Microsoft showed off Project xCloud at E3 this year. The xCloud demo was on a Samsung Galaxy (variously 8 or S10+, it seems) with a mounted Xbox One Controller. The Internet connection was primarily over Wi-Fi. The xCloud server was located somewhere in San Francisco (specifically 381 miles away, according to PC Magazine). Six games were on demo.
Ars Technica played Halo 5 and ran a basic visual test with an external camera. Their results showed a response time of 67 milliseconds of input latency. According to Digital Foundry, via Ars Technica, that’s an imperceptible 4 milliseconds slower than Halo 5 running on an Xbox One.
PC Magazine was disappointed with the performance of the xCloud demo. “. . . moving the stick on the controller and watching the action play out onscreen were two very detached experiences,” they wrote. They elaborated that “the time it took for my controller to tell the game what I wanted to do was sluggish…super-sluggish. I might as well have been yelling the direction I wanted to go to someone else playing the game in another room. “
Metro wrote highly of xCloud, saying “Games such as Forza Horizon 4 and Halo 5 seemed to work flawlessly, with no visible difference to playing on a console in terms of resolution, latency, or graphical quality.”
Gizmodo initially tried the demo over wi-fi, but the connection was completely unstable. After enough failures, Microsoft connected their demo to ethernet, and Gizmodo wrote positively of this experience: “Things were smooth then. Snappy gameplay. No missed shots. No ugly artifacts. Just smooth rounds of Xbox One-quality Halo on a phone. “
Engadget also enjoyed their time with xCloud. “While resolution here didn’t hit full HD (let alone 4K),” they wrote” there were hardly any artifacts and graphical glitches from the game stream. Characters and textures looked crisp on the mobile screen, and everything ran fluidly. It was like playing an Xbox title on a smaller screen, unadulterated.”
Tom’s Guide primarily found the demo problematic, writing “. . . I felt some fairly significant lag as I moved my camera around in [Hellblade and Gears 4]. This was especially frustrating in Gears, a heavy third-person shooter that demands precise aim and smooth movement.”
Tech Radar walked away from their demo impressed. Playing both Resident Evil 7 and Forza 4, they wrote, “We experienced no latency issues or delays with controller input, the image was crisp and essentially the same as on any console.”
Wired had a smooth experience, writing of their experience with Halo 5, “. . . the controls were as responsive as I expected, characters moved with the speed and fluidity I was used to, and the game looked as sharp as ever – just much smaller. ” They did, however, notice some “minor artefacting” at one point in Gears 4.
Windows Central was impressed, despite an imperfect demo experience. “The lag was noticeable, but totally and completely playable, and more than adequate for an offline shooter,” they wrote, then continued “There were occasional instances of artifacting here and there, and you probably won’t want to get competitive on it, but the audio delivery, the responsiveness of the controls, and the visuals were all incredibly impressive, vastly exceeding what I would ever have expected.”
It is real. It is insane. If Microsoft nails it, it could be huge.Jez Corden, Windows Central
Kotaku was not surprised by the performance of the demo. They wrote, “I’d had the experience I had expected from the get-go. It ran well enough that the tech seems viable to me as a way to check in on a game when I’m not near my console. It didn’t run so well that I’m ready to throw my console out and just play games this way.”
Digital Trends had a mixed time with the demo. Concerning their experience with Hellblade, the demo was “bad,” the reporter writes. “Lag was evident from the moment I touched the controller,” he elaborates, “The problem was not a stutter or hitch, but instead an ever-present lack of responsiveness.” His experience with Halo 5, however, was “much better,” writing, “I had no problem fighting my way through the hallway of a spaceship and deploying all the usual tactics a veteran Halo fan knows.”
IGN had their expectations met, writing “Gameplay was smooth, graphics looked pretty darn great, and it was exactly what you would expect to see if you tried streaming Halo from your Xbox to your Android phone.”
It pretty much works as advertised.Josh Norem, IGN