Digital Foundry is a YouTube channel that typically offers in-depth reviews at the technical side of video games, like how resolutions and framerates stack up on different consoles (I love their massive Doom port comparison). The channel today uploaded a video showing off how the Stadia version of Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 stacked up against PCs and consoles, and there are a few interesting points.
Before continuing, it’s worth mentioning that Stadia’s experience relies entirely on your internet connection and the distance to the nearest Google data center. Digital Foundry’s testing was further complicated by the fact that the main producer was unable to stream Stadia at 4K, so 4K testing was done by another person on the team (presumably in a different location with a different distance to the data center). So, don’t take the latency and responsiveness testing as the be-all and end-all of how Stadia performs.
Digital Foundry found that the free tier of Stadia streamed RDR2 at 1080p/60FPS in the web browser, but on a Chromecast Ultra, it ran at a higher 1440p resolution with a lower 30FPS framerate (2:00). It’s not clear why Stadia Pro is half as smooth, but it could be a Chromecast-specific limitation. In the team’s testing, the latency when firing a gun on Stadia was better than an Xbox One X, but slightly worse than a local PC. A gaming PC is still the fastest gun in the west (heh), but not by much, if your Stadia connection is up to par.
The graphical quality at least is universal for all Stadia users, and besides the video compression that is required to stream dozens of frames per second, the game doesn’t look bad at all. Digital Foundry found that the visuals closely matched the ‘High’ video preset on PC and the 4K mode on the XBox One X, with similar textures and lighting effects.
You should really watch the full video if you’re interested in all the details, but in short, a third-person shooter streamed across the internet works better than most people would probably expect. Fingers crossed some of the platform’s early technical issues will get worked out.