Now that Valve have sped upwards Steam Deck shipments, it seems like a good time to revisit the thirty best Steam Deck games. These aren’t but the best PC games that happen to work on the Deck, and they don’t need to have Verified condition from Valve themselves; rather, they’re the games that are either impressive showcases for the handheld’s power, or are specially comfortable fits for its controls and screen.
I know a lot of best-of lists are ordered by publishing bigwigs who want a Google-pleasing “engagement” scrap in the comments, but I’ll swear blind that’southward not the case here. These are games I’ve tried and genuinely enjoyed playing on the Steam Deck, without bumping into whatsoever technical/compatibility issues, across my still-many months of testing and reporting on it. Though hey, if y’all’ve just got your Deck and want some inspiration on what to install commencement, you can definitely count these as recommendations.
Of course, one-half the fun of a Steam Deck compared to handheld consoles is that virtually of your existing Steam library will likely exist playable out of the box, so exist certain to try your favourites even if they’re not on this list. And, while we’re on the subject of maximising your Deck’southward potential, you can likewise check out our Steam Deck battery life guide, my picks of the best microSD cards for the Steam Deck, and how to install the Ballsy Games Launcher on the Steam Deck.
Now, in no particular order: the 30 best Steam Deck games.
Aperture Desk Job
The brusk and sweet Aperture Desk Job isn’t only one of the best games to play on the Steam Deck – information technology should probably be the offset one you try. Information technology’s essentially a Steam Deck tutorial, designed to help y’all go used to the controls layout, just is entertainingly administered through a genuinely funny mini-jaunt through a pre-Portal Aperture Science. It’s a clever, surprising, and unrelentingly charming introduction to your new gadget, not a mention a reminder that Valve should really make more than games.
Stray shakes off notions of merely beingness a haha-funny-true cat novelty game with some stellar worldbuilding and intuitive puzzle-platforming, helped along past a sleek context-sensitive traversal style. This translates perfectly to the Steam Deck’southward controls, and despite beingness a bit of a looker, Stray avoids any serious operation issues on the portable hardware. At that place’southward some very occasional stuttering but that’due south present on high-finish desktop PCs as well, and if you simply lower the Effects quality setting from High to Medium, you shouldn’t drib below 30fps.
Hades claimed, by Advent Calendar rules, RPS GOTY status dorsum in 2020. And it’s simply as tense, inventive and witty on the Steam Deck: it runs at a perfect 60fps, and only needs the face buttons and a single thumbstick for its slick, combo-happy gainsay. Being a rougelike – generally – it wouldn’t unremarkably be as suited for short bursts of portable play, say on a autobus ride, only the Deck’s quick resume feature lets y’all have a break whenever and immediately hop back into a run.
For all of its performance hiccups on Windows, Elden Ring is such a good match for the Steam Deck that it’s earned Verified condition from Valve. It’due south certainly more than comfortable to play and navigate menus with the thumbsticks than to deal with Elden Ring’due south wonky mouse and keyboard support, and running on Proton – with its shader pre-caching feature – actually helps smooth out the stutters that you’d still get on native Windows, months after release.
If y’all’re like me (or Katharine) and don’t accept the patience, temperament, or paw-middle coordination for Soulslikes, you lot may notice Death’s Door more palatable. Information technology’s a less demanding, though still challenging, have on “How practice I kill this dude no expect I am dead” RPGs that also happens to suit the Steam Deck very comfortably indeed. I actually tried playing it on my desktop after first trying information technology on the Deck, and speedily abandoned the mouse and keyboard for a return to the handheld’s twin sticks. It’due south easy to go a solid 60fps, too.
Forza Horizon v
Feel-good racer Forza Horizon 5 is a natural fit for gamepad-fashion controls, and the Steam Deck’s haptic shoulder buttons even give it a piffling shake to enhance that feeling of stomping the accelerator. When launching it from Steam I’d suggest lowering the graphics settings to Medium for suitably speedy performance, and if you’re a PC Game Laissez passer Ultimate subscriber y’all can stream it instead.
Portal two was 1 of first games Valve showed running on the Steam Deck, and it’s clear why. It runs smoothly, doesn’t need a mouse and keyboard, and is even one of least demanding games I’ve tried in terms of battery life drain – well-nigh 3D games tend to carouse a full charge in around two hours, half of the four that Portal 2 took. Information technology’s also a successful showcase of the device’south rear buttons, which let you jump or crouch without taking your portal-aiming thumb off the right stick.
Commencement-person speedrunner Neon White has sparked a high score war that’due south engulfed, and perhaps shattered the friendships of, well-nigh half the RPS squad. It will indeed scratch any hypercompetitive itches you may accept, though information technology’s besides a skilful i to enjoy in a more relaxed state – say, in bed, or upside down on the sofa. That’s because Neon White runs similar a dream on the play-anywhere Steam Deck, holding business firm at 60fps throughout. Besides, since private levels take just seconds to complete, it’s perfect to dip in and out of using the Deck’s quick suspend/resume feature.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Steam Deck wouldn’t exist a consumer electronics product if information technology didn’t run The Elder Scrolls Five: Skyrim, only this time Todd H. won’t need to sell you a whole new copy. Other than some slight UI awkwardness when trying to blazon in a new character name, this is the enticingly sprawling Skyrim that we’ve known for years – merely explorable on a handheld.
With its early anti-cheat compatibility problems all fixed, Noon Legends is both one of Steam’s near-played games and one of the finest multiplayer shooters on the Steam Deck. For those nonetheless to fully acclimatise to the Deck’s inputs, it’s besides something of a crucible: when you’re getting matched up against mouse flick headshot masters, you’ve got an awfully adept reason to practice teasing more than precise shots from the trackpads.
God of War
Dad jokes aside, the human relationship-centred narrative and otherworldly beauty of God of State of war show how much it’s grown up from the series’ edgy early days. Still, the PlayStation link does assistance make information technology a natural fit for the Steam Deck’south controller-esque buttons and thumbsticks, and it runs decently on ‘Original’ graphics settings. Y’all can always lower these or switch on its native FSR upscaling if y’all’d prefer a higher, smoother frame rate.
Horizon Nil Dawn
Like God of War, Horizon Goose egg Dawn is a onetime PlayStation exclusive that makes a seamless transition to the Steam Deck. Hopefully its sequel Horizon Forbidden W is upward for a PC port next, as everything in Guerrilla’s original, RPG-tinged open earth adventure works nigh perfectly on the Deck’due south hardware. Also similar God of War, there are higher frame rates to be by lowering the quality settings, though the 40fps-ish you’ll get on the Original preset is amusing plenty.
Metallic Gear Rising: Revengeance
Personally I discover myself drawn back to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance every few years, eager for a refresh on its breakneck hack and/or slashing and gloriously campy script. On the about recent replay I institute information technology’s too an excellent Steam Deck game, the smaller screen doing nothing to constrict the joys of bisecting battle mechs and stealing cyborg spines for food. Also, the speakers are good plenty for that chip in every boss fight where the lyrics kick in every bit a new stage starts. Y’know, the all-time bits in the entire game. Yessss, that’s the stuff.
Expiry Stranding Director’s Cut
I thought twice most including this, as – not to just go for the lowest-hanging of Kojima fruit – some of the cutscenes are then long that your Steam Deck might be down half a alter by the end of them. Otherwise, though, Decease Stranding Director’due south Cut plays similar a dream, with seamlessly adjusted controls and smooth performance even without FSR switched on.
Monster Hunter Rise
What better PC game to play on a handheld than i originally adult 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 – equally well. In places, peculiarly UI navigation, it ofttimes feels more natural to utilize the Deck’due south more Switch-like controls than a keyboard, and the and so-so visuals are a lot easier to forgive on a 7in screen than on a 27in, 1400p desktop monitor.
Playable MMOs are in short supply on the Steam Deck, whether information technology be down to anti-cheat software refusing to shake Proton’s paw or complex controls that just can’t go without a keyboard. Nevertheless, I was impressed by how the free-to-play Albion Online adapts to the Steam Deck’s inputs and screen. One or two push presses can handle a full loadout of items and spells, and if using a trackpad to direct the mouse cursor doesn’t feel quite right, you lot tin can simply prod the touchscreen instead.
RimWorld is one of very few games – seriously, hardly any – to have been patched specifically to ameliorate how it works on the Steam Deck. That means the interface, an easily overwhelming patchwork of icons, indicators, logs, tabs and other tiny-typefaced elements, remains legible on the 1280×800 screen. You tin can also zoom in further, and ringlet through lists past swiping the touchscreen. All very thoughtful additions that might but help your sandbox base-edifice efforts end in survival rather than starvation.
Another Bethesda RPG with Steam Deck cred. Valve’due south review organisation classes Fallout 4 as Playable, one step below the gilded standard of Verfied, only as far as I can tell that’s but mainly because the initial launcher screen requires bear upon input (thumbsticks and D-pad inputs aren’t recognised) and you can’t bind the rear buttons from the in-game settings menu. And there’s an easy workaround for that: just customise the controller settings in SteamOS so that the rear buttons can spoof a dissimilar 1. Everything else works but fine.
Valve were so keen on making Half-Life 2 suitable for their portable PC that they went back, early in 2022, to optimise the 2004 shooter’s UI – then it would exist more than all-around to a meaty touchscreen. Unsurprisingly, information technology also takes maximum reward of all the Deck’s bells and whistles, giving you lot a full choice betwixt thumbstick, trackpad or gyroscope aiming.
Final Fantasy 15
I’ll confess, I’ve spent hours using Terminal Fantasy 15 for hardware benchmarking, merely had never sat down to properly play until trying information technology out on the Steam Deck. And it’south keen – the controls adjust perfectly, and Medium video settings evangelize fine frame rates without knackering quality. High is playable too, though you’ll be dipping close to 30fps at points.
Super Meat Boy
2d platformers rarely show off the Steam Deck’s upper capabilities, merely they’re still an ideal lucifer for the hardware. Thumbstick controls, no existent advantage for frame rates above 60fps, low demands on graphics power and battery life? Few genres are as handheld-friendly, as Super Meat Boy capably demonstrates. So again, maybe I should have picked an easier one – as fast, fun and ultimately rewarding as Super Meat Boy is, its bastard-hardness volition require the cocky-control to resist hurling your handheld into the nearest wall.
Another top 2D jumper is Celeste. While sharing a wicked fondness for insta-decease hazard dodging, information technology’s not quite the pressure cooker that Super Meat Boy is, and tempers the challenge with a stronger story accent and a more considered, melancholy temper. The Steam Deck’due south controls are upward to the task, likewise, fifty-fifty if you only need a small selection of them.
Lovely piddling life-change sim Unpacking feels, appropriately, right at domicile on the Steam Deck. If anything, the leisurely pace of its stacking and arranging puzzles is a better fit for those moments of melting into a sofa or lazing around in bed, Deck in hand, than it is for sitting up straight at your PC’southward desk. I also dear how yous can apply the touchscreen to elevate your lifetime of bric-a-brac effectually the room, though the left thumbstick works well as well.
Should y’all fancy a spot of portable dread, Alien: Isolation is a skilful bet. Some of the text is a bit pocket-size on the Steam Deck’due south 7in screen – not ideal if yous need subtitles – but it handles well, and runs beautifully. It seldom drops below 60fps on Ultra quality, not that y’all’ll be spending as well much time looking at the FPS counter when at that place’s an entire space station’s worth of suspicious bangs, flickering lights and murder machines vying for attention.
Every bit if I’d pass upwards an opportunity to recommend Deathloop. Arkane’s funky time looper-shooter is best served on the Steam Deck with Medium to High graphics settings: try to max them out and yous’ll become dips beneath 30fps. Only other than that smidge of technical particular, it’s all fun and games for Deathloop, with fully adapted controls and total back up for its tricksy multiplayer mode.
Kentucky Route Zip
The streamlined bespeak-and-clicking of Kentucky Road Zilch helps it settle onto the Steam Deck rather effortlessly. I kinda wish it would employ the D-pad to flick through carte options rather than the right thumbstick, but that’s a personal gripe that inappreciably dulls this game’due south best bits: the story’s boring uncovering, the moments of quiet contemplation, and the gorgeous fine art. All of these are present and current whether yous play Kentucky Route Naught on a Steam Deck or a £3000 titan of a desktop.
Ori and the Blind Wood
The newer Ori and the Will of the Wisps is classed as Unsupported on the Steam Deck, which is a surprise – I could load and play it for a while without result, so perhaps there are moments or mechanics further in which crusade issues. The original Ori and the Bullheaded Forest, past contrast, has full Verified status, and its lushly animated platforming plays as smoothly equally you lot’d similar.
“Outer Wilds is best experienced with a game pad”, says its opening splash. A Steam Deck will suffice as well, assuasive you lot to to bask this cute, thoughtful generator of ill-fated space adventures away from your main PC.
Strategy games are where the Steam Deck’s trackpads set information technology autonomously from most handheld control setups. XCOM 2 is probably withal best played with a mouse and keyboard, merely the trackpad (and, occasionally, touchscreen) allow you to proceed total command of the cursor in both the tactical fightin’ and strategic commandin’ segments. I’d recommend Medium graphics settings over anything higher, though other than that, XCOM 2 is fix to deploy directly from the first startup.
Using the Steam Deck’s chunky shoulder buttons to blast monsters and toss office furniture feels great, and since there’south an awful lot of both in Control, it’s another third-person actioner that comfortably suits portable play. It’southward also an excellent game in general, with a brilliantly realised SCP-esque setting and combat that begins at simple shooting and ends at thrilling telekinetic battles. The simply downside is that it’s a bit hard on the Deck’s GPU, so stick with a combination of Medium and Low settings to avoid performance wobbles.