A year with Stadia & thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077

On November 27th 2019,  I wrote about receiving my Stadia Founders Edition Kit, and a year on, I thought an update on how I’m finding the system was long overdue. 

As I stated last year, I’ve been playing games on computers and consoles since they were first released to the public. I do not class myself as a hardcore gamer, so this is just a very brief overview having played both Stadia Pro (premium subscription service ) and the ‘free’ service when playing games purchased on the Stadia store.

I’m pleased to say over the last year I have only been unable to play stadia due to connection  issues twice, which may have indeed have more to do with my internet provider than Google. Sure, we would all love to think that these services would never go down and when they do its frustrating, but thats life. While I haven’t owned a playstation in years, I know firsthand that the XBOX service was not without it’s outages and bottlenecks. Apart from this one event, the games on Stadia have always loaded at an acceptable speed and the streaming quality is always good.  I say good because I’m British and we are not known for heaping praise. 😂 I tend to only play shooter games (because that’s what I like ) and as my eyes are old, unless the game drops below 1080, I probably wouldn’t notice if it only happens for short periods of time. Yes Pro Stadia is meant to stream at 4k, but I always assumed that only people in big cities on ultra fast connections would get that. I live in a coastal town in Cumbria (20min from the Lake District) I get a download speed of between 45 -62 depending how the wind is blowing 😂 and the image always looks fine.  Now if I was back where I lived in the Scottish Borders I would not have even been able to have Stadia, so as Tech reviews always say… ‘your mileage may vary’. 

If your aim is to bash Stadia, then image quality could be a place you could set up camp. I’m sure you could find times where you could say …’ that’s not 4k’, however  I think most of us that brought into Stadia straight out of the gate, knew we were buying into a brave new world and not digital perfection. We liked the idea of games without expensive consoles.  Maybe, like me, you just viewed Stadia as a greener option, less plastic and ultimate landfill. Maybe I’m just a cynical wizened old fool however I take what is said in advertisements with a large pinch of salt, so I always dial my expectations back that said Stadia has, in many ways, outstripped my initial expectations. I have not regretted moving from XBOX to Stadia, and while there are legions of people on twitter from other gaming systems that will tell you Stadia is not up to scratch and it’s doomed to ultimately fail, that’s just par for the course.

If you’re invested in the playstation, xbox or pc gaming universe, then I see no reason why you would be interested in Stadia or begrudge its existence. All products have their fans and that’s fine, difference makes for an interesting world. People like me buy products for what they can offer rather than a name badge. I use Stadia because it is a cost effective way to get back into gaming when my x-box became slow and outdated.

Getting back to image quality and game play….

Alas I lost my original Founders name when I deleted the google account it was fixed to.  This was a personal choice and nothing to do with google or Stadia. I do regret that decision now, as I have to run around universes tied to a name and a hashtag something Founders didn’t have to do. The reason I raise this now is that when I came back to Stadia, some weeks later, I decided not to pay for Stadia Pro and just brought one game :- Borderlands 3. When you buy a game without the pro membership, it will only play at 1080 max, personally I thought the image to be lower quality than that, but still highly playable and did not bother me. Lets be honest, if you only want to play one game and couldn’t  justify the outlay for a new console then nothing is going to touch Stadia for price. I think most would be happy just to be able to play the game they love and be forgiving on the image quality. If, on the other hand, image quality matters then paying for pro membership and a game still keeps the initial outlay at a much more realistic level. We all know that even when you buy an x-box you still end up forking out money for game pass etc. 

Not a real gamer…

The main reason I don’t consider myself a real gamer is that I only play occasionally and I’m very picky about the games I choose to play. Basically I just want to shoot stuff.  I am not really interested in story lines or chatting with other gamers, clans or badges. I just want to shoot stuff quickly and easily without a frigging manual. Therefore I play games like Destiny and Borderlands, because I can skip through all the waffle and get back to blasting stuff into oblivion. When you pay for Stadia Pro you can claim ‘free’ games which is nice, but most of the time once I have loaded them up my eyes start to glaze over. Either I have no clue what I am meant to be doing or the controls are not as I expected and I just stop playing. This is why I could never play role playing games, despite owning loads of the cool Warhammer 40k figures. I’m a plug and play type of person when it comes to games. Scrolling through manuals and walk-throughs just to get to then next section of shooting stuff is not my idea of fun. That’s why the swing & jumping and timed parts of Borderlands have me screaming at the screen in frustration… If I was a coach in the NFL every play on offence would be a ‘Hell Mary’ pass and every defence would be a Blitz 🤣.

And so to Cyberpunk 2077

I use my brain a great deal during the day. In fact I’m often accused of overthinking everything, so when it comes to gaming I just want to switch my brain into standby and just blast my time away….I know this unwillingness to use my brain to play puts most games out of reach, including, in all truth, the game I’ve actually been waiting for all year long for and is as of writing now only hours away :- Cyberpunk 2077. 

As a person who went into a sweet shop in February 1977 and paid my 8p for the 1st copy of the comic 2000ad,  Cyberpunk 2077 looks and feels like a city from the pages of this beloved comic that got me through my youth :- Lawless cities, Cybernetics, cool guns and hot looking freaks.  Now, for as visually perfect Cyberpunk 2077 seems to be, it’s clearly is not just a ‘leave your brain at the door’ shooter. If it didn’t look the way it does, I wouldn’t even be thinking about playing it as it looks like I will be needing to think too much to play it well. I’m almost fully resigned to the fact that I will me hopeless at this game 😁.

However, as someone who has owned a few old rescue dogs, I know they can be taught new tricks. So I am going to give this ‘open-world, action-adventure story’ a good college try, for no other reason than that my character creation will be a perfect version of my non-binary self, something relatively new to game design. Over the past few months I been watching the Cyberpunk 2007 YouTube channel and episodes of ’night city wire’ and falling more and more in love with the aesthetics of this game.

While I guess some would ask why would you want to play a game with such a dystopian outlook, isn’t real life in 2020 depressing enough? Actually no I haven’t found 2020 depressing, I’ve found people’s unwillingness to adapt to the situation and new realities frustrating. So yes I guess I’m hoping to find some escape from the negativity of small minded people in this alternate universe where everything goes. As far as I can ascertain cyberpunk 2077 goes live at 12.00am on December 10th here in the UK so as a bit of fun I will be staying up into the wee hours to play the game.

Cyberpunk 2077 update 21st December

So generally Cyberpunk 2077 has failed to live up to the hype, something that in a non COVID year people may have been able to tolerate. As lockdowns continue with no end in sight people are frustrated frightened and angry, so this games inability to be anything but a A+ as reaped rightly or wrongly the Wrath of social media.

I did wait up to play the game on the morning of it’s release and within two hours I went to bed unimpressed, I have only tried to play it once since then. It is my impression that this game actually plays better on Stadia than many other consoles and I know some people are enjoying it. From the moment I realised I couldn’t customise my character as much as I had believed I knew my expectation and reality were not going to align.

For me the game did not flow in a way I found enjoyable and my impression is that it has a far less ‘free flowing’ storyline than I was lead to believe. I will probably give the game a go again but to be honest sadly for me it’s a big yawn 🥱.