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It's no wonder that Doom Eternal won't run at "true 4K" on Google Stadia any more

When Google Stadia was first announced at GDC last year, id boss Marty Stratton promised that Doom Eternal would run at “true 4K” when it launched on the search giant’s cloud streaming service. However, according to id’s updated specs for the game, this is no longer going to be the case. Instead, the Stadia version of Doom Eternal will now run at 1800p when played on a 4K display (that’s 3200×1800), with some sneaky up-sampling pushing it the rest of the way to proper 4K (3840×2160). The news will no doubt come as a blow for die-hard Stadia fans, but when you take a closer look at id’s official 4K PC requirements for Doom Eternal, it’s actually not entirely surprising.

The good news is that Doom Eternal will still run at a full 60fps when played on a 4K display, and it still supports HDR, too. In fact, the Stadia experience of the game should be more or less identical to what you’ll get playing on an Xbox One X, which is also set to upscale to 4K from a resolution of 1800p. Those playing on a PS4 Pro, meanwhile, will have to make do with up-sampling from 1440p.

Of course, none of this really matters if you’re using Stadia on PC, as the PC version of Google Stadia accessible through your Chrome browser is still limited to playing games at 1920×1080. Instead, the only way to stream Stadia games in 4K at the moment is via a Chromecast Ultra.

Sure, going back on that initial promise isn’t exactly a great look for id, especially when they came out swinging with statements like, “If you’re gonna prove to the world that you can stream games from the cloud, what better proof than Doom?” and, “[We’re] thrilled to announce that the game will be capable of running at true 4K resolution, with HDR colour at an unrelenting 60 frames per second.”

However, when you take a closer look at their new “Ultra-Nightmare” PC requirements for Doom Eternal, which id say will run the game at 4K at 60fps (or 120fps at 1440p), the move is perhaps a little more understandable. Indeed, to run the game at that kind of performance level, id say your PC will need the following:

Doom Eternal Ultra-Nightmare PC requirements:
CPU: Intel Core i9-9900K / AMD Ryzen 7 3700X or better
RAM: 16GB
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti / AMD Radeon 7
Storage: 50GB
OS: Windows 10 64-bit

That’s a heck of a powerful spec to get the game running at that resolution, and may go some way towards explaining why Stadia will no longer be able to manage “true 4K” like id initially planned.

It doesn’t go all the way, though. Admittedly, it’s not entirely clear exactly what kind of hardware Google is using to power Stadia. All they’ve revealed so far is that each Stadia instance has some kind of custom AMD GPU with 56 compute units attached to it, as well as a custom 2.7GHz processor and 16GB of RAM. However, they also said during their initial tech reveal that their special AMD GPU would be able to deliver 10.7 teraflops of power, which is a lot more than the Xbox One X’s current 6.0 teraflops. They also spoke about how some games would eventually be able to make use of multiple Stadia instances to really turn on the fireworks, too.

Why, then, is the Stadia version of Doom Eternal only offering the same technical experience as Xbox One X? Perhaps that AMD GPU isn’t quite as robust as Google once claimed – despite having 56 compute units to its name, for example, the recommended Radeon 7 actually comes with 60 of them. Or maybe the fault lies with Stadia’s CPU capabilities. After all, Intel’s Core i9-9900K and AMD’s Ryzen 7 3700X both have base clock speeds of 3.6GHz (and can boost even higher than that under the right conditions), which is quite a bit faster than Stadia’s mystery 2.7GHz CPU.

Or maybe Google’s promised pooling of multiple Stadia instances only works when there’s a single person logged on to the entire cloud network. We’ll probably never know.

Either way, it’s really not the end of the world in the grand scheme of things, and it just goes to show that cloud gaming isn’t going to replace playing on a proper PC anytime soon. I, for one, am still deeply excited about Super Shotgun-ing my way round a fresh, demon-packed hellscape, and I’ll be doing a proper hardware test on the game to see who it runs on PC closer to launch on March 20th. Yes, it’s a bit of bad luck for would-be Stadia players, but come on, are you really going to notice the difference between 1800p and 2160p when you’re popping out Cacodemon sockets and microwaving Pain Elementals at 60fps? Probably not. Instead, let’s savour some of RPS vid bud Matthew’s Doom Eternal impressions from his various preview sessions earlier in the year and dream of all those tasty plasma pops we’ll be doling out in just a couple of weeks time.

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Who am I?

Katharine Castle

Hardware Editor

Katharine writes about all the bits that go inside your PC so you can carry on playing all those lovely games we like talking about so much. Very partial to JRPGs and the fetching of quests. She's also RPS' resident deals herald.

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