Stadia streaming comes to iOS, and it seems like the best way to casually experiment with Cyberpunk's sprawl if you have an iPad around (or a TV, laptop or Chromebook).
I haven't played Cyberpunk 2077 on a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X, or a PS4 or Xbox One, or a PC. Instead, I've been playing the game on a couple of iPads (and a TV, and laptops) using Google's streaming game service Stadia. Considering the outcry over dated console graphics and massive glitches and bugs, it feels like I made the right call. A year after Stadia made its debut, I think I've finally found its killer app.
Stadia has just arrived on iOS, making it the latest streaming game service that now works with iPhones and iPads via the browser (there's no official iOS app available yet). I played using Safari, because you can easily add a quick-launch shortcut to your desktop that starts up full-screen like a regular app, no browser borders getting in the way. I paired an Xbox One controller via Bluetooth, stood an iPad Pro up in a Magic Keyboard case, and I was set.
So far, I'm very pleased with my decision. No downloads, no physical console. In a weird way, this is exactly the sort of cyberpunk way of playing games that a cyberpunk game deserves.
The last few months have reminded me of what next-gen consoles and PCs require for game downloads: 50GB and up. Cyberpunk 2077 takes up between 60 and 100GB of space for consoles. I'm already close to maxing storage on an Xbox Series X and PS5 I'm trying out. My home internet is 100MBps. I downloaded a 170GB PC VR game last week, that was enough.
Even with two kids doing remote schooling, Stadia ran fine on my 100Mbps internet. Again, I wouldn't say it was perfect, but it was more than good enough to play and not get annoyed. I don't really expect more out of Cyberpunk 2077 in my life right now: For me, it's a story I want to dip into and follow. I want to engage with it casually. I don't have endless hours to stay glued to one big screen and console all the time.
On a big-screen 12.9-inch iPad Pro, Stadia was fantastic. The game loaded fast and I didn't have to wait hours for it to install. The game looked good enough to me, although it's possible you'd be disappointed if you were a PC gamer. Everything was plenty playable, and I took in the storyline and was able to play along with an Xbox controller paired.
It feels like the same experience as on a PC, Mac or a TV, except for the screen size limitations. It worked well on an iPad Air, too. Due to Cyberpunk 2077's pretty in-depth layout of small text and weird icons, 10 inches is about as small as I want to get. (Phones are out of the question for me, but Stadia works for Android phones and iPhones, too.)
I had moments where the streaming slowed down a bit, or controller syncing got a bit weird. Mostly, it was totally fine.
Read more: GameSpot's Cyberpunk 2077 review
Of course, the moment I finished writing this, I wasn't able to load Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia. One afternoon, the game just got stuck on the title screen. I gave up and walked away and spent time with my kids instead. Wireless connections and streaming are an everyday puzzle in my Isolation House. (It's working fine, now.)
It's relaxing to drag Cyberpunk 2077 around to wherever I might be, and play there. You can do that with a gaming laptop, or you could locally stream from an Xbox Series X or PC. It's a lot easier on something like Stadia, though.
It often feels like streaming game services are striving for what streaming TV services do. I can do my binging of Netflix shows wherever, and know everything will pick up when I get to whatever device I have with me. Same thing with Stadia. Maybe it's being trapped at home for a year, knowing that my devices are scattered around, and I move from room to room, but Stadia seems to be a better fit for me now than it was a year ago. I don't love it for smaller games (just play it natively on the device it was designed for) or twitch-action games (where those occasional glitches have a much bigger impact on your enjoyment). But for a sprawling, story-based game like Cyberpunk 2077, it's great.
A year into Google's launch of Stadia, there are now several streaming competitors: Xbox cloud gaming via Xbox Game Pass, Nvidia GeForce Now and Amazon Luna. Stadia has a subscription option with a few included games, but most games have to be bought at full price. Stadia never appealed to me much a year ago, and Cyberpunk 2077, for all its crossovers with cyberpunk literature and films I've loved, isn't really my favorite game, either. But I don't feel any need to download a huge Cyberpunk game anywhere else in my life. I much prefer that Google host that stuff somewhere else and just let me stream it.