Heya, 8bit here. After a 3-year break from posting any blogs, I decided to make a comeback and start typing up blogs again. Today’s topic will be my brand-new Steam Deck™ 256GB that I ordered on July 16, 2021. Not even having it for a full week and I believe it’s the best device ever made at the moment. I’ve been running emulators and indie games on it, and it’s been a blast playing. Triple-A games are indeed a hit or miss at times, but Ghostrunner and Control run really well on it.
Here’s a video of me unboxing my new Steam Deck. I had my younger brother record it for me so it might be a bit shaky and unprofessional, but it doesn’t matter since I was excited to open the box up and see what I got.
What’s included in the box is:
- Steam Deck
- Carrying Case
- Charging Cable
What are my first impressions of it? Honestly, when I first opened the box and held the Deck in my hands, it felt right. The sticks, touchpad, buttons, it all felt correct. Valve knew their shit. I thought the ABXY buttons would be in an odd place, but after playing a couple of games with it, it didn’t bother me at all. The back buttons: L4, L5, R4, and R5 are not bad, it’s well built and very nice and clicky, also I had no issues accidentally pressing them. The touchpads are nice and a great inclusion to the Deck. Using the touchpads as a mouse feels very nice and the haptic feedback is what makes them shine. Speaking of the haptic feedback, they’re not bad as people thought them out to be. I’m a huge rumble guy, but honestly, the haptics hit the sweet spot for what I’ll like to call rumble for my controller. My Xbox Series controller makes my hand feel numb after 10 seconds of vibration, so my Deck is an improvement.
When turning the Steam Deck on, I had to do a software update, and that’s where the unboxing video ended. I had to install some operating system software updates and then it asked me to update my BIOS after it told me I had one of the first Steam Decks off the factory floor. The BIOS update screen looked funny, so I decided to share it with you guys as well. The case is also really well made, I didn’t get the 512gb model, so I didn’t get that exclusive case, but the 64gb and 256gb model cases aren’t bad. It has a pouch where you can store probably the A/C adapter and more. The inside feels nice and secure with cutouts for the controller sticks, hopefully not giving you an issue with the stick being pushed in, giving it wear and tear and then stick drift. Overall, the case is a nice feeling. The speakers in the Steam Deck are fantastic, for a portable device, it sounds good. The fan is a bit loud and whiny, but I’m told the next update should fix the fan curves, so it shouldn’t be a problem shortly. The UX (user experience) is not bad either. Your library shows games that are “Great on Deck!” and the store also shows games that are great on deck as well. The Steam button gives you access to easily navigate the Steam OS while the quick access button (the one with 3 dots) gives you access to see your friends, notifications, and the ability to change the frequency of your GPU and CPU.
The Steam Deck is a powerful gaming handheld PC, so how are the games on it? They’re great! Valve made a system called Deck Verified and it’s honestly a hit or miss. Some games that are rated Verified on Deck run amazing on the Deck while some don’t. Games that are rated Unsupported on Deck work. I say if you are planning on downloading any games on the Deck that are unsupported, give it a try anyway. Although I’ll have to say that games with anti-cheats are a hit or miss. Easy Anti Cheat does work on Linux, but the developers have to flip a switch and make it work with their games. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is currently rated as Unsupported on Deck as of 5/10/2022 and downloading and running the game will still work, however, you will not be able to play the Multiplayer part of the game. The single-player part works and it works flawlessly, but not having multiplayer work is what gives its unsupported rating.
The games I’ve been playing on the Deck have consisted of Unsupported, Unknown, Playable, and Verified. Which are all the ratings on the device. How was it? It was enjoyable. Let’s first talk about Indie games, which were the majority of the games I’ve played on the Steam Deck. Bug Fables, A Hat in Time, Have a Nice Death, Hollow Knight, and more. Surprise, surprise, they all ran well. Gunfire Reborn multiplayer worked flawlessly, my friend and I partied up while I was on the Steam Deck, and he was on Windows. My Hollow Knight Windows save seamlessly showed up and vis-versa. Not a surprise since Steam Cloud Saving is a magical treat. However, if you are playing Hollow Knight on a Linux-based platform, do turn off the Proton combability layer on the Steam Deck, as some Steam Deck Verified games automatically have the switch turned on. The triple-A games I’ve played are Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Ghostrunner, Control, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. 3/4 of these games ran well. The one game that I had problems running was Horizon: Zero Dawn, a Verified on Deck game. Slowdowns, less than 30fps, and graphical issues were some of my main issues. Now, I was running the thing on Original graphics so I thought it’ll be fine, however it was not. Lowering down to Performance did solve some issues, but overall it was an interesting experience. Late-game is where I experience these slowdowns due to the number of huge enemies and their big explosion weapons were probably the cause of these slowdowns. Ghostrunner, Control, and BO3 were all amazing experiences that I had no issues running.
Fun fact, I was running both Ghostrunner and Control on the Heroic Launcher, a non-Steam launcher. This brings us to our next topic, non-Steam-based games. The Heroic Launcher is an open-source launcher that allows you to play Epic Games Launcher games and GOG games. I tried out 4 non-Steam games on the Heroic Launcher which were: Ghostrunner, Control, Bugsnax, and Slime Ranchers. 3/4 of these games ran. The one that didn’t was Bugsnax, however checking out ProtonDB, it doesn’t seem like it was the launcher’s fault. Now to talk about something Nintendo doesn’t want people doing, emulation! Emulating games on the Steam Deck is awesome! I haven’t had an issue with it yet. Nintendo Switch, NES, SNES, Gamecube, they all work! Playing Ace Attorney Investigations on the Deck is such a fun experience, although pulling out my 3DS would be a better alternative, either way, having the power of emulation with dozens of ROMs on my Deck just seems so cool.
You can install Windows?
Yes! However, I wouldn’t recommend it yet. Both Windows 10 and 11 are supported, but the drivers for them aren’t really good. The graphics drivers haven’t been updated for forever and audio drivers still aren’t available yet. Clicking the power button to sleep Windows is a hit or miss, sometimes your Deck recovers while sometimes you’ll have to hard reboot. I’ve been running Windows on a Micro SD card and while that impact reads and writes speed, it’s still an alright experience. I was able to load up PC Game Pass games and play them. Steam Input does have to be configured first before you’re able to play the PC Game Pass games, but once you get that all set up, the games just work. Although I did want to try out VALORANT, I couldn’t map any of my controller inputs to emulate a keyboard, probably due to VALORANT’s anti-cheat, Vanguard. That goes all my experimenting with Windows at that current time. I’ll probably go back to it another time when I’m feeling curious about more things.
The Steam Deck is a really neat device and if you’re a huge fan of tinkering and gaming, then I shall suggest you go get one once the supply is available. When I’m not lazy or something, I’ll probably make a full video review on it on my YouTube channel. However, knowing me and my projects, it’ll probably never happen. Still, I love this thing and I want to at least put more effort into my video reviews and scripted content. If I were to rate this thing, probably a 9/10 rating would suffice. It works and does its job well. Thanks for reading my nerd blog, see you on the next one.