My first experience with Stadia was playing Doom Eternal for half an hour or so last week at E3, and I can't think of a better game to showcase Google's game-streaming platform. It's fast, it's ferocious, and you know what? Stadia totally works. I came into the demo expecting as much, but I'm still impressed.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the E3 show floor, in a private off-site venue, Google had Stadia running Doom Eternal on a big-screen TV by way of a Chromebook with a wired internet connection.
The reps handed me a Stadia Controller (it's nicer-feeling than it looks online), some beefy headphones, and pretty much let me have at it. After working through Doom's tutorial and getting into the demon-slaying campaign proper, it only took a few minutes for thoughts of Stadia and cloud-based game streaming to slip out of my mind. The experience felt natural – like I was playing on a console.
That's the important bit, really. I'm sure Stadia will have its wonky moments, especially at home, in the wild. I'm sure you could put together a side-by-side comparison and start to notice imperfections.
But in the moment, while I was playing, that became irrelevant. I was so enthralled. If my Doom Eternal demo is anything to go by, the 20-to-25-Mbps experience (1080p, 60fps) will be excellent.
That's not to say I'm sold on Stadia, though. Not at all. I'm wary of everything surrounding the tech, whether it's the pricing model, bandwidth woes for data-capped users, or concerns over long-term game ownership. (What does the service look like a decade from now?) I think paying full retail price for a big-name game on Stadia will take getting used to – and mentally, I'm not quite there yet.
With Sony and Microsoft becoming increasingly serious about streaming as we strap in for the PlayStation 5 and Project Scarlet generation in 2020 (!), these next few years are going to come at us fast. I'm excited –and nervous – to see how it shakes out. This might be wishful thinking right now, but it's encouraging to consider how these platforms could open doors for more people to get into gaming.
However you see streaming, good or bad, I think we can all agree that Doom Eternalis gonna slap.