5 Awesome Things That Make the Steam Deck Incredible
I’m among a select few lucky gamers right now, because I possess an actual, real-live Steam Deck. I got mine pretty early, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a few solid weeks with Valve’s amazing, miraculous handheld gaming PC. And I love it. So far, it’s not only met my expectations, it has exceeded them by far. And there are a bunch of reasons why. Let me go through just five of them, right now.
It’s Got a Huge Launch Game Library
It’s an accepted reality that new game consoles will have a fairly paltry launch game lineup. But the Steam Deck is different. It comes with a launch library of over 2,000 games. That includes the “Deck Verified” group and the “Playable” group of games. Deck Verified games are tested to work perfectly on the Deck without any extra effort on the gamer’s part. It’s a list that’s growing all the time. But as of this writing, it stands at over 1,200 (see this Reddit thread for the list). Playable games are totally fine to play, but you might need to use the Deck’s touchpad or the virtual keyboard. Which is quite easy. In fact, one “Playable” game, Civ V, plays better on my Steam Deck than on any laptop I’ve ever used. Compare the Steam Deck’s number of games at launch to say, the Switch’s 12 titles. Or the PS5’s quite respectable 28. There’s no comparison with the Steam Deck. And the Deck’s lineup is growing every day.
It’s Really Well Designed
I looked forward to using my Steam Deck to game on the go. But I fully expected it to be a bit awkward to actually play. My hands would hurt after a while. I’d have trouble fiddling with the settings, and the small screen. But that has not been the case at all. First of all, the ergonomics of the device are superb. You know that cramp you get in your hands from holding your Switch for more than an hour? That doesn’t happen with the Steam Deck. Its grips fit your hands, and the button placements are excellent. It’s like every physical design choice was very well thought-out, and done with care. The only buttons I do have a bit of trouble with are the L1 and R1 bumpers. But otherwise, the Steam Deck feels great to play, even for a long time. Here’s another good example: the charging port. It’s on the top. You’d expect it to be on the bottom, right? But being on the top is so much better for when you’re playing in bed. And that’s so awesome that Valve thought of that. Add to all of these the intuitive and user-friendly Steam OS, and the Steam Deck is a very easy device to use. It feels like it was made by gamers, for gamers, and I appreciate that.
You Can Seamlessly Integrate Xbox Cloud Gaming
And I don’t mean that you can just use a web browser to access it. That would just be ok, because you’d still have to connect a controller. Which you totally could do, but that’s not as good as what I mean. What I mean here is, you can add the Xbox Cloud Gaming website as a “game” into your Steam library, and use the Steam Deck’s controls as a controller! It’s like the games in Xbox Cloud Gaming are games in your Steam Deck library. And they’re as easily playable as any other titles you own. Provided you have Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, of course. Now, there is a bit of a process to get this set up on your Steam Deck. But if you have around 45 minutes, it is very worth it. I did it, and now in addition to my own game library, I can play Life is Strange: True Colors, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and any other Xbox Cloud game with the touch of a Steam Deck button.
It’s an Actual, Real PC As Well as a Console
The Steam Deck has something other consoles can’t match. And that’s the fact that it is a real PC computer. And using it is as easy as switching to “Desktop Mode” with the push of a button. Voila. Your Steam Deck now has a desktop, just like any PC. And you can do all the things. Now honestly, I haven’t explored this side of the Steam Deck much yet. But it is there as an option, and that’s amazing. Attach a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and you could, in theory, use the Steam Deck for work. How that would look depends on where you work. You’d either be perceived as a bit odd by coworkers or as the absolute coolest Assistant Marketing Manager at the firm. Either way, you have a freakin’ Steam Deck! Who cares what those people think, am I right?
Valve Provides Great Support to the Steam Deck
I’ve been really impressed with the care and support Valve has provided for the Steam Deck and its users. Not only did the console arrive with a really nice carrying case, it’s received almost daily updates since I got it. All those issues and annoyances you’ve heard about — the fan noise, the bugs, and so on — get constantly addressed and improved. One recent update, for example, reduced my fan’s noise noticeably. There are also performance improvements that continue to optimize the battery life. Speaking of which, another great design choice Valve made is to let you control a lot of the console’s settings — I reduce my framerate on many games to 30 FPS. This greatly increases the Steam Deck’s battery life while causing no noticeable downgrade in visuals and movement.
I know I don’t need to sell many of you on the Steam Deck. With a backlog on already-placed orders sitting around 5-6 months, there are many who are reading articles like this who are in agony right now. You’re hearing all this great stuff about the Steam Deck, and you can’t do anything about it. Except wait. And wait. And check your email for the thousandth time. I feel your pain. But for those of you who are still wondering, yes the Steam Deck is every bit as awesome as you hope.