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Playing ten different game genres on the Steam Deck: what works and what doesn’t

Racing good, shooting fine, 4X hard to read

It gets easier every day to find out which games will simply run on a Steam Deck; the list of Steam Verified-rated games is regularly extending, and SteamDB are keeping track of Playable and Unsupported games as well. Still, while these may be old favourites that you’ve already sunk hours into on a desktop, you might still be wondering how these games play when transplanted to the smaller screen and gamepad-ish controls of a handheld.

Liam was wondering it, anyway. Thus, he picked ten difference game genres from the most-played on Steam, asked me to play at least one game that would broadly represent each, and report back on which are the most (and least) suited to life on the Steam Deck.

You can listen to our full chat in the video above, while enjoying the predictable results of me trying to play Super Meat Boy for maybe the second time in 12 years. That said, even this most fast and fiddly of 2D platformers is no challenge for the Deck’s hardware, and the games I was previously sure would suffer without a mouse and keyboard – like Tropico 6 and Total War: Three Kingdoms – adapt rather well to thumbsticks and buttons. The right trackpad can often fill in effectively for mouse controls too, though beware that it sometimes feel more precise in some games than others.

The biggest recurring issue is the 7in, 1280x800 display leaving certain text looking like fine print, which can leave certain strategy-heavy games playing a bit… squinty? The Deck has its own OS-level zoom feature, which disappointingly is not called Hang On I’ll Need My Glasses Mode, but does help – just expect to use it a lot when playing the likes of Total War or Crusader Kings III.

For more on how the Steam Deck handles grand strategy and nine other styles – racing, shooters, open world, MMOs and so on – have a watch of Liam’s video. And if you’re more specifically curious about how long Valve’s mobile PC will last when running different games, head on over to our Steam Deck battery life guide. I’m taking requests for game tests from you, the cool and smart RPS readers, in the comments.

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About the Author
James Archer avatar

James Archer

Hardware Editor

James had previously hung around beneath the RPS treehouse as a freelancer, before being told to drop the pine cones and climb up to become hardware editor. He has over a decade’s experience in testing/writing about tech and games, something you can probably tell from his hairline.

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