With the snap of a finger, Cyberpunk 2077 has just become one of the biggest hits of the year. With over 8 million pre-orders it’s headed straight into the game sales stratosphere, dominating Steam’s concurrent player counts, Twitch streaming and a large chunk of the games industry discourse. Some questionable marketing decisions and health and safety slip ups have done nothing to have diminished the game’s initial popularity, but people tuning in for the first time are discovering that the base PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game are struggling to run the game in anything like a consistent manner.
The base console experience runs at somewhere between 720p and 900p, while the frame rate takes a consistent pummelling well below the targeted 30fps. It feels like this could be our first true taste of what a cross-generational, ‘leave no-one behind’ ethos will mean for the ageing consoles, and while first party developers are almost always able to extract the best from the hardware, it does leave question marks over if Microsoft’s spoken policy can really hold up for third party games as well. Yes, the game boots and runs, but is this a true reflection of the developer’s vision? You just need to look at the PC version of the game to see that it’s not.
Google Stadia meanwhile is sitting pretty. Not only was it the simplest platform you could dive into Cyberpunk 2077 with thanks to its total lack of downloads – no 60GB day one patches here – but the performance is perfectly solid and far more in keeping with the game running on a mid-range PC.
Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia also gives you the option of two different visual settings, letting you pick between a 60fps-targeting Performance mode at 1080p and a 30fps resolution-hunting Quality mode that chases 2160p. Either one of them sees Stadia putting out an attractive image that really helps to draw you into the world CD Projekt Red have created, and other than an occasional spot of rag-doll dead body weirdness, it holds together very well too.
In essence, it’s an experience that will be comparable to the one you find on the new generation of consoles as they boost the game up to 60fps – the Xbox Series X also has performance and quality options, while PS5 simply targets 60fps at a lower resolution. All that without having to plonk down £450.
And again, there’s the ease with which can play Stadia across an array of PC, Mac and Chromebook platforms as well as Android tablets and phones, simply using any standard controller that you can hook up to them. Hell, you can even play it with touchscreen controls if you really want to (I wouldn’t recommend that last one). The point is, there’s every chance you can play it on something you already own.
Obviously keen to induct more people into their streaming platform, Google are currently bundling in a free Premium pack which gives you a Stadia controller and a Chromecast Ultra when you buy the game.
Perhaps the strangest thing about the game’s struggle on last-gen consoles is that Cyberpunk 2077 has been in development in some capacity since all the way back in 2012. That’s before the PS4 and Xbox One even released, at a time when the Xbox 360 and PS3 still ruled the roost. CDPR have crafted a hugely detailed and technically challenging world, but having spent the first half of the generation developing and then optimising The Witcher 3 for the base consoles, it’s a major failing that you have to have at least a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X to get relatively consistent results from Cyberpunk.
In terms of allowing you to play the biggest brand-new game of the moment, within seconds of purchasing it, Google Stadia is currently the clear winner here. There’s no sign of the asset streaming bugs and woeful performance that seem to be causing problems for Cyberpunk owners with base PS4s and Xbox Ones. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have a PS5, Xbox Series X or a high-end PC you’ll have a good time there too, but the Stadia option is a lot cheaper – and currently quite a lot easier – to get hold of.
Due to late release of review code for consoles, our full Cyberpunk 2077 review coverage will be published in the near future. Make sure to stay tuned!