Stadia (and its staunch fanbase) has been touting the futuristic promise of the platform for the better part of the last year to a generally apathetic gaming audience. When Stadia launched in late 2019, Google told us you could play games without needing to buy a console or PC, but considering we already bought our consoles and PCs years ago (and have been buying them for 4+ generations,) this wasn’t a concern for many. They told us you never needed to download games to a hard drive again, but (other than Call of Duty) this didn’t seem like a concern for the vast majority of players, either. They promised us that games would play better on Stadia thanks to innovations like negative latency, AI, and machine learning. Again, promises of what could be, but nothing tangible or valuable today.
The conversation around Stadia, however, has taken a full 180 now that Cyberpunk 2077 is here. The circumstances around the release of Cyberpunk has created the perfect storm to propel Stadia forward and finally make good on its promises. In many ways (but not all) Stadia’s identity has been shifted by Cyberpunk 2077 — no longer the platform of tomorrow with lofty ambitions, Stadia is now a genuine competitor that players ought to consider when they purchase new games. Cyberpunk 2077’s troubled launch may end up saving Stadia.
Compared to the PC version, Cyberpunk 2077 on console feels like a completely different game – particularly if you’re playing on PS4 and Xbox One. In order to experience Cyberpunk 2077 as the developers intended in all of its stunning, ray-traced glory, you’re going to need a fairly substantial gaming PC. To get the most basic 1080p experience on medium settings with ray-tracing — settings that will be considered minimum for most pc gaming enthusiasts — you’ll need at least an RTX 2060 GPU, a card that still costs $300+. If you’re looking at 1440p or 4k support you’ll need a 30-series graphics card, cards that are completely unavailable unless you’re willing to pay a scalper a hefty premium.
If you don’t have a beefy gaming rig or you’re not a PC player, you’re probably looking to play Cyberpunk on and Xbox or PlayStation. Trouble is, the console version of Cyberpunk 2077 is a bit of a mess. While a day one patch and hotfix on both consoles have helped squash some of the game-breaking bugs, the console version of the game looks and runs considerably worse than the PC version. The PS5 and Xbox Series X|S versions of the game won’t even be available until sometime next year. While you can get a bit of a performance boost by playing the PS4/Xbox One versions of the game on next-gen consoles, like 30-series graphics cards, the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S are nearly impossible to get ahold of.
Which brings us to the Stadia version of Cyberpunk 2077. You can play Cyberpunk in 1080p or 4K on Stadia and it has remarkable parity to the non-ray tracing PC version of the game without the need for an expensive GPU or SSD. Like every other game on Stadia, you can buy the game and start playing instantly with no download. As long as your internet connection is fast and stable, Cyberpunk 2077 is going to run on any Chrome browser, phone, or Chromecast Ultra nearly as good as it runs on PC, and lightyears better than console.
Stadia is solving (almost) all of Cyberpunk’s problems. Don’t have a good PC? Play it on Stadia in a Chrome browser. Console player? Play it on Stadia with a Chromecast. I’ve played nearly 40 hours of Cyberpunk on Stadia between my PC, 4K TV, and Pixel 4 XL and have had a pretty flawless experience. I’ve recommended the Stadia version to friends that don’t have a good enough PC and friends that are unhappy with the PS4 performance, and all of them have loved playing it on Stadia.
Stadia is currently offering a free Chromecast Ultra and Stadia controller with the purchase of Cyberpunk 2077. Stadia really feels like a win-win-win-win for anyone that wants the best Cyberpunk experience (and doesn’t have a monster gaming PC).
Stadia is not perfect. The library of games is relatively small, and the selection of games included with the Stadia Pro subscription pales in comparison to Game Pass. There is no “system seller” exclusive on Stadia yet, but given the experience that console players are having with Cyberpunk, this definitely the closest Stadia has ever gotten. Cyberpunk is literally a mobile-exclusive on Stadia, though that’s a value proposition I know most of you aren’t ready for.
The promise of Stadia has been partially realized with Cyberpunk. The next-gen console drought and the ever-expanding storage requirements for the game add theoretical value to Stadia if you’re confident that Stadia will still be around by the time the PS5 is readily available and the price of extra storage decreases, which many are not. When it comes to the value Stadia adds to Cyberpunk, there’s no room for speculation. Stadia is the best way to play the game and people are taking notice. It feels like, for the first time, the ball is in Stadia’s court.
Cyberpunk 2077 is available for PC on GOG.COM, Steam and Epic, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Stadia from December 10, 2020. When you buy Cyberpunk 2077 on GOG.COM, 100% of your money goes to CD PROJEKT Group and supports their future projects.
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These articles are posted in affiliation with GOG.COM. TheGamer received compensation from GOG Sp. z o.o. for affiliating these articles with their brand.
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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