The Steam Deck redefines your relationship with your PC library

There is a game in my Steam library called Ryse: Son of Rome and I’m not sure how it got there. It’s been lurking for years, building a nest in the garbage heap of discarded indie games. I never played it. I don’t think I bought it. Not on purpose. It probably hitchhiked with a charity package, but I like to think it crept in on its own. I mention this because I recently saw a forum post from someone who one day grabbed his Steam deck and played Ryse from start to finish, completely uninvited. They’d been having fun but sounding confused, like they’d woken up after a night of drinking and were trying to make questionable decisions. I couldn’t understand it either. Our little lives are rounded off with sleep, and there are certainly too few precious hours for a mediocre 2013 hack-n-slash. But after having my own Steam Deck for over a week now, I think I get it.

The Steam Deck is Valve’s latest – and most competent – foray into PC hardware. It’s a big, burly Switch-look handheld that promises PC gaming on the go. It delivers in spades. Since it shipped earlier this year, people have been putting it through its paces, feeding it cyberpunks and flight simulators, and watching the custom AMD processor work its magic.

And it really is magical. While the software has a few quirks, it feels like a childhood daydream come true as you put the Steam Deck in your lap and boot up Elden Ring. However, what surprised me the most is that raw horsepower is only part of the magic. The Steam Deck has redefined my relationship with my Steam library. let me tell you

A screenshot from the ancient Rome game Ryse. A legionnaire looks into the distance, behind him a city, probably Rome.

If you find yourself riding the green fields alone with the sun on your face, don’t worry because Ryse is now playable outdoors.

Obviously there is the portability. Like the Switch before it, the Steam Deck cuts some of the ties that bind you to your chair. Suddenly you can play PC-bound games in bed or on the sofa. You can play Vampire Survivors at the breakfast table or Phantom Pain in the loo. If you want, you can even venture out in front of the house. It’s liberating. And while the deck is 50 percent heavier than Nintendo’s Switch, it doesn’t feel like it. Through some ergonomic magic, it appears to float as you lift it from room to room.

But that’s not all I think. I’ve found playing on the deck is more focused than at a desk.

If you’re like me, you play a lot on the PC. After a long day at work or school, squeeze into the chair and start whatever you have on the go. But sometimes you sit down and realize two hours later that you’ve done nothing but scroll reddit. Or, worse, you open a game but feel the gravitational pull of Twitter tugging at your forebrain. Instead of fully engaging, you fight the impulse to check your notifications or the news or Eurogamer. For games that grab your full attention – soulslikes, roguelikes and the like – that’s not a big problem. But for less intense genres like, oh, let’s say walking simulators, it’s an abomination.

Okay, buying a new console just so you can’t alt-tab into Twitter might be overkill. But the difference is profound. It revives the childhood feeling of just sitting and playing. The almost nirvana state where worldly worries disappear and you are fixated on the moment.

Mads Mikkelsen's likeness doing the shh gesture at the camera in Death Stranding. What a handsome man he is.

Death Stranding lends itself unexpectedly well to handheld gaming.

Additionally, some games simply apply differently on handheld. Take Death Stranding. It’s a strong flavor: cool, rainy vibes, rugged mountain vistas interspersed with viscerally off-kilter sci-fi body horror. I didn’t love it on desktop, but it’s oddly well suited to handheld play. I’m not talking about the mossy Icelandic landscapes. They earn as many pixels as you can throw at them. I mean the gameplay itself. The small mountain hikes are short and self-contained. They are perfect for a quick gaming session. And when you’re fed up with Kojima nonsense—too many close-ups of Norman Reedus’ nostrils or something—the “system suspend” button is mercifully within reach.

There are a few other standouts. Once you escape the 2K game launcher, Civ 6 is great for on the go and unlike the Switch version, doesn’t freeze for minutes between rounds. Puzzler’s like Patrick’s Parabox are fabulous in short bursts. Hitman’s sandboxes are great for playing around with the TV on in the background. And Forza 5’s short street races work great on the bus.

The broader picture of playing Red Dead Redemption 2 on a Steam Deck while on the back of a horse statue. you love to see it

The Steam Deck redefines PC gaming. You can now play Red Dead Redemption on a horse.

Forza 4 would be great too, although it uses the same game engine it’s currently not supported. But I think the ultimate thrill of the Steam Deck is figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

Currently, over half of the games in the Steam catalog are untested. They might or might not run on Steam’s Proton compatibility layer, and no one has had time to officially verify this yet. This brings with it a surprise effect. Alongside the new UI, it sheds a light on the dustier corners of your Steam library. You go on a treasure hunt, swim past the crumbling behemoths of long-forgotten games, lift them to the surface and see if you can make them work. And often they come to life. I dredged Marvel vs Capcom 3 – works beautifully, is still a classic. I’ve finally launched Supergiant’s Pyre – as lush and colorful on the deck’s small screen as it is on the desktop. If I can find time, I’ll be playing Trials of Cold Steel, a port of a niche PS3 JRPG that’s running flawlessly against the odds.

Of course there is friction. Valve has created a machine capable of playing almost two decades of games designed for multiple platforms and multiple input methods. Some directly don’t work. The fiddly touchpads are no substitute for a proper mouse, and glitches and crashes and games with tiny, tiny text are rife. Also, the fan howls like a jet engine. But despite all of these flaws, the Steam Deck has redefined my relationship with PC gaming. Assuming you can get your hands on one – waitlists are months long and they still aren’t available outside of Europe and North America – you’ll see your PC library in a new light. Even if you have a decent desktop, that alone could be worth the price of admission. Just don’t be surprised when you play Ryse: Son of Rome. The Steam Deck redefines your relationship with your PC library

Curtis Crabtree

Curtis Crabtree is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Curtis Crabtree joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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