Hands-on with Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming service

Microsoft has begun public testing of the new Project xCloud game streaming service, allowing Xbox Players to preview Microsoft's vision for the future of games in the United States, United Kingdom, and Korea. In the past few hours, I have tried xCloud on London's home Wi-Fi network over a 1Gbps connection with an average latency of about 10ms on a Microsoft Wi-Fi network in London. I was impressed with the initial results, but to really test the limits of xCloud and see what's actually possible requires a much larger game selection.

Microsoft initially limited its xCloud preview to 4 games. Those are all Microsoft Studios titles. Gears 5 Halo 5: Guardians Killer Instinct, and Sea of ​​Thieves were all available and spent the most time. Sea of ​​Thieves . Preview requires an Android phone or tablet, a Bluetooth Xbox One controller, and a new game streaming app from Microsoft. This particular application is used for xCloud streaming on Microsoft servers and for streaming your content and games from anywhere on your Xbox One console.


Default xCloud Home Screen

The xCloud interface is now very basic. You can use the tiles to start the game. It takes about 1 minute to fully load each game. That means it takes a long time on phones that are used to loading apps instantly. Once the game loads, you can go to another app and quickly resume. There is an option to exit the game, but it keeps running instances on Microsoft servers for a few minutes in case you want to move back when you exit the game.

When playing games on a Microsoft cloud server, it's basically the same as using a remote Xbox One console. Microsoft has removed a version of the Xbox One Dashboard that runs on these xCloud servers, which you can use to access your friends list, join Xbox Live party chat, or view achievements for your current game. You can't jump into other apps or play with the settings here. It's actually basic and locked.

I tested Xbox Live Party Chat and it worked fine even if the microphone was muted by default, but if you want to use the microphone in a game like Sea of ​​Thieves or Party Chat, switch that setting. But it's rarely a problem with respect to customization possibilities or settings.

Game streaming via xCloud had experience. [1959005] I loaded the Sea of ​​Thieves and the intro video was broken and broken and the audio came in and out. xCloud does not seem to be working properly on a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network, and routers automatically handle 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz connections with the same SSID. It has been greatly improved by forcing the 5GHz option with a separate SSID, but I have never had a similar problem streaming content from Netflix via 4K or other services.

Sea of ​​Thieves After initial connection problems. Just like on a regular Xbox One console, I was able to complete missions, voice chat with fellow players and roam freely. Sea of ​​Thieves is not a tricky action game that requires a lot of movement and control. For experimenting with multiplayer games, we decided to use player-to-player (PvP) mode of Halo 5 . It's not as fast as games like Overwatch or Fortnite, but it's a chance to test first-person shooters.

I had a few quick plays and I clearly saw that there was an input delay sometimes. It's not extreme, but you can be sure that your movement speed or response is slightly delayed. I want to test xCloud in the same way as Overwatch, but testing is limited now.


Restrict Xbox One Dashboard inside xCloud

The biggest drawback of the current xCloud experience is simple. Game loading time. Because Microsoft is using Xbox One S hardware on the server, it's as fast as Xbox One loading games through a regular hard drive. This is good for game compatibility, but expects Microsoft to upgrade its xCloud server to the new Xbox Project Scarlett spec when the console is released next year. Scarlett will significantly improve load speed thanks to SSD storage and better CPUs.

Another drawback is that you are limited to Android during this initial preview period. Despite Apple's recent support for PS4 and Xbox One controllers in iOS 13, Microsoft hasn't mentioned or proven iOS compatibility yet. This support has already replaced iPad with a handheld game console titled Fortnite and adding xCloud allows you to actually open the amount of games you can play on the go.

You can't use xCloud when you're signed in to your Xbox One console. So if your family is watching Netflix using your Microsoft account on a real console, xCloud requires you to log out of the console or turn off the console so you can stream games from the Microsoft cloud. It's a bizarre requirement and just a limitation of the initial preview.

If you want to try xCloud yourself, we highly recommend the mount type for phone and Xbox One controller combo. It's not ideal to put up a slippery phone, and the clip or mount system eliminates headaches. Since Microsoft has not yet implemented touch control for the game, we also need an Xbox One controller.

Project xCloud invitations are going fast and you can sign up here to test Microsoft's cloud gaming service.

Read More Here: https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/15/20915220/microsoft-xcloud-game-streaming-preview-hands-on

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Updated: October 15, 2019 — 12:39 pm