Amazon Luna Review – IGN

When Amazon’s digital store was launched in 1994, it found itself at the forefront of digital commerce. There were very few competitors in the space and Amazon was able to carve out a niche as the leading online bookstore. Fast forward several decades and the same company is offering game streaming with Amazon Luna. But unlike in 1994, Amazon now finds itself among a sea of ​​competitors like Google, Microsoft and Nvidia.

Does Amazon Luna have what it takes for the next great digital disruption?

Amazon Luna – Controller and Interface

Amazon Luna – Catalog and Interface

The Luna storefront has a stripped-down interface that’s mostly navigated by scrolling through row after row. On the left is a toolbar, which includes a list of showcased games, a library, games in your playlist, a search function, a “Couch” button (more on that later), a broadcast button for quickly pausing Twitch sessions, and settings. There are buttons for ,

However, on the browser, the interface is a bit messy. From top to bottom, you’ll see two unrelated-to-Luna toolbars, Then Beneath it all, you’ll finally arrive at Luna’s curated content. Luna’s mobile app (or browser-based app in the case of iOS) is pretty neat. While the games are still packed in carousels and rows, each has large, colorful cover art.

Tapping into a game lets you quickly start playing, add to playlists (which act as a collection of your favorites), or view trailers, screenshots, or even streamers currently playing the game. Provides viewing option. You can also read a quick Metacritic breakdown and see more Luna games by the publisher. This one game page is about as good as they come – it’s robust and useful and I really enjoyed clicking around, checking out the streamers playing each game, and watching some of the trailers.

All Amazon Prime members can access a handful of games for free. This is a relatively small group, although they do move around from time to time. The previous group offered Overcooked 2, Mega Man 11, Castlevania Anniversary Collection and Skatebird. At the time of publication, the group was Steel Assault, Mist, Control and Garfield Kart. Amazon is clearly thinking of it as a cherry-on-top of Amazon Prime, rather than the kind of killer feature that users will have to pay $14.99 per month to start subscribing.

Amazon also wants users to buy into the a la carte “channel” that hosts thematic collections of games. The main channel is Luna+. It costs $9.99 per month and has a catalog of 120+ games, including standouts like Ghostrunner: Complete Edition, Abzu, Control Ultimate Edition, Enter the Gunzen, and Super Mega Baseball 3.

Curiously, Amazon Studios’ own games don’t make the cut. Games like Lost Ark and New World from Luna are completely absent. This seems particularly disadvantageous compared to Xbox Cloud Gaming, which is included with the Game Pass Ultimate subscription. And Featuring all of Microsoft’s huge first-party game line-up on release day.

The second big channel is reserved for Ubisoft+, which features big-name games from the studio, including Riders Republic, Far Cry 6: Ultimate Edition, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Complete Edition, and more. This channel costs $17.99 per month but is not owned by Luna. Your $17.99 subscription allows you to play locally on PC or stream on Stadia. (Ubisoft+’s PC-only plan costs a little less than $14.99.)

There are a few other channels, including the Family Channel for $5.99 per month, the Retro Channel for $4.99 per month, and the Jackbox Games Channel for $4.99 per month. Most of these games are exclusive to their respective channels, which means that to access Luna’s full list of games, you’ll need to pay $41/month on top of your Amazon Prime subscription.

But is this a slightly backward way of thinking about it. In fact, many users just want jackbox games – or want to play games with the family. And while the focus of this review isn’t on the collective quality of those individual channels, it’s not hard to imagine someone subscribing to the Jackbox channel for an evening game night, or a family who just wants to play Overcooked. . For those use cases, Amazon Luna’s ~$5 monthly prices are an downright steal.

As long as you eventually remember to cancel.

Amazon Luna – Controller

Amazon also sells a dedicated Luna controller. It works with Luna, but also with PCs and many other platforms via Bluetooth. While it retails for $69.99, it is on sale frequently (it’s currently on sale for $29.99).

I’ve tested *lot* of controllers, and the Luna is pretty decent. It’s 235.5g without the battery or 281.5g with its two AA’s. It feels rightfully heavy and is very close to the weight of an Xbox Series X controller. It has a USB-C port for charging and wired gameplay.

It looks and feels like a mix between a Switch Pro and an Xbox controller. It’s subtly branded with the small gloss logo and purple sticks under the thumbpad.

The triggers have an aggressive swoop that makes them easy to compress and the buttons are decidedly “clickable,” though they’re on the convex side for my liking. The D-pad sounds a bit amateurish, but my main beef is with the thumbpad, which has a deep cup with aggressive knobs. They’re not completely comfortable, as they’re too small and too deep for the pads of my thumbs unless I’m playing with the tops of my fingers.

But I still like the controller, and that’s mostly because of its intelligent Wi-Fi connection, which uses a service called Cloud Direct. After setting up the controller with a different app, your controller can stay connected to your Wi-Fi of choice, which makes switching between devices a complete cakewalk. The Luna controller still lets you use Bluetooth connections to other compatible devices, but once you start playing on Fire TV devices, it automatically switches to Cloud Direct.

Finally, you can use your phone as a controller when you’re really in a pinch. It’s not a better way to play the game, but Amazon did a decent job packing features and settings into this mode, including configurable haptic feedback, swipeable buttons, and the ability to choose between primary, arcade, and driving layouts. is included. Unfortunately, you can’t drag and drop the buttons exactly where you want them, but it’s still a nice feature to have if you’re in a pinch.

Amazon Luna – Bandwidth

Like all streaming services, Amazon Luna burns through a good chunk of data. There are only two video resolutions to choose from: 1080p and 720p. 1080p will use an estimated 10GB of data an hour, while 720p will use only half of the 5GB of data per hour.

This setting is configured on a device-by-device basis, and whether you’re playing on a PC, Fire Stick or phone, the data estimates are the same.

Amazon Luna – Performance & Gaming

Before getting into the specifics of streaming performance, it’s time to highlight one of Amazon Luna’s best features: the Luna Couch. With Luna Couch you can play many cooperative games with friends, even if they don’t have a Luna subscription. You start a game, click Luna Couch from the sidebar, and a one-time code is issued. Then, you can text your friends with the code and they can hop.

It’s a stellar feature and there are currently 88 games that support it, including Lost Judgment, Killer Queen Black, Jacob’s Zero, and Jackbox 1 to 8. If Luna has one killer feature, this might be it. That is, provided all your friends have good internet connections. In practice, gathering a group of friends that all have an internet connection capable of streaming games is a very lengthy task.

As with all streaming services, your experience is almost entirely based on the strength and speed of your Internet connection. Amazon Luna requires at least 10 Mbps to function, but in practice, you’ll want very high speeds and a stable connection. My primary test was on a 2.4Ghz 358 Mbps down/41 up connection. It’s definitely more than fast enough, but I noticed a slight tingling. On PC, that fickleness manifested in a drop in graphic fidelity and audio corruption. It hardly had any effect on gameplay, however, and I was able to make my way through Ghostrunner’s hyperspeed gameplay and Enter Gunjan with minimal problems.

But on my Fire TV Stick 4K Max, I experienced more disruptive issues including connection drops and pauses. They happened momentarily every 10 minutes, which was usually anxiety-provoking but sometimes really frustrating. It’s hard to completely immerse yourself in a game when you’re expecting something to go wrong. During one particularly turbulent session, I got so tired of being thrown at Super Mega Baseball that I put the controller down and walked away.

But no matter how bad the actual streaming, I never felt like I was experiencing latency from the controller—at least when it was connected to Cloud Direct. Even when the visuals started to stutter, I still felt like my inputs were being recorded, and it made my overall experience feel better than what I’ve experienced on services like Google Stadia.

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