Over the course of my Steam Deck review testing, the majority of games I tried ran without issue. Some didn’t get on with SteamOS’s Proton compatibility software, and others needed a bit more work on the ol’ anti-cheat, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most Steam games end up rated as Verified or Playable in Valve’s compatibility review programme.
What, then, are some of the very best games to play on the Steam Deck? Personally I’ve most enjoyed the ones designed with thumbstick controls in mind (like Horizon Zero Dawn and Death’s Door) but since I was interviewing Gabe Newell and members of the Deck dev team in the run-up to the Steam Deck's launch today, I took the chance to ask them if they had any suggestions. Here's what they've been playing.
“Yeah, I've also finally been playing God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn, which I never got to,” added designer Jake Rodkin. “I also didn't think that I would be a big trackpad fan, but I've been going back to 90s point and click adventure games. I was playing Sam & Max Hit the Road and The Dig recently, so, yeah. Living giant pixel life with the trackpad.”
Griffais then pounced on the chance to plug another of the Steam Deck’s screen filtering options, alongside its system-wide AMD FidelityFX (FSR) capability:
“In the in the same vein as adding FSR, we're adding things like in integer scaling to the Deck as well, so when you’re playing these retro games at low resolutions you can keep the original art without having filtering on there.”
Gabe Newell, meanwhile, has been hitting the MMOs:
“I'm playing Final Fantasy XIV! I played a tonne of World of Warcraft for a really long time, I sort of played it until my brain broke. I don't know if you've had that experience with video games where you're just like, no, I can't do this anymore.
“One of my sons was playing a bunch of Final Fantasy and he wanted me to play. He wanted to be mad about stuff, like he’d be pentamelding some piece of gear, and it would break 10 times in a row and he’d come in and try to complain me about it. And I'd like ‘I have no idea what you're talking about.’ And that's a pretty good game, it has great controller support and so on, so that’s what I've been playing.”
So there you have it, the Steam Deck can maintain the sharpness of pixel art and enable some slightly confused family bonding, and I’ll admit I only covered one of those in my review. Note that World of Warcraft isn’t on Steam and thus isn’t directly available on the Deck’s SteamOS, but it’s fairly easy to install and/or dual-boot Windows and get the Battle.net launcher that way.
If you’re still not sure which of your own games will perform on Valve’s handheld, you can always use the official compatibility checker to see which games in your Steam library have been tested and awarded Verified, Playable or Unsupported status. We’re also maintaining our own list of every single game in these categories.
Here be the full Gabe Newell interview if you want more Gabe chat about the Steam Deck, as well as his views on NFTs and the consolidation of the games industry; expect the complete, altogether more techy chat with Griffais and Rodkin early next week.