10 Games You Would Never Expect To Be So Good On Steam Deck
When the Steam Deck was announced it seemed like a more than capable mid-range gaming PC. However, now that it has been out for a while something anyone that has spent time with the device will be able to tell you is that the Steam Deck is capable of running games most thought impossible for a handheld device of its specs.
What’s more, is that the Steam Deck also has the ability to vastly improve your relationships with certain games. Whether it's being able to run a classic at a smooth 60fps or the novelty of playing the newest triple-A game on your bus to work – you will often find yourself just giddy that you can play these games in this form.
10 Half-Life 2
Half-Life has always been a PC series at heart – the first game revolutionised first person-shooters by leveraging the power of home computers while the sequels (alongside Counter-Strike) could very well be credited with the success of Steam.
While these games all got console ports, they never felt at home there. Something about controllers never fit the pace of action and often the games just ran badly. That is why it is so shocking that Gordon Freeman’s many misadventures feel so good on the Deck. Maybe it’s twenty years of being able to tinker with analogue stick’s deadzones and acceleration, maybe it is the option to use the trackpads for a more mouse-like look. But whatever it is, it makes playing these classics feel almost new again.
9 Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
The rip-roaring mayhem of Metal Gear Rising: Revenegeance pushed Xbox 360s and PS3s to their limits (and often beyond) resulting in one of the best character action games ever grinding to a halt in chaotic gameplay moments.
However, if you have played the “FPS boosted” version of this game through Xbox’s backward compatibility, you will now be able to see the developers' true intentions for this game. What’s more thanks to the Steam Deck, you can go past Platinum’s original ambitions of a silky smooth, thriller ride and take Revenegeance into the unknown. Or you can just play it in bed.
8 Metal Gear Solid 5
This spot could have gone to any of the great open-world games that were released on PS4 and Xbox One consoles and somehow still look great and run well on Steam Deck; Assassin’s Creed: Origins, The Witcher 3, Red Dead Redemption 2. But none of these sees more life brought back into them by the Steam Deck than Metal Gear Solid 5.
Playing what is almost inarguably the most refined and systemic stealth action gameplay of all time (the story is much more debatable), on a device only a bit bigger than a Switch is something to behold. Be warned though, you may find yourself getting sad about the fate of the franchise after going back to either this or Revengeance.
7 Cult Of The Lamb
Cult of The Lamb is here to represent all the small indie games that get taken to the next level by the Deck. It also represents one of the few games on this list that isn’t “verified” for use on the Steam Deck. However, just like a shocking number of games either labeled “playable” or “unknown” on the Deck, Cult of The Lamb not only runs perfectly on the system (if you are willing to fiddle with some settings), but it might just be the best place to play it.
While the Switch version of Cult of The Lamb is fine, it is held back by long load times and some glitches not seen on PC. On the Deck, you get the best of both worlds, and it is oh so good!
6 Apex Legends
Of course, Apex runs great here, it runs great everywhere (even on Switch, all things considered). The reason Apex is here is because of how good the Wi-Fi on Steam Deck is.
While you can plug your Deck into a USB hub and hook up an Ethernet cable that way, most people will play their Deck wirelessly. Whether it be download speeds, in-game pings or matchmaking times, getting into games with good and stable connections just feels like a lot less of a hassle on the Steam Deck than it does on something like the Switch.
5 Totally Accurate Battle Simulator and Teardown
These games might appear totally different, but both are grouped together here because they are centred around two extremely demanding simulations for hardware to deal with. Totally Accurate Battle Simulator sees you throw countless AI at each other, while Teardown is a voxel demolition sandbox.
Yes, once you really start spawning farmers to fight Romans or place a load of C4 in a wood house the framerate tanks in both these games, but they hardly ever crash. You will not be able to help yourself but laugh as your handheld slows to single-digit frames per second only to recover and keep going.
4 Tales Of Arise
JRPGs belong on handhelds. Pokemon, Persona, Fire Emblem. All these games are at their best when you can chip away at their long campaigns and countless side activities on the go.
While any of the ever-growing JRPGs on Steam could go here, Tales of Arise takes this slot for also being leagues beyond what most other handhelds are capable of visually. Its combat is engaging, its story sprawling, and it is very fun. Everything a JRPG should be.
3 Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal
It would be almost unfair to compare these two games to their Switch counterparts. Those ports are amazing technical achievements, but after playing both recent Doom games almost entirely uncompromised on the Steam Deck, it is pretty much impossible to go back to Nintendo’s versions of these games.
Doom is a classic, and now you can have all the epic single-player demon slaying goodness you could ever wish for on hand at all times.
2 All Of Sony’s First Party Games
The first few first-party Sony games that came to PC ran into some performance issues. However, now that the publisher has some more titles under its belt and has acquired PC porting house Nixxes, these ports have become the ultimate way to experience games like Horizon Zero Dawn, Marvel’s Spider-Man, God of War and whatever else is to come.
Being able to play the best of the PS4’s library on the go, at this level of fidelity would have been unthinkable even five years ago, but the Steam Deck makes it look easy.
1 Elden Ring
The best thing about the Steam Deck is how it allows for bite-size gaming sessions. Instead of banging your head against a wall for hours in a soul-like, sometimes you just need to do one or two runs a day, so you can get better and better but don’t get burnt out.
Often, when you're playing Elden Ring and you are getting your ass handed to you by Malenia Blade of Miquella over and over and over, you just need a break. The Deck lets you do that, maybe load up Vampire Survivors for a bit, put it in standby and stretch your legs. Maybe, just maybe, all you need is a change of scene, take your Deck outside find somewhere nice to sit, and suddenly you will be a lot less frustrated dying, over and over and over.
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