15 Games To Play On Your Steam Deck
It’s been about a year since the Steam Deck entered our lives and with the rise of the Asus ROG Ally and Nintendo Switch it looks like handheld gaming isn’t going anywhere soon. The Steam Deck is designed to play a good chunk of the games you probably already own in your Steam library. It’s been an awesome experience so far for RPGs and basically any game. But limitation wise I’d probably stick to something that can be controlled with a gamepad.
We’ve got a list here of a variety of games that play really well on the Steam Deck. And if you’re looking for accessories for your device then we’ve got that for you too (new tab.) In no particular order, let’s get on with our list!
Hades is one of the best games out on the Nintendo Switch and plays like a dream on there. So it’s no surprise that it runs well on the Steam Deck. If you haven’t played this game on a handheld or at all then you’re missing out! Hades plays at a perfect 60fps and only needs the face buttons and a single thumbstick for its slick, combo-happy combat. Being a roguelike – mostly – it wouldn’t normally be as suited for short bursts of portable play, say on a bus ride. But the Deck’s quick resume feature lets you take a break whenever and immediately hop back into a run.
Narratively, Hades follows Zagreus, the son of the titular god, as he attempts to leave the Underworld for Olympus. The journey is brutal and, more importantly, memorable.
In line with Hades‘ action, Hi-Fi Rush actually performs better on the Steam Deck than on PC. Tango Gameworks’ surprise rhythm action/hack-and-slash/platformer hybrid is a funny and satisfying brawler with some creative boss fights.
Boasting striking visual design and a stellar soundtrack, Hi-Fi Rush is a feast for the senses. Ultimately, high production value does not mean that much if the gameplay is not up-to-snuff, which is something that Tango clearly understands. Hi-Fi Rush rewards players who synch their movement with the beat, and this goes beyond providing a power boost in combat. Even explorative actions benefit from this synergy.
This is more or less a perfect match game for the Steam Deck and runs at a nearly constant 60-45fps.
The Witcher 3
CD Projekt Red
The Witcher 3 is one of the all-time great fantasy RPGs and deserves a place on every list. It has pulled countless gamers into its epic tale of fantasy, with a thrilling main story, a massive number of engaging side-quests, and characters who you can’t help but fall in love with. And now you can take a pretty new version of this modern classic with you on the go.
The Witcher 3 recently received a very gorgeous “next-gen” update that included new graphical rendering options and new gameplay options. With the FidelityFX Super Resolution in there now too, it should help with its Steam Deck performance.
Neon White is designed for speedrunning. The goal is to repeat stages in search of progressively quicker times, and while that might seem like a niche structure, the game’s strong fundamentals give it wide appeal. Neon White builds its platforming and combat on a card-based system that forces the player to think on their feet, and executing a perfect run after memorizing the stage’s layout is incredibly satisfying.
As stages do not last more than a few minutes, this is the perfect Steam Deck game for short bus rides or quick breaks. Admittedly, Neon White‘s addictive nature makes it difficult to put down once someone finds their rhythm, which might lead to some missed meetings.
Stray is an adventure sci-fi game about a (mostly) standard cat that finds itself in a city of robots. Looking to make its way back home, the adorable feline sets out on a charming journey that takes it to sewers, bars, and neon-lit streets. There is some stellar worldbuilding and intuitive puzzle-platforming, helped along by a sleek context-sensitive traversal style.
This translates perfectly to the Steam Deck’s controls, and despite being a bit of a looker, Stray avoids any serious performance issues on the portable hardware. There’s some very occasional stuttering but that’s present on high-end desktop PCs as well, and if you simply lower the Effects quality setting from High to Medium, you shouldn’t drop below 30fps.
One of the best games in the world is very playable on the Steam Deck. In fact, due to some performance hiccups on Windows, it might actually be better to play on the Deck. It’s certainly more comfortable to play and navigate than to deal with Elden Ring’s wonky mouse and keyboard support. And running on Proton – with its shader pre-caching feature – actually helps smooth out the stuttering that plagues the Windows adaptation.
Rise, Tarnished, and be guided by grace to brandish the power of the Elden Ring and become an Elden Lord in the Lands Between.
No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky has had a long redemption arc, and the fact it runs without Proton and has an official controller layout that works just fine gives it a great advantage on the Deck. In fact, the Steam Deck is one of the best ways to play this space-exploration sim. Switching down the settings might be necessary when you start flinging particle effects everywhere but otherwise, it runs really well and gives you a vast universe to explore.
The smaller screen and lower resolution just make those voxels come together in a way I’m not used to seeing on a 4k screen. I even find myself leaving the scan lines feature turned on, something I’ve habitually shut off for as long as I can remember. On Deck, though, that visual effect is no longer an eyesore; it actually adds character and sort of smooths out the rougher edges of the presentation. I’d love the font to be a touch larger on the Deck, but the game makes up for it with its vibrant visuals and grand scope, which I find sit so well on the smaller screen that they convey a sense of scale often lost on larger resolutions.
If you love No Man’s Sky check out our list of upcoming similar games.
Embark on a unique and unforgettable journey and guide Sable through her Gliding; a rite of passage that will take her across vast deserts and mesmerizing landscapes, capped by the remains of spaceships and ancient wonders.
A super controller-friendly game that runs smoothly on the Steam Deck owing to its simple, cel-shaded graphics. Not only will a long session not eat too much into your battery, but it’ll also leave a heck of a lot of space for other games, with how small the files are. Not like there are many textures here to eat into your storage space.
Death Stranding Director’s Cut
The “director’s cut” of Hideo Kojima’s weird 2019 walkathon Death Stranding is worth playing on the Steam Deck. If you enjoy this game and haven’t given the expanded version a try, I highly recommend it. It is easily the best version with an expanded vehicle selection, new missions, and higher difficulty. The PC version also has the gravity gloves from Half-Life: Alyx. Picking up packages has never been easier!
Death Stranding is Deck verified, and with the right graphics settings, the Deck is a great way to enjoy the thrills of delivering packages in a post-apocalyptic world while avoiding floating dead people and keeping your BB happy. You know, If you’re into that sort of thing.
Monster Hunter Rise
What better PC game to play on a handheld than one originally developed for a handheld? Monster Hunter Rise began life as a Nintendo Switch exclusive before a respectable PC port made it playable on Windows – and thus, the Steam Deck – as well. In places, particularly UI navigation, it often feels more natural to use the Deck’s more Switch-like controls than a keyboard, and the so-so visuals are a lot easier to forgive on a 7-inch screen than on a 27-inch, 1400p desktop monitor.
Rise to the challenge and join the hunt! In Monster Hunter Rise, the latest instalment in the award-winning and top-selling Monster Hunter series, you’ll become a hunter, explore brand-new maps and use a variety of weapons to take down fearsome monsters as part of an all-new storyline.
Extremely OK Games
Don’t come at me but I think all 2D platformers are meant to be played on a handheld. Or at least a controller. I’m a PC-gamer through and through but there are some genres that just feel better off a keyboard. So here’s Celeste, one of the best 2D-platformers to date. It’s challenging with a gorgeous atmosphere and strong storytelling.
The story follows Madeline as she climbs a mountain that echoes her personal struggles. Consequently, the punishing gameplay complements the narrative being told, reflecting the protagonist’s insecurities and trauma.
Studio MDHR Entertainment Inc.
Next on the list of unforgettable 2D platformers is Cuphead. This hard-as-nails platformer is inspired by classic cartoons as you can tell. Cuphead has gorgeous visuals, tight controls, and many brilliantly designed bosses that yearn to make players suffer.
The best Steam Deck games might be the ones that cater to shorter play sessions, and Cuphead is one such title. Now, while the levels themselves are not extremely long, their high difficulty greatly expands their completion time, so they do require commitment. Also, try to resist the urge to fling the Steam Deck out of a window out of sheer frustration.
The undisputed champion of indie games, even among all other indies this one lives in its own tier. Stardew Valley plays well on the console, on the PC, on the Nintendo Switch and even on mobile. The game plays well everywhere and of course, it does on the Steam Deck. If the Deck is your new favourite handheld console and you’re a fan of Stardew Valley then it’s a no-brainer to have this game on there.
Charming, ambitious, and addictive, Stardew Valley is reaching the point when it can be called timeless.
Another story-driven game that lends itself really well to use with a controller. The relaxed pace and bold, chunky art are a good match for chilling with the Deck. The menu text is a good size and the graphics aren’t hugely intensive either. Not to mention its minimal file size.
Firewatch is a single-player first-person mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness, where your only emotional lifeline is the person on the other end of a handheld radio. The year is 1989. Perched high atop a mountain, it’s your job to look for smoke and keep the wilderness safe. An especially hot, dry summer has everyone on edge. But when something strange draws you out of your lookout tower and into the forest, you’ll explore a wild and unknown environment, facing questions and making choices that can build or destroy the only meaningful relationship you have.
Cyberpunk 2077 may have launched a bit stuttered, but recent updates have dramatically changed and improved it for the better. And it even runs remarkably well on Steam Deck with Cyberpunk 2077 even getting its own ‘Steam Deck’ settings in the graphics menu. It’s a bit more of a 30fps setting game but plays remarkably well. And it’s been extremely rewarding to explore Night City on the go.
Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world, action-adventure RPG set in the megalopolis of Night City, where you play as a cyberpunk mercenary wrapped up in a do-or-die fight for survival. Improved and featuring all-new free additional content, customize your character and playstyle as you take on jobs, build a reputation, and unlock upgrades. The relationships you forge and the choices you make will shape the story and the world around you. Legends are made here. What will yours be?