Eternal and Mortal Kombat 11. I began with DOOM Eternal running on a Google Chromebook but displayed on a TV. I played through the tutorial to get a grasp of the controls and the brand new controller.
The Google Stadia controller is impressive. It has bits and pieces of the Dualshock 4, Xbox One, and Switch Pro controllers altogether. There is a great weight and feel to it. It’s not too heavy like the Xbox One controller but isn’t super light like the DualShock 4. It carries triggers almost identical to those on the DualShock 4, with the build reminiscent of a less bulky Switch Pro Controller. The bumpers have their own personal uniqueness and are the best across all current platforms in my opinion. The back of the controller has a matte feel while the front is more smooth. Overall, I thoroughly love the controller and it may become my second favorite to use after the Xbox One’s.
The controller also has more buttons than your standard consoles version. In the middle are five buttons. The bottom one showing off the Stadia logo is the power button. On the top left is the “menu button” which is planned to be the button players press to look at the Stadia menus such as a friends list. On the opposite side is the “start button” that function as a pause button for games. The bottom left is the Google Assistant button which is pretty straight forward. Players will be able to use Google Assistant asking for requests whatever they may be. Lastly is the “capture button” on the bottom right which will take screenshots and videos.
Getting back to DOOM Eternal, the game played well and looked good until it crashed on me. Jumping back in there was a portion of the campaign that I played. Halfway through, it crashed on me again. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to finish the mission because I wanted to try out the platform on the phone available before my time was up. This is where I played Mortal Kombat 11 and it was very impressive. The game looks just as gorgeous as if it were on a TV and it played incredibly well. However, if players want to use Stadia on phones they must have a Google Pixel 3, at least for now.
Google Stadia has the potential to be great and I still plan to support it. I did experience two crashes, but the platform is still in beta. That being said, I’m concerned that it won’t be ready by November when considering the crashing problems I had with my demo. With this being a platform competing against the likes of PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo, I don’t think Google can drop the ball on this. This is a new way to play major AAA titles and if it isn’t running smooth enough at launch I feel like a lot of gamers are going to return to their trusted consoles and never give Stadia a second thought.