ace, avatar

It’s rather interesting to me how nobody puts any value on the Deck trackpads in comparisons like these, and yet they are basically essential if you want the device to be able to play anything but console-optimized games / games that are built for gamepads first.

Playing something like Skyrim on one of the alternative portables can certainly be done, but being able to comfortably play games like Against the Storm, Anno, Civilization, Dwarf Fortress, Factorio, Homeworld, Northgard, OpenTTD, Stellaris, etc is where the Deck really shines and where all the “alternatives” fall completely flat.

Edit: Not to mention that trying to run Windows without any kind of direct mouse input is really painful, and all the “alternatives” keep doing exactly that.


It’s baffling especially because all of the other handhelds ship with a desktop operating system by default.


Yeah, it’s weird they all ship with windows instead of SteamOS. It’s not like Valve would’ve said no to anyone trying to use it, they’ve been trying to find partners for ages.


Yeah but they're already spending so much on hardware just to edge the Deck on performance alone. They're ignoring all the other stuff that makes the Deck great which is decent performance but fantastic flexibility.


Honestly no idea why Valve isn’t partnering with these companies or why these companies (presumably) aren’t reaching out to Valve.

They work together. Asus and Lenovo sell hardware. Steam maintains software and sells games. Consumers get a sick handheld. Everyone wins.

Maybe Valve just wants to have a limited hardware target for game devs.


I don't care that much gameplay wise. I don't play much without a controller.

Windows even with the trackpad is brutal, though. Without? Oof.

Ferk avatar

games like Against the Storm, Anno, Civilization, Dwarf Fortress, Factorio, Homeworld, Northgard, OpenTTD, Stellaris, etc

Note that none of those games are "Steam Deck Verified". They are at most "Playable", and often the controls is not the only issue Valve warns about (many also have small text that's hard to read). So playing them, while technically possible, is not really that great of an experience.

The issue is that not everyone wants to fiddle with controller settings, and sadly there's very few games that do take advantage of the trackpad and actually have proper first-class support for the Deck, with seamless idiot-proof integration.

And I say that despite being a Steam Controller owner (and I'd love a SC 2). The experience with "Verified" titles is much more seamless than having to check your controller mappings to understand what you need to press (or having convoluted layers / combinations for the more keyboard heavy ones... like say, ToME).

It's a bit sad that the trackpad is not getting much love from game devs. I'd have hoped that at least some games started allowing simultaneous input for gamepad and mouse, just so that they can earn a "Verified" badge. But that's still a problem, though some engines handle it better than others.


Eh I don’t think being verified means all that much because in my experience there are games that are verified that just don’t play well on a deck because the game doesn’t lend itself well to deck controls and there are others where the control factors keeping them from being verified are trivial but not addressable given valves strict definitions of ‘verified’. Example: Noita sucks on the deck and it’s verified. It’s like 10x more difficult to aim on the deck relative to a M+K setup and makes it feel clumsy as hell. Meanwhile, Against the Storm, Soulstone Survivors, Dwarf Fortress, and Civilization all have great experiences on the deck and I’ve happily played multiple hours of each chilling on my couch without a thought about the controls and none are verified.

circuitfarmer, avatar

Something similar occurred with the Steam Controller, which I loved. I’d show it to people, and they’d be like “OnLy OnE aNaLoG sTiCk, WhAt ThE hEcK?” and completely miss the point of the trackpads.

I can play strategy games with a freaking controller from the couch. That was always the appeal. You aren’t gonna be able to do that with a DualSense.

Also, the virtual trackball haptic on the Deck was developed for the Steam Controller. It’s surprisingly intuitive feeling.

ace, avatar

I’ve got a Steam Controller as well, was absolutely amazing sitting and playing Civ in my couch when I got it.

I’m hoping that Valve will release an updated version at some point, because there’s still not a single competing product available.


I’ve literally never used the trackpads outside the desktop interface.

I know there are cool custom ways to implement but I’m not a software developer.


For some people yeah. I just want a portable Windows PC that I can game with so something like the Ally is perfect for me. I also play a lot of games on Game Pass.

Kes, avatar

I’m honestly surprised Valve hasn’t made an open source de-Valved SteamOS similar to what Google does with Chromium for these other devices. Valve likely isn’t making much from hardware sales alone, with most of the value for them coming from the Steam store being a mobile gaming storefront as well as moving users away from Windows where Microsoft is looking to compete with them. Getting competitors to run Linux distros with a user interface designed for mobile consoles would boost the amount of Linux gamers which would make Valve less dependent on their competitor Microsoft, make developers more keen to support Linux, and spurn further development for Linux gaming tools. These other manufacturers will without a doubt support Steam as a storefront since Steam is such a dominant force in the PC gaming market so users of these other devices would still be in Valve’s ecosystem


Isn’t that just… Arch


That’s a good plan, it worked for Android


They did do this with the first version of SteamOS they made when they where trying to get non portable game consoles off the ground.

gamma, avatar

I’ve heard that this is what is causing SteamOS 3.5 to take so long.


I had an ROG Ally which I just returned. Currently waiting on the Legion Go now and see how the reviews are.

There were a few reasons why I picked the Ally over the Deck such as the screen and power but the main thing really was windows for GamePass. I already use it with my Xbox so just being able to natively play so many games was a value I couldn’t beat. Cross saves also work well so I could play something at home and then take the Ally with me on the go seamlessly. I think the Deck is great but personal factors made the Ally a no brainer.

My biggest complaint with Windows is how there’s no Big picture mode for the Xbox app. Steam on windows does better than Microsoft on its own platform. I hope there’s a fox for it at some point. Sleep is also really annoying but wasn’t that big of a deal breaker. Otherwise windows hasn’t been so bad. I’ve been enjoying using it as a desktop as well coding or watching Netflix etc. I know that goes against the grain in this community but there is definitely a place for Windows handhelds in the market. Now let’s hope Microsoft sees that and makes some changes so it works as flawlessly (at least 90% cmon) as the Deck does.


Sleep is also really annoying but wasn’t that big of a deal breaker.

This sentence really confused me.


Lol you know what , maybe I do need sleep.


The real problem is Microsoft hasnt released Windows Handheld Mode yet

So the handheld experience is kinda ass for eveey non steamdeck device


This is exactly what they need. At least a Big Picture mode where it boots to a launcher. That and they should scan all games on their computer. Not just Xbox games.


I’m also interested to see how the Legion Go will perform/compete. What makes that more interesting than the Ally is the expanded input selection and the “joy con” like controllers. If we could combine that with SteamOS or a similar OS to create a similar software experience, I think it would be a lucrative alternative.

The problem I have with the Ally is that for the performance improvement on the hardware side, you lose input selection, the optimized OS, and the battery life to run the bigger titles. Just not enough “oomph” to push me to commit to another handheld device.


Logitech’s handheld looks like it would be premo for gamepass, except it costs as much as a Steam Deck and is only a streaming device.

I keep waiting for them to flop so I can scoop one up and clearance.


Just install Windows on the Steam Deck or dual Boot to get one of the most satisfying OS

CalcProgrammer1, avatar

I have both the Deck and the ROG Ally. The Deck feels like a complete product and is great to use. The Ally is impressive when pushing over 100fps on relatively demanding games, but the overall user experience is garbage. Windows is a terrible platform for a handheld. I dual boot it with Arch now and can run gamescope session for the Deck experience, but I just recently figured out how to use ryzenadj for TDP control so I could see anything near full performance. The buttons don’t work for navigating the Steam UI when in game. Audio requires a UEFI override. It’s still a better experience than Windows but nothing compared to the “it just works” console style Deck experience. The Deck hardware is more ergonomic and has better designed controls too. Trackpads are incredibly overlooked.

addie, avatar

Yeah, reminds me of the original Gameboy. Weak hardware, terrible screen, great battery life, awesome first-party support, stupidly robust. Sold a hundred million or so. Up against the Game Gear and Atari Lynx, which although basically miniature consoles, had an unquenchable hunger for batteries and crap games. Complete turkeys. All of Nintendo’s other, very successful, handhelds continue the same idea; yes, a Switch is really underpowered compared to the newest Playstation, but that’s not it’s niche.

Yes; you can pack more powerful hardware into the space that a Deck, or a Switch, or even your phone, takes up. But is the amount of fun you get from that device increased in reasonable proportion to its increased cost?


You could have had a miniaturised nuclear reactor and I still don’t think it would have kept up with the game gears appetite 😁 great little device but missed the mark on intended use.


Yes; you can pack more powerful hardware into the space that a Deck, or a Switch, or even your phone, takes up. But is the amount of fun you get from that device increased in reasonable proportion to its increased cost?

This is one area where the Steam Deck may have got it wrong. The Switch has games made specifically for its hardware, so to a certain extent, the specs don’t matter. The Steam Deck though has already been reported to struggle with some games, even with the lowered resolution.

For a console that’s only about 18 months old, that’s a bit disappointing. I obviously wouldn’t expect it to be able to play new AAA games forever, but I would have thought that it would have taken a bit longer before it started to struggle.


There are games that aren’t appropriate for the hardware, 18 months old or not.

Some people struggle to grasp that.


That’s my point. This is a quote from the Steam Deck website:

We partnered with AMD to create Steam Deck’s custom APU, optimized for handheld gaming. It is a Zen 2 + RDNA 2 powerhouse, delivering more than enough performance to run the latest AAA games in a very efficient power envelope.

If I read that and bought a Steam Deck, then found out that it can’t run a new release smoothly, I wouldn’t be very happy.

It’s all well and good having a compatibility list for released games, but their marketing makes it sound like it can play anything.


A fair point.

Not moving the goalposts but steam offers the playability index. So to know “which” AAA games at “what” performance is really varied.

I think it is a bunch of media speak that they wrote there and is a poor representation of what the hardware can honestly do.

As always, it pays to research purchases thoroughly.


I mean yeah, they just jumped in with random devices, tried slapping more powerful hardware in and windows. They want that quick buck off the back of the Steam Deck success.


So, modest but capable hardware, and accessible pricing, enabled by scale and software sales. The modern handheld market might have had its roots in the revival of pocket PCs, but it's by far at its strongest when it's most console-like.

This is "the point" from the article, which is that we expect a portable handheld to provide an experience like a console portable handheld would, rather than a PC in a small form factor. My two cents is that I've found the Steam Deck's "sleep" function to be very much like a console's, and it's not something that Windows does very well.


Yup. It works well enough if you know your gonna jump right back in, but god forbid you wait a couple hours it’ll be dead. I’ve just started to turn the whole thing off every time now. I wish there was a hibernation option.

aebrer avatar

You may want to look into that... mine sleeps for a day or two at least typically.


I don’t play mine every day or even every week. The last time I turned it on was last Monday. I just checked and it’s exactly where I left off and at 6%. I have no idea how much battery I had when I put it into sleep mode, but it was likely full or pretty close.

Ferk avatar

They already took so much care to handle the suspend feature (they even support save syncing mid-game!). Solving the point you mentioned is the one thing that, in my view, would make it perfect.

The thing is that it's technically possible to handle this use case.. they could have programmed it so it goes into hibernation after X hours of being asleep (which could have been done by setting a wake up timer before the sleep state, the Linux kernel already allows it).

I wish some of the unofficial extensions implemented something like this, but I bet it's not so simple to hook into the pre-sleeping / post-sleeping codepath without messing up too much with the system... plus the risk of potentially causing the device to enter some inescapable loop.


Is killing the point? Just make it all better. Get rid of DRM and subscriptions to play your own games, let people use LAN and their own servers for multiplayer.


I think the biggest single factor they point out is the software side of things, in combination with the other factors such as hardware/price. Although the Deck ain’t beefy, it’s got enough juice to do a lot at a battery rate that isn’t terribly abysmal, especially for lighter indie titles and emulation.

The other factor here is outside support and adoption. There are tons of options for third party customization, such as skins, buttons, pads, cases, etc. Not saying these don’t exist for the competition, just not at the same scale. Kind of like finding support for a niche android phone versus an iPhone.


The Deck runs Starfield. It shouldn’t be able to yet here I am, zipping around space on the thing. Running Linux and how crazy effective Proton is, plus having trackpads to play Crusader Kings 3, it is hard to beat given it only cost a few hundred €s.


Yeah, it doesn't run well enough that I'd suggest it to anyone like that, but if you know what you're getting into and are willing to make sacrifices to play handheld, you can.

Cities are pretty bad though.


Depends on the city but the sheer fact it runs and you can jump between desktop and handheld at your leisure is a dream come true.

Given the recent discoveries of how unoptimised the game is, with incorrect usages of DX12 and lack of batched calls, should Bethesda fix those, we might see increased frames on Deck.

Relevant Proton pull request to hopefully work around this in the mean time.


I haven't even installed it on my desktop yet. I prefer handheld anyways and most of my playtime so far has been at work and throwing the deck in my bag on a camping trip. Combine a busy week with a campsite reserved for the weekend, then NFL opening week and I haven't went too crazy with it yet. I'm at about 7 hours.

But as choppy and low res as New Atlantis is, I can do what I need to there and get back to killing shit elsewhere. 20-25 and smeared isn't good, but it's not as painful is it could be. If there are fixes that can clean it up, that would be good, though.

I'm really enjoying what the game is. There are a lot of complaints that are comparing it to things it never claimed or tried to be, but as a broad Bethesda RPG with genuine choices on how you want to play, I like the design and I like how they marry the design with the setting. I've only followed the UC story line so far, and I think it does a good job of using advanced technology to explore various ethical ideas. I'm still pretty early there, but that's trademark sci fi genre. It's not just a space skin.


Ultimately i think its just a game of optimizing CPU. Thr steam decksnweakest component reletively speaking, is the cpu, given its zen+ based and not amy of the newer generations. Starfield, reletive to other AAA games, is fairly CPU heavy. Given its likely going to take the same mod direction as fallout or skyrim, itll eventually be fixed and there will likely be some veey basic modpack that optimizes specifically for the deck.

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