Steam Deck - First Impressions

Recently I got the notification that my Steam Deck was ready and has shipped and for the past three days or so I have been testing it out and using it so I though I would write a post about my first impressions and maybe writing another post later going into more detail once I feel I have used it long enough for my opinions to form completely and for any problems to come out if there are any. So let me begin.
Steam Deck in case

The first thing I want to talk about is the look and feel of the device, probably the most important thing to nail for a hand held device. And to my surprises for the form factor it feels great! It looks like it would be clunky to hold being so much bigger than something like the Nintendo Switch, but at least for my hands it fits great and all of the controls also have good feedback without also being annoying or noisy. However at least for me the back paddles I personally have a hard time clicking them, not because they are difficult to click I think its just because of not expecting them but I assume if a game I find in the future uses them I will get better as well.

Another thing that is annoying that I can see other people also potentially mentioning is the weight, the deck is way more hefty then you think. Which I would expect for all the hardware Valve managed to cram in that tinny little case. So if you find yourself holding the deck I would recommend finding something to rest your hands on before they start to get tired from holding all that weight out. Plus speaking of heft the carry case is a great addition, it has hard casings on each side to protect your deck and the joysticks that protrude from it for when your back pack gets stuffed. In addition a nice little strap on the back with an indent from the decks form factor to give you extra room to put the included charger (USB C thanks Valve!).

So now onto the software, SteamOS is really interesting and the Desktop Mode on the deck allows you to move from the locked down controller navigation game menu into a full fledge KDE desktop to do whatever you want with it (which you can access in the power menu). From my short time using it I do quite like it, the control scheme just made sense and there was little learning to do. Its quick and easy to see all of your games and also check which ones are compatible with the deck in the Great on Deck section. From my experience so far and my game collection all of the games that are rated great on deck have worked flawlessly.

I used my deck to finish a game of both Stray and Detroit: Become Human. I also tested Cuphead and Hollow Knight playing some bosses and all of them worked great. Detroit: Become Human had some stuttering and during its initial shader rendering it maxed out the CPU and drained the battery a lot so that was inconvenient. That was a trend that was pretty annoying, if the game was very visually intensive the battery on the deck did not have a very good time with only around a 1-2 hour battery life in game which is still awesome though not as much as some other consoles but anyway let me continue. So because you can, I installed Warframe. But that's not all, that game said that it had some issues with the deck so I wanted to test it out. From what I can see it does work perfectly normally except for one funny little issue where it prompted for my password after I logged in but after a mission or two I could not find any issues so it looks like it will play fine even not being rated as compatible. Fortunately the checkmark has more property's to tell you exactly why its not supported so you know if its just an input issue of if the game actually does not run correctly on the deck.

Unfortunately for me, a bunch of games I do play are unrated so I want to start testing those over time to see what ones are compatible. Fortunately again though the input ability of the deck is great so even mouse only games are usable via touch screen and if that does not work you always have the option of the two mouse pads on the left and right.

Now onto the little pop out menu, again amazing options and customizability especially with the battery section and performance monitor. You can also adjust performance in each game to optimize the decks hardware per game, all of which you can get from the community or make them yourself. You also will have access to your steam friends list to both chat and voice controls. Cool!

So let me put it all together in a TL;DR. The Steam Deck both looks and feels great with amazing input selection from touch to gyro support. The case helps make transportation easy, protects the deck with its harder shell and has a nice little spot for the included charger. Steam OS is easy to navigate and easy to learn if you have never used an interface like this before with the control scheme. The battery does drain very quickly for certain games so prepare for that, probably can be fixed with the special performance profiles though. The verified game section works pretty well and so far from my testing all of the verified games work flawlessly and even show the deck controls, however for ones that are rated but not supported you get a pretty clear showing of exactly why its not supported so you kind of know what your getting yourself into before it play. Just expect lots of games to be unverified, but that will obviously get fixed overtime.

I am very excited to see how much effort Valve put into this console and how far it has come, both the hardware and software is great and the open nature of the console is greatly appreciated especially now a days. From first impressions I can definitely recommend this console to anyone who already has lots of Steam games and is looking for a handheld experience (even if the deck can do more!). The deck starts at $400 and goes up to $600 for the max tier but you can also buy the $400 model and upgrade it manually to the $600 one if you so choose.

Thank you for reading and I am looking forward to making more updates in the future!


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