Destiny 2 is one of the featured launch games for Google Stadia, which is out now. But how exactly does the Stadia version of Destiny 2 compare to the game on consoles? There are some key differences between the two that players will want to know. This not only impacts players new to Destiny 2 but also veteran players who may be using the new Cross Save feature to pick up their existing account on the new platform.
Before getting into the specifics of Destiny 2 on Stadia, this all comes with one big variable—that is, internet connection. There are a number of articles, YouTube videos, and Reddit posts detailing how horrible of an experience Stadia is for some people. And a lot of that comes down to the very nature of Stadia, a service that streams games over the internet via data centers that are running the actual game. So, every person's individual experience with Destiny 2 on Stadia has the potential to vary. What is true for one person using Stadia may not hold true for the next. What follows is one specific experience playing Destiny 2 on Stadia.
When existing players first sign into Destiny 2 on Stadia, the experience is seamless thanks to the existence of Cross Save. Anyone who bought a Founders Edition or the now-available Premiere Edition of Stadia gets Destiny 2: The Complete Collection included with purchase, so all Stadia users have to do is claim the game and they instantly have every expansion and piece of content for the game through Shadowkeep and Season of the Undying.
Console players who have not played Destiny 2 on PC may notice instantly that the game looks a bit different and that is because Destiny 2 runs at 60 FPS on Stadia, which none of the console versions do. So the overall framerate experience is smoother as to be expected from 60 FPS compared to 30 FPS that PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game are locked to. The flip side of that, however, is that the game runs at 1080p, so anyone used to running the game at 4K on PS4 Pro or Xbox One X will likely notice the resolution downgrade. The resolution also often looks a bit softer in general even when compared to the standard PS4 and Xbox One consoles running the game at 1080p as well, likely due to the fact that the game is streaming instead of playing natively on a console.
When playing Destiny 2 on a TV via the Chromecast Ultra that came in the box with the Stadia Premiere Edition, there was no visual breakdown in the form of framerate drops, screen tearing, or buffering. The Chromecast was plugged into a TV right next to the wireless router with an internet connection of 158Mbps down and 10.6Mbps down. Moving over to a 2014 Macbook Pro in the next room, running the game through Stadia on a Chrome browser did result in some occasional dropped frames that was reminiscent of watching a Netflix movie that is still buffering. But these instances quickly resolved and stabilized whenever they did occur and the visual fidelity returned to being quite good.
The other big question for Stadia with the nature of it being a streaming service is latency and delay. And, there is some slight input latency when compared to playing the game on a console or PC. When playing more casual PvE content like patrols or strikes, the slight delay in controller input felt less noticeable but was much more noticeable in the Crucible. The delay is also much more noticeable when using precision weapons like sniper rifles or hand cannons versus burst weapons like auto rifles. The delay felt very comparable to playing Destiny 2 via the PS4's Remote Play feature.
Load times in general, such as loading into the game, into the Tower, and between destinations felt exactly the same as playing Destiny 2 on consoles. Matchmaking into strikes was also comparable in terms of wait times. But the matchmaking times in Crucible are extremely long on Stadia. Matchmaking in multiple playlists regularly took 10 minutes or longer to find a game. That is very likely due to the player population on Stadia, which by its very nature of being a brand new platform, is going to be very low. But it's important to point out as this was probably the worst part of playing Destiny 2 on Stadia, as Stadia is an exclusive player population and there is no crossplay with any other version of the game.
There is definitely room for improvement for Destiny 2 on Stadia, specifically continuing to improve connection quality especially in terms of the sharpness of the resolution, reducing the latency and input delay, as well as increasing player population and faster matchmaking times. But at this point, Destiny 2 on Stadia is a much more stable and pleasant experience than some reports on the internet may lead people to believe (again, every person's experience may vary due to internet connection and proximity to Stadia's data centers). What could also really help Destiny 2 on Stadia is if Bungie does add crossplay in the future.
Playing on console and PC is still way better, but being able to pick up and play Destiny 2 (especially veteran players who can access their characters thanks to Cross Save) via the included Chromecast or from a laptop is a pretty cool feature especially for those who may be traveling or away from their main gaming setup on a regular basis.
Destiny 2 is available now for PC, PS4, Stadia, and Xbox One.