I’ve received my Steam Deck a few months ago and I’ve been loving the experience so far! Why!? The variety of games it can play, the smooth controls, the amazing visuals, etc. Since the Steam Deck arrived I have been neglecting my Nintendo Switch. Two handhelds, with some noticeable similarities. That got me thinking. Is the Steam Deck just a replacement for the Nintendo Switch? Or is it something else completely? Let’s find an answer to that question while telling you everything about the Steam Deck!
Lazy, responsible adult meet the Steam Deck!
Picture me (Nicky). A full-time hard-working adult that doesn’t have much time to play video games. At least not as much as I used to. Because when I was younger I would stay up all night just to play PC games behind my desk and wake up in the morning after little to no sleep. Ready to go to college.. (not really though). As a responsible adult (hah!) I don’t get to do that anymore. Because now I really, really need my sleep. So staying up late behind my desk is not an option!
About a few years ago I have evolved a new habit just to get into my ‘sleepy mode’. Which is laying in bed and reading random social sites (Facebook, Instagram) or Reddit. Occasionally I would play a mobile game. This is just me trying to be my gaming, younger self again. But guess what? I would fall asleep halfway through a game. Why? Well hello, Nicky you just said that you need more sleep! But that’s not it. The real issue here is, that in my humble opinion, most mobile games aren’t as interesting as the PC titles I used to play. Well, how about the Switch? At some point in time, I have taken my Switch to bed as well. I would play Animal Crossing or Pokémon. But eventually, I got bored of these games also. And I am not the only one!
Best of both worlds?
In short, the Steam Deck combines the best of both worlds. I get to go lay in bed and continue with my favorite PC game(s). So far I logged quite a few hours playing Valheim and Corekeeper. And when I do have more time, I can continue on my PC. For example to finish my more elaborate builds in Valheim. This is one of the reasons why I like the Steam Deck (better than the Switch). Because it gives me the ability to continue my favorite PC games in a comfy, lazy position.
The Steam store and why it’s great
To play games on the Steam Deck you need a Steam account. Steam is a very popular PC gaming platform with millions of users. The thing that Valve (the company behind Steam) does great is the following. Not only do they have 3rd party sellers sell their A-list games in the Steam Store, but they basically let everyone sell their games on Steam. As a result, there is a thriving community of indie game makers on the platform that creates awesome games. These games are sometimes even more enjoyable or popular than the games of established game companies. Stardew Valley and Valheim (yeah I know I really love this game) are excellent examples of widely popular indie games.
This is my second main reason why the Steam Deck is such a good device most of these games run perfectly on the handheld. Even the (Indie) games that are not verified by Valve yet. A lot of the bigger mainstream games, for instance, the Witcher and Skyrim, are already verified though. So don’t worry, they run even better. It is actually quite impressive that Valve is able to run these games on a handheld. Specifically, because the handheld runs on Linux instead of Windows.
A lesson to learn for Nintendo?
Let’s dig deeper into the Linux thing. Because Valve had to create its own version of Linux (called Proton) just to achieve what it achieved. There is a ‘desktop’ mode on the Steam Deck as well, so you can even run certain Linux programs on it. And here we have another bonus, Valve doesn’t claim Steam Deck exclusively! It actually allows you to install 3rd party software and games as well. This is something Nintendo would never.. ever.. do. As a result, you are able to install a Linux version of the Epic store, and play Epic games as well! Or have a DosBox simulator installed and play old Dos games (go retro games!). The possibilities are endless and people have been experimenting with them already.
Steam Deck vs PC: the specs
So basically the Steam Deck is a handheld trying to be a small Linux PC. It has the specs of a gaming laptop, with 16GB RAM and an AMD Custom Zen 2 / RDNA2 APU. This translates to the power of an Nvidia GTX 1050 or GTX 950). But it is priced at a way better price point than current gaming laptops, let alone gaming pc’s. The heavy processing power needed to play games like The Witcher means Valve needed to include a way to cool the device. And this might be the only downside to the Steam Deck: it is loud, very loud! But that’s a small price to pay to be able to play virtually anything. For example, my current PC won’t run Path of Exile anymore (for some obscure reason), but on my Steam Deck, it’s no problem at all!
Because the controls of the Steam Deck look like those of a controller, you might think that the handheld is more focused on console gaming than PC gaming. But that isn’t really true. It just means that sometimes, you need to adjust the way you play or even think about a game. And some games that got released on Steam for PC work even better on a Steam Deck. Instead of setting keybindings for Path of Exile, for instance, you can just trust the go-to controller setting on Steam Deck to make sure you are well-equipped for the game. Even a weird little game like Baba is You is totally playable on the handheld.
Steam Deck vs Switch: let’s take a closer look
The Steam Deck is larger than the Nintendo Switch, but not by a huge amount. It is a lot heavier though. This means holding it in the bed above your head can be kinda dangerous. It has more buttons than the Switch and even two trackpads (one on both sides). These can be used to move around the mouse pointer for games that need that. The controls are placed in such a way that controlling the device feels very natural. To ‘guide’ new players, to use the various controls, Steam created a little game called Aperture Desk Job. This game is not only a very fun way to get to know all the fancy stuff the Steam Deck has to offer (yes, it has gyro options as well). But is also an actual fun game to play. So far I’ve played it till the end twice!
Hello money saver!
Another main reason why the Steam Deck is great (and better than the Switch): you don’t have to spend a ton of money! I all ready own plenty of games on Steam, and most of those are either Steam Deck verified or Steam Deck playable. With the Switch, you either need to buy the physical game cartridge or download the game (on an SD card, since the Switch Storage isn’t that large). With the Steam Deck, you probably own a lot of your favorite games already and you can just download it to your new toy.
So depending on which Steam Deck you buy, you might want to invest in an extra SD card anyway, especially if you want to play Ark Survival (which took 230 Gig. Seriously, why do you have to create a game that big). No need to spend a lot of money on Steam either, since Steam is big on releasing Indie Games. Most of which are pretty fun for a fraction of the larger titles.
Games: Personal favorites
Favorite games are of course very personal, and to me, basically, change every few weeks (or even days) also depending on mood. Currently, my most played games are Path of Exile, Outer Worlds, Rimworld, Valheim, and Fable. Fable and Path of Exile top the list based on how well it plays on the Steam Deck. I used to play Fable on Xbox when I was younger, so I was used to playing it with a controller and it has been really fun to jump back into Albion and be a hero again.
Recap: So why do I think the Steam Deck is awesome?
To sum up, here are the reasons why I think the Steam Deck is a must-have!
- the ability to continue your PC game(s) in a comfy, lazy position;
- access to most games in the Steam Store (and more to come);
- availability to a lot of awesome indie games;
- the controls feel really, really natural;
- and sometimes it runs games even better than my pc!
How about you?
Now that you have read my humble opinion, let’s know what you think about the Steam Deck and which games you would like to play on it!
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