I’ve been a part of Xbox xCloud since it started, and I have been impressed by the service so far. Access is rolled into a Gamepass subscription and started by letting you play a growing number of games on your Android device.
The chat coming from Microsoft is that they would like to have the xCloud service available on several platforms, and even a TV streaming stick has even been mentioned online. I’ve used the service on both my phone and tablet and as long as you have a stable and strong internet speed, it is quite impressive.
Just last week I received a golden ticket to the invite-only Beta of Xbox xCloud to be able to try out the new version which, should, in theory, run on any device with support for Edge, Google Chrome, and Apple’s Safari browser.
This is important as it will finally bring xCloud to IOS devices (even though Apple tried to stop it…that’s another article though) and in practice, any device that has browser support. As I was so lucky, I’ve spent the last week trying this out to give you a report on what I think so far.
To get it working you will need a supported device, one of the browsers listed above or an Android device running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later and Bluetooth 4.0. You will also need a supported controller, you can find a full list on the Xbox website, which includes the PS4 DualShock.
I’ve used the service quite a bit since it was first introduced on my Android phone with an Xbox one controller. I got a couple of cheap phone controller mounts online and that was me set up. If you are planning on using the service, I can’t recommend a mount or clip-on controller enough.
There are also around 50 games that now support on-screen controls, this isn’t going to be something you want to use for anything other than a quick taster of a game but it’s worth a try if you’re in a pinch. The Telltale games work well with this method.
The Android app has been good, but the internet signal has been an issue with a lot of dropouts depending on where I play. The service only properly works with a solid 5ghz signal. If you are running 2.5ghz you will suffer from extreme lag and slow down and pixelated pictures. Currently, the service appears to be running at around 720p resolution, however recently support for up to 1080p was leaked that was in testing.
This was why I was interested in trying out the browser-based solution, to see if it offered any improvement. I can say it does, but again it has its limitations. I’ve tried this out across three different devices, my home PC, my Android phone and also an Ipad Air2 (I think that’s the model….I don’t really do Apple).
My first xCloud experience on the PC wasn’t great. The resolution was too low on a 1440p 27-inch screen, compared to native games the FPS seemed extremely low. This isn’t an internet issue as my IPS provides 150 to 200MPS speeds. I tried MLB the show and found it hard to time swinging when the ball was pitched.
Overall, the experience was far off what I got when trying this on my Xbox one to compare.
Because of this, I headed off to try some other games. There are 249 games currently listed on the Beta, and I have barely been able to scratch the surface on these. However of the nine or 10 games I did try, my experience was similar.
Because of the issues, I lowered my ambitions. Loading up Perfect Dark which is still a classic game, I started to see where the Beta could work. The resolution wasn’t as much of an issue as it ran lower originally, and although there was still some lag the overall experience was a lot better. Playable, yes…..a go-to experience…not yet.
However, I can see where this would be of use. We are currently still experiencing massive supply issues with both consoles and graphics cards, news online says this could last anywhere from the next few months to the end of 2022. The fact that you could build a PC for very little and use this to game on really warms my heart. That work from home PC you have might finally have good use.