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Stadia’s E3 Doom Eternal demo made me a cloud gaming believer

LOS ANGELES—Since Google’s Project Stream beta test in October and the company’s March announcement of the full Stadia platform, one question has loomed large over the service: will it actually work well enough for fast-paced, reflex-intensive games? After playing a demo of Doom Eternal for about half an hour Wednesday, I’m ready to say that the answer to that question seems to be yes—at least in Google’s controlled testing conditions.

Google invited me out to its downtown LA YouTube Gaming creator’s space—away from the Internet-congested E3 show floor—to try out the latest build of Stadia. My demo was running locally on a Pixelbook with the Chrome browser, connected to a TV via HDMI, and remotely to data centers over 300 miles away in San Francisco. The Pixelbook had a wired Internet connection that I was told was running at “about 25 Mbps” (Google wouldn’t let me run a speed test to confirm the connection quality). I controlled the demo with a Stadia controller connected to the Pixelbook via USB, but keyboard and trackpad controls also worked.

Over thirty minutes of Doom Eternal play, I’d have been hard pressed to point out any differences between the Stadia version and one running on a local PC. The 60 fps animation didn’t noticeably stutter for the entire demo, and the apparent resolution didn’t dip below 1080p either (though a Google representative said Stadia will sometimes lower that resolution briefly to maintain a smooth frame rate if and when bandwidth dips). There were no signs of video compression artifacts or the color gradients you might see in a low-res YouTube video.

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