Xbox Cloud Gaming: Technology between perfect and unplayable

Xbox Cloud Gaming: Technology between perfect and unplayable

Xbox Cloud Gaming

Xbox Cloud Gaming has been available here in Germany for a few days, i.e. Microsoft's answer to Google Stadia and Amazon Luna, where your games are streamed from the network.

Hardcore gamers like to turn up on the subject Nose, but we took a look at Microsoft's technology anyway and are giving an update on what Xbox has in the cloud and for whom it is a great function.

Since streaming is a fluid one If the picture arrives, we recommend our video test. There we show all the graphic characteristics of our test games in detail.

Table of Contents

1 What is Xbox Cloud Gaming? 2 How can I play? 3 Our technical check 3.1 Red Dead Redemption 2 3.2 Forza Horizon 4 3.3 Halo 2 Remastered 3.4 Ori and the Will of the Wisps 3.5 Xbox Cloud Gaming on the smartphone 4 What is left of Xbox Cloud Gaming Recommended editorial content Here you can find external content from [PLATFORM]. To protect your personal data, external integrations are only displayed if you confirm this by clicking on "Load all external content": Load all external content I consent to external content being displayed to me. This means that personal data is transmitted to third-party platforms. Read more about our privacy policy . External content More on this in our data protection declaration.

What is Xbox Cloud Gaming?

When streaming, the game is charged in the cloud. Only the picture comes to your home. Source: Google In our inventory we take a look at the open beta of Xbox Cloud Gaming on PC and smartphone. We check the game library, the control options, the prices and of course the technical side. But first we would like to clarify the basics. The Xbox Cloud Gaming is the counterpart to Google Stadia, Amazon Luna or Geforce Now and is a streaming service for games. This means that you theoretically save expensive hardware and even play big triple A games on old PCs or on your tablets and cell phones.

The calculations are made by the server and you only get the picture your device and in turn sends the key commands from the controller back to the server. Rumor has it that Microsoft wants to roll out the topic very big and is already working on streaming sticks for your TV, as well as a pure app for smart TVs. So all you need is a controller with Bluetooth functionality.

How can I play?

In contrast to Google Stadia, for example, you don't have to buy your games separately. A big advantage is that Microsoft embeds its game streaming in the Xbox Game Pass and does not charge any additional costs. At least if you turn a blind eye, because there is a stumbling block. You need the most expensive model, the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Streaming is not possible with the standard version. The whole thing is available on Android, but now also on your PC and IOS device. One or the other has surely noticed that Apple has blocked itself from taking the app into the store. Microsoft is therefore solving the problem with a version that works purely via the browser. Streaming will also be integrated on the Xbox. This is especially interesting for Xbox One owners. They can also play next-gen games without buying new hardware.

Regardless of whether it is a tablet, smartphone or PC. Xbox Cloud Gaming will also be rolled out to even more devices in the future. Source: Microsoft

That brings us then to the games! On this front, Microsoft has a big advantage because they use Xbox technology in the server farms. This means that if a game was developed for the Xbox, the chances are very high that it will also be streaming. Google Stadia as an example is considered a separate platform and games have to be specially programmed for it. This often discourages developers from offering their game for the platform.

Nevertheless, by far not all games are included in the streaming that are in the Xbox Game Pass. Pure PC games such as Age of Empires or Crusader Kings are not offered, but the titles from the EA Play subscription are also missing. Here, however, Microsoft continues to expand and expand its catalog. The streaming library currently has an impressive 265 games.

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Our technology check

We would like to emphasize in advance: This should only be a small insight, therefore we do not measure the lag or the loading times to the second. Our test took place in the home office on the PC. This is connected to the Internet via a LAN cable. The connection is cable internet, as is often the case in cities. With 200 M / Bit in the download this has a good data throughput, but the ping in the cable network is often higher than with DSL. This reaction time in particular is important in cloud gaming.

Nevertheless, the conditions with which we look at Xbox cloud gaming are almost optimal. Microsoft itself recommends a minimum of 10 M / bit in the download. On the server side, you can't really be sure what you're getting at the moment. Microsoft is upgrading from Xbox One to Series X technology. This means that some games are currently running on the new hardware and some are not. This can be seen in the significantly poorer performance. We selected four different games for our test: Red Dead Redemption 2, Forza Horizon 4, Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Halo 2 Remastered. All games reflect different types of game. While Red Dead is quite sluggish, Ori, for example, depends very much on accuracy.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Due to its sluggishness, the minimal lag in Red Dead Redemption 2 is not noticed at all. Source: pcgames Our first candidate was then Red Dead Redemption 2. After a loading time of a few seconds, the stream was ready, which suggests that Red Dead is already running with Series X hardware. Here we were able to directly read out an absolute advantage of Xbox Cloud Gaming: the synchronization of the saved games. Your saved statuses are stored in the cloud and can be accessed from there anywhere. You can start playing on your Xbox at home and then use cloud gaming to continue playing exactly where you saved it. We find that as comfortable as possible and is definitely a plus.

The stream itself runs in Full HD resolution with 60FPS. A 4K version does not yet exist on Xbox, but it should be possible in the future. The resolution is variable and is dynamically reduced if the Internet connection does not want to. We rarely noticed this, especially with Red Dead. The game looked consistently good, even in challenging situations like Valentine or Saint Denis.

Only occasionally did minor stutterers occur in the frame rate, but that was bearable. The situation is similar with input lag. Since Red Dead Redemption 2 is a very sluggish game, the minimal delay is almost unnoticeable. For such a demanding game that is quite impressive and you can definitely say: Red Dead 2 is very playable in streaming.

The stream runs in 1080p and 60FPS. Arthur Morgan stays cool even in demanding situations. Source: pcgames

Forza Horizon 4

Unfortunately this cannot be said about our next test game. Forza Horizon 4 already shows strong artifacts in the main menu. The game even looks crisp and sharp in the still image. But when do you just stand around stupid in a racing game? Source: pcgames quality fluctuates between okay and ugly like the night. Unfortunately, that gets worse in the game. The stream gets stuck, especially when driving fast, and even the sound keeps dropping out. In addition, the textures are muddy, in some places even objects pop ugly. All in all, that's graphically under all pig. Calculated directly on the Xbox, there are worlds in between, because Forza is actually a flagship title of the Xbox.

As expected, the input lag is also much more noticeable here than in Red Dead. Precision is particularly important in a fast racing game, and it was clear here how late the car only reacts after our input. At 250 km / h, that makes the difference between the street and the wall of a house.

We suspect the hardware behind these problems, which obviously still relies on Xbox One technology. Nevertheless, Forza Horizon 4 is currently not really playable in streaming. We tested it several times, but the result was always disappointing.

Forza Horizon 4 already disappoints in the main menu with top-class picture slush Source: pcgames

Halo 2 Remastered

Halo 2 is also not great, but not nearly as bad. The frame rate remains stable, but the graphic quality is changeable. The picture tends to get muddy, especially when moving fast. If you want to aim precisely, you have to get used to it, otherwise you will oversteer quickly. This is noticeable in the feel of the game as spongy. This is particularly noticeable with Halo, the flagship title for precise control on the console.

Halo 2 was a rather mixed experience. The stream quality fluctuated again and again. Source: pcgames

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

With 2D platformers, maximum precision is also important. If you can't time the jumps well due to stupid input lag, you quickly get frustrated. So we had concerns in advance, but they were quickly blown away. When it comes to Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the Xbox can also surprise us when it comes to "input delay". The game controls in the streaming handy and well. Source: pcgames cloud gaming flex its muscles.

The game looks very good in the stream and even small details are displayed well. We did not notice artifacts as disturbing. Every now and then the frame rate stuttered, but that was bearable. As for the controls, we were also pleasantly surprised because they were precise and easy to grip. Of course, you also have the feeling that the console is a little more direct, but this difference is minimal. Jumps were timed well and the times we bit the grass it was our own stupidity. This shows how good streaming can be if all parameters are right.

Ori is convincing all along the line in Xbox cloud gaming. Even the smallest details, such as the glowing traces when jumping, are easy to see Source: pcgames

Xbox Cloud Gaming on the smartphone

A little detour to the mobile phone! Touch controls are available on the smartphone for a handful of titles. So you don't even need a controller. The controls are specially adapted to the title you want to play. We tried that and unfortunately it is exactly how you imagine a touch control. Imprecise, no feedback and you are constantly making wrong entries. Dirt 5 was therefore unplayable. A bridge constructor was perfectly feasible. However, we always recommend the controller.

Also watch out for mobile data. After 10 minutes of gaming on the mobile phone network, about 300-400 Mbytes of data were gone.

What is left of Xbox Cloud Gaming

For some games there is an adapted touch control. But most of the time it plays moderately. Source: Microsoft First, we actually need to issue a warning. Just because of the cloud gaming you should definitely not get an Xbox Game Pass. The fluctuations in quality are currently far too great for that. Of four titles tested, two were good to very good, but two were also moderate to unplayable. That will certainly change in the future, but these differences in quality are currently still very noticeable. Fortunately, the future, in which Microsoft imagines that everyone will only play with the Xbox app on the Smart TV, is still a long way off.

In combination, however, things look different! Anyone who already uses the Game Pass on PC or Xbox will get a great addition to the Cloud Gaming for a small fee on top of that. Streaming is ideal for those who are out and about on the obligatory family visit or in the hotel on vacation, although they actually want to play a new game. Thanks to the ingenious storage system, you can always pick up exactly where you left off at home and everything is always synchronized. You have your game library with you on demand. The prerequisite for this is, of course, a good and stable internet connection, as well as Microsoft's game subscription.

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