Google Stadia promises to be the true next evolution of gaming. Forget the ongoing battle of the consoles between PS5, Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch – where Google’s going, you don’t need console hardware at all. It’s destination? The cloud.
Stadia streams in high-quality, AAA games over the internet. There’s no download required, no install necessary – just a Chrome browser window (or a Chromecast Ultra with the Stadia gamepad) and stable, above-average broadband connection needed.
While a free tier is expected to launch imminently, for now you’ll have to sign up for a Pro account, which not only unlocks a few free games on a rolling basis, but also 4K streaming.
So what should be your first port of call in this brave new world of game streaming? We pick out the best Google Stadia games, in alphabetical order, below.
The best Google Stadia games
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
A Greek odyssey of epic proportions, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey makes even its lavish earlier historical adventure efforts look miniscule by comparison. Finally fully embracing the RPG mechanics that have sat that the fringes of the series for years now, Odyssey is a grand game, absolutely gigantic in size, with assassination missions to uncover, beautiful landscapes to explore and a surprisingly well imagined cast to interact with. It’s sheer size makes it a great match for Stadia – should you plan on being able to finish it in this lifetime, you’re going to want instant access to it on as many devices as possible, which Stadia offers.
A bombastic shooter, Borderlands 3 is the most colorful game on Stadia, and up there with its most addictive, too. You probably know the score by now – it’s a sci-fi blast-em-up, with a loot-collecting twist, and this third installment really does go out of its way to throw the kitchen sink of ideas out there. Fancy shooting a gun that turns into an explosive brain on metal spider legs when you toss it away? Borderlands 3 is ready to answer that call.
There’s a distinct lack of Diablo-like action-RPGs on Stadia at the moment, but Darksiders Genesis proves a worthy entry into the genre – somewhat surprisingly, in fact. For a series that was born as a God-of-War-meets-Zelda-in-Hell affair, it’s translated incredibly well into a click-and-loot fest, with a greater emphasis on direct action than most Diablo clones offer. It’s not particularly punishing with a bit of latency introduced by streaming either, making it an enjoyable play on Stadia.
In a similar vein to Borderlands, but with more of an MMO-like end-game grind to enjoy, Destiny 2 does a fantastic job of fusing the Halo-style shooting mechanics that developer Bungie is known for with an enigmatic and addictive looter-shooter loop. Get a good team of mates to play this with, and the chunky, hard-hitting gunplay here will have you constantly coming back for more.
Football Manager 2020
Just as addictive as Destiny 2, but far more grounded in our world, comes the eternally moreish Football Manager. It’s never been much to look at (though this year’s soccer management sim has its most detailed match view to date), being essentially a giant gamified spreadsheet. But if you’ve ever fancied being a top manager in charge of the beautiful game, there’s nothing like it. We’d go as far as to say Stadia is actually the BEST way to play Football Manager. It doesn’t require lightning reflexes, so latency isn’t an issue, but it does require an investment in time. Stadia’s servers are able to do the hardcore number crunching the game relies in incredibly quickly, and being able to take one of the most addictive games ever onto whatever computer or phone you have to hand makes that ‘one more game’ loop even more appealing.
The only Google Stadia exclusive on our list. It may not be Resident Evil, but don’t let Gylt’s cutesy art-style fool you – there are scares galore to be had here. Linear and at times predictable if you’re a horror gaming veteran, it does manage to squeeze in some clever puzzles and genuinely breathless stealth sequences. One to play with the lights on.
A musical puzzler with a lot of heart, Kine is a mind-bending brain scratcher. Playing as different musical instruments moving around grid-shaped levels as they attempt to form a band, Kine is quite unlike any other puzzle game you’ll have played. What’s particularly good is the way it’s levels slowly reveal hidden themes through the game – it’s not just a puzzler about the joy of music, but of love and life, too.
In terms of sheer graphical bells and whistles, Metro Exodus is THE Stadia game to play. Of all the Stadia ports we’ve tried so far, it’s clear that its developers have put the most care and attention into Metro Exodus. It’s a real showcase for the potential power of Stadia, with it being the port most closely resembling a real top-end PC experience. The post-apocalyptic survival shooter is eerie at the best of times, but this Stadia version really tries to push the envelope with graphical settings. Locked, by developer’s choice, to 30fps, it’s a more methodical than twitch-focussed shooter, making the inherent latency of a streamed experience more manageable too.
If Metro Exodus is the apocalypse in muted tones, Rage 2 is the ‘Mad Max Fury Road’ reimagining. A barmy open-world shooter that loves to lean in on the excess, it has great gunplay and wild power ups that make the end of the world seem fun, all painted in garish neon hues. Do note however that, being quite a twitchy game, you might find that Stadia’s latency levels will make pinpoint targeting tricky. We’d encourage you to play with the analogue stick sensitivity levels to counteract any perceived delay.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Much like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game to get lost in. It’s vast American wilderness is one of the best-realised in all of gaming, with secrets to uncover, gangs to do battle with and a truly cinematic story wrapping it all together. It’s a mammoth download on consoles and PC, with the PC version being particularly resource hungry to get it running at its best. Like Creed, being able to access it instantly on whatever screen you’re using will make it a far more accessible experience.
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