Steam Deck, Valve's Answer to the Nintendo Switch; Now Set For February Release After Suffering a Delay

neema_t

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I tried my brother's Switch out this weekend, played quite a lot of Burnout Paradise to get an idea of what games (particularly racing games) look and play like at 720p on a ~7" screen - not bad at all, although Burnout Paradise got even harder towards the end because as the cars get faster, you need to be looking further ahead and you really can't when it's all so small. Still very playable, though, and Forza Horizon 4 had adjustable FOV for all of the camera views too so I would hope 5 does as well which should make things easier.

Not too sure about the width and weight of the thing, though, it's as wide as my laptop and considerably heaver than the Switch, although I was usually resting the Switch/my arms on things anyway so the extra weight may not matter in the end? Dunno. Also the reflections were pretty bad, I assume you can get anti-glare screen protectors?

I also spent some time going through my Steam library and separating all my games by their ProtonDB ratings, very few of the games I own are "borked" and they're almost all things I don't have any interest in playing anyway. I haven't finished categorising everything yet but it's looking quite good in terms of compatibility so far.
 

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What I love more than anything else about the Switch's handheld portability is that it apparently floats other people's boats -- to help make it a better platform for all my non-racing-game and non-PC-game needs, to keep providing what it provides that PC gaming and the x86 twins don't. I do not really get the appeal of handheld gaming, so I echo those thoughts here.

For what it's worth, the Steam Deck sure makes a hell of a lot more sense than the crazy fantasies of playing games entirely via the internet, especially with the trouble I've had with latency in Guild Wars 2 lately (it is a crime to expect my character to do something sometime soon after the first time I press a button?). I welcome it to the fold. But (at risk of dating myself) this seems more like a Sega Nomad or handheld-ized Neo Geo than a strong competitor in the market. Too powerful for its own good (energy, heat), without enough to stand apart.

It makes me wonder -- are laptops really so outmoded already? Sure, a low-cutting price point is part of the deal here, but a laptop offers so much more utility over any handheld device, and is nearly as portable...
 

neema_t

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Too powerful for its own good (energy, heat), without enough to stand apart.
That describes basically all gaming laptops too, though. I found one that claims to last 4 hours (with a 1080p screen instead of 4K) and that was $1,700, and I found another that's only double the price of the entry level Deck and that lasts 3 and a half... While browsing, not gaming. It also gets too hot for you to want to put it on your lap (120F, ~50C) which suddenly makes an already less portable device even less portable. You can't play a game on a laptop while standing up, and there are several entire genres of game that you flat out can't play without a mouse or controller... The gap is bigger than you make it sound, IMO.
 

Wolfe

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@neema_t --The bit about laptops was kind of a tangent after the bit you quoted, and you're merely elaborating what "nearly as" means in the previous post. I know it's a handheld device, and the price difference alone is substantial compared to gaming laptops in particular.
 
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Can it run WRC9, Ride4, MotoGP21 at 800p/60 fps with decent graphic settings (hum maybe 60 fps is asking too much... but still)? The digital triggers on the Switch ruin the whole driving experience unfortunately.
 
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Wolfe

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Can it run WRC9, Ride4, MotoGP21 at 800p/60 fps with decent graphic settings (hum maybe 60 fps is asking too much... but still)? The digital triggers on the Switch ruin the whole driving experience unfortunately.
Quick aside for my curiosity -- does WRC do well enough on the Switch apart from the digital triggers (yay, patent sharks), in your opinion?
 
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If you play it on a TV (docked) with the Switch Pro Controller it's passable. The digital triggers really takes out all of the fun because part of it comes from the nuanced controls/handling of the car.
Handheld is even more tricky - the commands (joystick) are way too sensitive, the screen is too small (almost unplayable in cockpit view making the whole experience tiring), the graphics took a big hit due to the Switch specs (the environment almost has no vegetation/bushes, only sparse threes here and there) although the physics are there... Overall considering the price it doesn't worth it for me - this coming from a huge WRC8/9 assumed fan. I bought WRC8 and 9 for Switch but will not buy WRC10 for Switch for sure. I'm terrible playing on it.

For reference/comparison i also play it at 110% (or 120% not sure) difficulty with the joypad on a Xbox Series X and consistently come in first (depends a bit on the stage) and find it one of the most fun games (literally) to play. Fighting with the road/controlling slides, jumps, doing hairpins just feels fantastic. To really appreciate it however only a PC, PS5 or Xbox Series X at 60fps will do it in my opinion. The Switch as much as i like it, it's not up to the task/able to offer the same granularity of control you have in the other platforms.

Same for MotoGP, approaching turns either full throttle or with no throttle is no fun (on the Switch) - you either slide and crash or lose way to much time waiting until you can go full throttle again at the end of the turn - there's no mid term and tapping the throttle multiple times is weird and imprecise. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit on the other side works a bit better due to its arcade nature - you can slide while in full throttle.

I'm aware the screen is still a bit small on the Steam Deck but if the controls/handling and graphics are up to the task (at 30 or 60fps ideally) i may end up buying it.
 
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Wolfe

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@Aegis -- Thanks for the detailed insight. It gives me a better idea of what to expect than just reading NintendoLife's reviews of VR4 and WRC8. 👍
Same for MotoGP, approaching turns either full throttle or with no throttle is no fun (on the Switch) - you either slide and crash or lose way to much time waiting until you can go full throttle again at the end of the turn - there's no mid term and tapping the throttle multiple times is weird and imprecise.
For motorcycle games, I turn on split brakes and use the right stick for the throttle and front brake, and what would be ZR on the Switch for the rear brake. It makes sense to me as a rider -- throttle and front brake on the right, rear brake also on the right, down "below".

On the Switch I go with the right analog stick for anything that benefits from it, like back in the days before analog triggers were standard (although the DS2's pressure sensitivity works pretty well in hindsight). It's a shame that Nintendo is (apparently) only shy about repeating a feature they helped innovate because of a run-in with a patent shark company, as I noted.
 
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Can it run WRC9, Ride4, MotoGP21 at 800p/60 fps with decent graphic settings (hum maybe 60 fps is asking too much... but still)? The digital triggers on the Switch ruin the whole driving experience unfortunately.
About MotoGP/Ride4 this year I tested the MotoGP20 and Ride4 on an old 2GB R9 270x and you can run both games in 1080p and 45/60 frames per second with low settings on both, Deck is similar in performance (probably better because It is a newer architecture and compared to the R9 200 series it will be better optimized for current games), so yes, it is very likely that you can play those games at 800p and 60fps on the Steam Deck
 
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@Aegis -- Thanks for the detailed insight. It gives me a better idea of what to expect than just reading NintendoLife's reviews of VR4 and WRC8. 👍

For motorcycle games, I turn on split brakes and use the right stick for the throttle and front brake, and what would be ZR on the Switch for the rear brake. It makes sense to me as a rider -- throttle and front brake on the right, rear brake also on the right, down "below".

On the Switch I go with the right analog stick for anything that benefits from it, like back in the days before analog triggers were standard (although the DS2's pressure sensitivity works pretty well in hindsight). It's a shame that Nintendo is (apparently) only shy about repeating a feature they helped innovate because of a run-in with a patent shark company, as I noted.
I already read something about this (using the right joystick for the throttle) but never tried it. I'm so used to the triggers due to the years playing with them in other consoles i guess it will be really hard to rewire the brain to use that setup. Guess i have to at least give it a try. Hope i don't mess both configs/muscle memory in my head :)


About MotoGP/Ride4 this year I tested the MotoGP20 and Ride4 on an old 2GB R9 270x and you can run both games in 1080p and 45/60 frames per second with low settings on both, Deck is similar in performance (probably better because It is a newer architecture and compared to the R9 200 series it will be better optimized for current games), so yes, it is very likely that you can play those games at 800p and 60fps on the Steam Deck
That's good to know. Thanks for the info @seco46. Hope we don't have to sacrifice the detail/quality too much though. Playing Ride4 on a portable anywhere would be awesome - i certainly need the training. Still don't play it with manual gears (only car games), but I've got used to the helmet view already...
 
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neema_t

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So, assuming it isn't a flop and you do buy one, what kinds of games do you want play on your Steam Deck?

For me, really don't think it'd be AAA games of any kind (at least not recent ones) it'd be more like simple games that are easy to pick up and games I've already finished and want to replay. Fortunately I've already seen how Disco Elysium looks on it (great!), I just finished it and want to play it again, but I think Jedi: Fallen Order and Control are maybe too much; they won't run that well and they're definitely best enjoyed on a big screen at high resolution. Brigador, on the other hand, I bet would be great on a handheld (particularly one that can pretend to have a mouse connected, but we'll see), as would Outer Wilds (expansion coming soon, perfect reason to revisit!) as it's visually quite simple, a slow-paced game and the whole time loop thing means it's fairly low stakes. Into The Breach and FTL would also play great on a touchscreen device. There are just so many games like these out there.

I don't know if anyone else does this, but I've decided to accept that my Steam library is full of games I'll never actually play and I've picked out all the games I do actually want to get around to and made a category for them. The thing is, whenever I'm looking to play something I just go straight for that category and pick something new, which means I never replay things I've already finished. To try to help that I've made a new category for games I know I either want to keep playing because I didn't 100% them or others I just want to start again, and I think the Deck might be how I finally revisit those as I won't necessarily need to give the games my full attention and I might not get as strongly engrossed in them as I did the first time, so a handheld would be great for those.

Also: Point & click games. My Deck could easily be a Full Throttle/Blade Runner/Myst/etc. machine.
 

Wolfe

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Outer Wilds (expansion coming soon, perfect reason to revisit!)
:eek:

I'm kicking myself for the number of things I almost miss lately. Maybe I should pick up the game on PC for this instead of going back in on PS4. Personally -- absolutely a big-screen game, not like that isn't true of everything for me. Someone could glue my Switch to the dock and it would take several months for me to notice.
 
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So, assuming it isn't a flop and you do buy one, what kinds of games do you want play on your Ste
Assuming I get one, I'm going top-end. Mainly would be for Paradox strategy fare, FF X and 12, and also totally not a PS1/possibly PS2 emulator thing.
 

Terronium-12

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So, assuming it isn't a flop and you do buy one, what kinds of games do you want play on your Steam Deck?
Totally didn't think about this until now. Definitely going to throw all of the Guilty Gear games and Dragonball FighterZ and spend majority of my time playing those whenever and getting in practice. Aside from that, I'll have some PS1 games and will maybe try Forza Horizon on it.

There's more but I'd be here all night. :lol:
 

neema_t

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Oh yeah, emulators too, PS1/2 and Dreamcast games are another thing I never usually want to play while sat at my PC. I'm really keen to see how it does with emulators, I imagine most people are. Although I must admit I don't really know what I'd play on those emulators; Front Mission 3, Armoured Core, I guess GT2 or 4 (if it runs PS2 games well enough), I suppose I could embarrass myself with Ridge Racer Type 4 some more.

@Darla Starch Apart from FF X being rated silver you're probably going to have good results with those... Not sure I'd want to do that much reading on such a small screen though, CK3 is full of pretty small text! Playing Escape Velocity: Nova on a Deck would be great but when you're not in your ship the very text-driven UI looks like this:

37009.jpg


I have a feeling it won't be very readable at 800p on a 7" screen. Obviously I will still try, though, as it's one of my all-time favourite games. Endless Sky (a free open source game heavily inspired by EV:N) might even be modded to work better with the Deck so I guess that's something to keep an eye on.

@Terronium-12 I mentioned before that I'm really keen to see if it can do Forza Horizon games, the only thing is FH4 is rated silver and even the positive reports still say there are issues with graphics, sound, control, networking, DLC and performance - basically everything. Hopefully Valve's statements about there being a lot of unreleased progress with Proton are, you know, true and FH4 (and hopefully therefore 5) will be fixed by the time the Deck starts shipping. Alternatively I guess you could just install Windows, but I'm really keen to not do that. Then again it was Forza that motivated me to update from Windows 7 to 10 all those years ago, so I am evidently quite weak.
 

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Gaben has confirmed "its just a pc". There's no bootloaders or uefi rom thing that stops it from booting windows or linux or anything x86... it runs steam os but I would bet win10 and 11 will be the next dominant os on it.

I find it be a great curio but its larger heavier than a switch and I find the switch already to be an onerous handheld device.

I love the tech, have no use for it.
 

neema_t

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I was between games tonight and didn't feel like starting anything, so I went through my library and found a few (125) games I think might work well on the Deck that I want to (re)play, I haven't exactly given it a lot of thought so some things might not control well (like Kerbal Space Program) and I've largely avoided first person shooters and fast-paced games, although with a lot of exceptions, but they're all rated gold or higher on ProtonDB so as long as the performance is there they should all work. Figured I'd share the list in case anyone is interested to know what I think it'll be good at playing...

steamdeck.png

steamdeck1.png


There are probably loads more >=gold games in my library that would play well on it, but these are the ones I'm interested in trying. Shenmue and Skyrim are only there because I definitely won't play them any other way, being able to just stop when the tedium gets too much then resume instantly is probably key to the experience for me.

Also, the handheld format is perfect for a hot seat game like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, shame I don't really know of any more. I need to check and see if any of the Worms games I have have local hot seat multiplayer, come to think of it.
 
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neema_t

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I have to say, all the coverage from the Deck press day has done nothing to dampen my ridiculous hype for it. Yet, for all the people who got their hands on it, I haven't seen any mention of what the D-pad is like in detail. I guess it might be subject to change but it looked pretty sloppy to me - someone mentioned it rattling when they shook it, I'm guessing that was the D-pad flopping about.

Also no one weighed the ones being tested, pretty much everyone commented on the weight being good but we don't know if that weight was the same as listed in the spec sheet... Then again, even though those weren't production units, I can't imagine they'll change much since the electronics will be the same and the rest is mostly plastic.

In other words, I'm trying really hard to remain sceptical, but I'm also doing a really good job of talking myself into blindly buying one even if the initial impressions of the production unit are bad. I did the exact same thing with the Index controllers. But they were actually really good.

Oh boy.
 
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I have to say, all the coverage from the Deck press day has done nothing to dampen my ridiculous hype for it. Yet, for all the people who got their hands on it, I haven't seen any mention of what the D-pad is like in detail. I guess it might be subject to change but it looked pretty sloppy to me - someone mentioned it rattling when they shook it, I'm guessing that was the D-pad flopping about.

Also no one weighed the ones being tested, pretty much everyone commented on the weight being good but we don't know if that weight was the same as listed in the spec sheet... Then again, even though those weren't production units, I can't imagine they'll change much since the electronics will be the same and the rest is mostly plastic.

In other words, I'm trying really hard to remain sceptical, but I'm also doing a really good job of talking myself into blindly buying one even if the initial impressions of the production unit are bad. I did the exact same thing with the Index controllers. But they were actually really good.

Oh boy.
I thought Linus said something about the d-pad, don't have time to go back to his video right now though. As for the weight, I'm prepared to take what's on the spec sheet at this point - if they're lying on the spec sheet then there are bigger problems than just the weight of the thing!

I bit the bullet after watching Linus' video. At the end of the day, for right now it's cost me £4 to be on the preorder list, and I can cancel that at any time. The only caveat is that if you wait more than 30 days (I think) to cancel then that £4 can only be refunded to your Steam wallet - I can live with that.
 

neema_t

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I thought Linus said something about the d-pad,
He did, it was just something along the lines of "it feels good" but it looks super sloppy and, as NihongoGamer said in the video @andrea posted, if it doesn't have a pivot it's not going to be much good. I want to know how it compares to something else, I mean it won't be a dealbreaker for me but if it's anything like a 360 controller's I won't be emulating pre-PS2 consoles on it after all.
 

neema_t

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Dev kits have started shipping out.

I'm personally still pretty hyped for the Deck, but admittedly not as much as I was. This guy and this interview threw up some red flags for me, specifically:
Greg Coomer
It relies heavily on all the cloud technology that's built into the Steam backend; streaming from another PC is a thing this device can do, there are some scenarios where you'd want to do that, like you could avoid installing a game twice and save some battery if you're sitting in the same room as the PC that you're running on... Those scenarios, they work right now, but we're going to ship ways that make those scenarios easier and easier. Other things are like suspend and resume sessions where I'm sitting at a desktop PC playing a game and I want to seamlessly continue my game I was having on my Steam Deck, and there are actually multiple ways to do that - with a quick save to the cloud, or I could pick up where I left off by streaming from that device if I've got good bandwidth.
I have a feeling this is Valve pivoting expectations of "suspend and resume" away from being like a console, where you can put it into a low-power mode and pick up exactly where you left off easily, and towards being inter-operability with your PC, which won't do me any good because I don't intend to use it with my PC, rather instead of it. My Vita lets me press a button to stop playing instantly, then press the same button later, swipe and continue playing as if nothing happened. That functionality is key to playing certain games in certain scenarios, and since handheld PCs are all about enabling you to play PC games in scenarios where you couldn't use a laptop, that's quite important. I personally could live with the performance and compatibility falling short of what Valve has described so far, so long as there are some games I want to play on the list of games that it can play, but no suspend/resume in the same sense as seen on the Vita would probably change my mind.

Speaking of which, my newly repaired and jailbroken Vita has made me appreciate handheld gaming again, to an extent. I can only get Vita, PSP, PSX and a variety of older games via RetroArch on it, but not many things actually translate well to the hardware in my opinion. Even actual Vita games; Killzone: Mercenary is pretty bad but I think that's more because of the short sticks being very difficult to aim with. Similarly, many PSX games are borderline unplayable solely because you have to use the rear touchpad for L2/R2/L3/R3 (or you can remap them to the touchscreen, but that's arguably even worse for a lot of games since you have to use your thumbs to press them), then there are PSP games that were never designed to be played with two sticks so the controls are just weird. Compromises on all sides, basically, that the Deck won't have to make because it has enough buttons, so if I'm still enjoying the Vita then it follows that the Deck would be better because it'd be a more comfortable way to play. £460 better? Not sure. And what if it really doesn't have a suspend feature like the Vita's? I do think that'd be a problem. Being able to play GT2 in bed until I fall asleep without needing to be conscious enough to save the game before the Vita also falls asleep is pretty valuable to me.
 

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That's actually pretty cool that you can use it as a computer and plug it into an external display. And the price point is not that bad considering that.

Do we know if external controllers or keyboards can be used?

edit: The answer seems to be yes.

 
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neema_t

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There's an official Twitter account now: https://twitter.com/ondeck So far it's just showing off some more games running on dev kits, all valid hype fuel.

It'll be interesting to see if Valve can actually ship a product that doesn't feel like a beta without delays, from what I've seen Proton still has some rough edges and we still haven't seen the suspend/resume feature working on video yet. On top of the global supply chain issues, it would be a minor miracle if end users start receiving them in December and the software is (or at least feels) finished.