Google Stadia test run with Destiny 2

At this point, the challenges of finding gaming hardware is pretty common knowledge, whether it be consoles or graphics cards. Last year, people were having issues finding the Nintendo Switch in stock. Now, you can’t find an Xbox Series X or PS5 to save your life. A graphics card either. At least, not at MSRP. There are plenty being sold for 3-4x the price on reseller sites, which is obscene.

Anyway, I didn’t realize how bad things were but I figured I’d make the best of the situation and give Stadia a whirl. It streams games to your computer screen, TV, or phone, and it’s supposed to be high quality so I thought it might be a nice alternative. Maybe even something to stick with when hardware shortages end, even.

Signing up for Stadia was pretty quick. Since it’s a Google product I just ran through a few screens linking my Google account to my Stadia account, chose what to share and what not to share on the platform (games/achievements/online status/etc), linked my Bungie account and Stadia account, hit play on Destiny 2 and there I was.

A few quick things I noticed are:

  • The video quality is surprisingly poor. My GeForce 970M renders the graphics better.
  • The controls are better than I expected but I can feel the latency drag.
  • I couldn’t access in-game chat in Destiny 2 or see anyone on my Clan Roster except for one guy, so I’m thinking there’s a weird hang-up where Clan interaction is platform specific. I still had my Clan banner and received Clan bonuses, though.
  • The actual Stadia interface and enabling a livestream are not difficult to use, but the menus aren’t very intuitive either.
  • Stadia will work in Microsoft Edge, but it doesn’t perform well.
  • When you open Stadia in Chrome, look for a + icon in the address bar. You can turn the website into a web app and pin it to your taskbar.

Here are two videos I created of Destiny 2 gameplay on Stadia:

Stadia gameplay footage of a Vanguard Strike called The Shadow Keep
Completing a public event on Europa

Connection

Connection speeds are pretty important with something like Stadia. I have a 300/30 connection with low latency. We regularly watch 4k on a 53″ UHD TV with no problems. So, I can’t imagine that negatively impacted my experience.

Summary

Long story short, I can’t see myself paying for games with missing functionality (like the in-game chat) that I probably already own on Steam to stream them at lower quality than my laptop can produce. I don’t actually need to game on my phone that badly.

With a $9.99 per month fee for Pro, which doesn’t seem to offer anything worthwhile at this point (the free monthly games are all low quality except maybe Hitman and a Tomb Raider title), I can’t see keeping Stadia past the free trial. I’m not really clear on the pricing, but some games are tagged “Pro”, so it makes me think I have to pay for the sub and still pay for the game and if I cancel my sub I lose the game?

For Stadia to be worthwhile, the library of available games would have to be bigger. For the subscription to work, it would have to be like Netflix. Bump up the price a bit and allow people to play what they want as much as they want. Right now, if you catch games on sale on Steam you can build your library at a reasonable price and not have to worry about the technical issues that can come with streaming games.

Stadia right now feels like something you would use in an emergency if your regular gaming system broke and you needed some time to get new parts or a new console.

A New Addiction: Ingress

A screenshot of the Ingress Scanner on iOS
A screenshot of the Ingress Scanner on iOS after an hour of testing things out.

I recently came across the blog post of a friend in Rome who has been playing Ingress consistently for about a year and recently reached level 16. I remembered trying to play Ingress when it was first released but I didn’t have a phone that was capable of it, and my tablet at the time was wifi only, so I gave up. After reading my friend’s blog post, I checked to see if Ingress had been released on iOS and found that it had, last year. So, I got it right away.

The app is kind of buggy. Using the Comm often causes the app to lock up entirely, which is bizarre, since that doesn’t happen with a 3rd party app that accesses the web-based version of the Intel  map and Comm. Maybe Google wants people to get interested in Ingress and then go buy an Android phone that it will work better on? I don’t know, but I’ll just wait and hope the bugs are ironed out.

Anyway, figuring things out was a little difficult, but that’s mostly my own fault. There are training modules that you can use to get a sense of what you’re supposed to do be doing, but I just threw myself into it. I was lucky enough to find a few neutral portals in my area that I could take over, surprisingly on my own street. When my name started popping up on the map, players from both factions welcomed me to the game and the neighborhood and started sending me tips on how to improve my level and gameplay. I quickly found out about portal keys, fields and Mind Units.

My mission? Turn the neighborhood blue by capturing and maintaining portals (the things that look like sun flares on the scanner image above) and fight off the green team, which is working for aliens who want to destroy human society as we know it, which may not be a completely bad thing, given people’s propensity for violence and stupidity, but what about art and culture? What about self-determination and the preservation of a uniquely human history? What about beer? So, yeah, I’m working for the Resistance.