Digital Foundry have been poking around another game running on Google Stadia and have found that once again it is not as good as a version running on a console. This is very surprising when Stadia has a lot more power than the current most powerful console, the Xbox One X.
Starting with the positives the game does run in 4K, and that’s actual 4K not upscaled from 1080p, “From the pulse of specular highlights in its damp metro tunnels to the crisp snowy overground, everything pops that much more,” they state. However, Google’s video encoding seems to be a problem as the game is rather dark.
One factor that holds Stadia back from matching Xbox One X quality is video encoding quality. Generally speaking, the streaming is top notch in most games – when it works – but Metro Exodus is unique by design. It takes on a much darker colour palette than most titles, with lots of trawling through dark spaces. And the blunt truth is that, as a result, the darker points of the image show more compression artefacts. Google’s encoder works to minimise the size of each frame by pruning back quality on low contrast areas – which makes sense. But detail in dark areas is an issue with any bandwidth-constrained video encoder, creating obvious bands between points of shade. And therefore, in comparison with Xbox One X’s uncompressed video output, it does start to undo the positives of rendering at 4K.
It is also reported that game retains the horrendously long load times found on consoles and has frame rate issues. The game runs at 30fps but “shoot-outs situated in areas lavish in lighting and fog effects run worse on Stadia,” with the frame rate dropping to down to the 20fps region. “It’s also worth noting that input lag in Metro Exodus is noticeably on the high side,” add Digital Foundry.
Why Stadia, which runs on a beast of a machine, has these issues in unclear, “Sub-30fps readings from a 10.7TF GPU are puzzling to say the least.”