Redfall Steam Deck performance report: a heavy drinker
It mostly works, but framerate drops and always-online nonsense drain the fun
Beleaguered vampire huntin' FPS Redfall has at least one seal of approval, even if our reviewer Ed was left cold. Shortly before release, Valve bestowed it with Verified status for the Steam Deck, a coveted green tick that represents more or less complete compatibility and suitability for the portable PC.
I wouldn’t normally curl an eyebrow at this sort of thing – having more great Steam Deck games is good for PC gaming – but given how all-over-the-shop Redfall’s performance is on desktop PCs, could it really settle in on the less powerful Deck? A few ambulatory vamp slaying jaunts later, I can conclude that it... maaaaaybe can. Sort of.
Firing up Redfall on the Steam Deck is painless, with no incompatible anti-cheat or hateful launchers causing headaches. Nothing is too small or hard to read on the Deck’s 1280x800 screen, and I never bumped into any sound or video playback failures. The 77GB installation size will be too much for the entry-level Steam Deck’s 64GB internal drive to handle, but that’s easily fixed with the addition of a microSD card.
Like its folklore creeps of choice, Redfall has quite the appetite, running down a full battery to 0% in 1h 24m. That’s very, very slightly below average for a game of this scope, though you’ll have a bigger problem if you intend to take your vamp hunt out on the road: an always-online requirement that, nonsensically, is in effect even when choosing to play solo.
This might not be the case forever. Game director Harvey Smith said back in March that Arkane Austin were "looking into and working actively toward fixing [the online requirement] in the future." Evidently not in time for launch, though, so even if you start a solo session while connected to the internet, within a few moments of losing signal you’ll be booted back to the title screen with an "Arknet connection lost" error blocking the path back. Always-online is an inconvenience on desktop PCs, which will usually be hooked up to Ethernet or Wi-Fi unless there’s an outage, but on a portable device it’s potentially ruinous.
Performance, meanwhile, is largely a repeat of Redfall’s Windows showings: not unplayable, like last week’s Star Wars Jedi: Survivor proved to be, but profoundly uneven. On Low settings with FSR 2.1 upscaling (which looks decently sharp on the Performance setting upwards), the Steam Deck can produce a comfy 30-40fps, even jumping up to 50fps in some parts of the overworld and the tighter, linear vampire nests you can explore. In other areas, sadly, it can plummet to the jittery 25-30fps range, with shorter stutters that fall even lower.
Personally, these temporary sub-30fps dips aren’t an instant dealbreaker when the majority of Redfall can perform viably. But the sense of sluggishness is offputting, especially if (like me) you’ve silently snuck your way through the past four Arkane games and were hoping to play fast, loose, and hyper-stakey in this one.
Redfall: the best settings for the Steam Deck
Truth be told, there’s no combination of graphical options that will level out Redfall’s framerare inconsistencies. But you can cushion the fall by sticking to a mix of Low and Medium quality settings, aided further by FSR upscaling.
On desktop hardware, Redfall’s settings themselves are weird and wonky enough that you can get a massive average frames-per-second upgrade just by lowering a select few. On the Steam Deck, you’ll need to take a more comprehensive approach, but it’s worth it to get a few Medium quality bonuses that don’t take performance any lower than if you were employing the full Low preset. Here’s what I suggest:
- Motion Blur Scale: Off
- Anti-Aliasing: Doesn’t matter, it’s replaced by FSR 2.1 anyway
- Effects Quality: Low
- Foliage Quality: Low
- Post Processing Quality: Medium
- Shading Quality: Low
- Shadow Quality: Medium
- Texture Quality: Medium
- View Distance Quality: Low
- Upscaling: FSR 2.1 (Performance mode, sharpening on 0)
I’ve gone for Medium post processing, shadows, and textures, as these make Redfall look a smidge more handsome without hurting performance. And although there’s an ostensibly faster Ultra Performance mode for FSR 2.1, I found this doesn’t actually speed things up much at all, while simultaneously taking a hammer to the brittle knees of visual quality. Performance mode is a much better balance of speed and looks.
Lastly, a quick tip for those who find that the thumstick controls feel a bit off. I too felt like aiming with the right stick was rather unwieldy, but this can be fixed by entering the Controller menu, setting Input Response Preset to Low, then adjusting the Controller Sensitivity value to your preference. This made crosshair movement feel far more consistent and manageable.