Nintendo? It might be time to start watching your back. Valve is ready to change things up with its upcoming handheld device, the Steam Deck. Featuring impressive technology and the oh-so-expansive library from Valve’s distribution platform, the Steam Deck has the potential to change handheld gaming forever. We’ve taken a look at all the details available right now for Valve’s handheld PC to pick out five of the most exciting features of the Steam Deck.
1. The Enormous Game Library
One of the biggest selling points for the Steam Deck is the library of games that will be available on it. According to Valve, the entire Steam library should be able to be played on the Steam Deck on release.
If you don’t already know, Steam is the primary way for PC players to enjoy their games. Before 2019, it was basically the only way to play titles that weren’t published by EA or Blizzard. There are over 50,000 games in Steam’s store, ranging from free-to-play titles like Smite to AAA bangers like the latest Call of Duty. There are also games that have been brought to the Steam store from older consoles, like Persona 4 Golden.
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Many of these PC games have never made the leap to console, let alone a handheld device. That alone is enough to hand over the $5 reservation fee for many gamers.
2. The Upcoming Dock
While the Steam Deck will be exclusively handheld when it first releases, a dock is due to come out afterward. The dock will allow people to use a mouse and keyboard for controls while displaying the game on a screen. That basically makes the Steam Deck a portable computer that you can exclusively game on.
While it’s not advertising itself as a console, The Steam Deck could eventually compete with PlayStation and Xbox because of this. Valve has had a bit of controversy lately when it comes to its revenue split with developers, but Steam remains an easier route for smaller developers to publish on.
This will make the Steam Deck a universal option for a lot of gamers. The majority of games — besides console exclusives — are currently published on Steam, so players will be able to make one purchase and use it on the go, hooked up to the TV, or even still at their PC through the regular Steam store.
3. The Built-to-Last Hardware
One thing that was a worry for some gamers is the hardware inside the Steam Deck — would it be able to play the majority of games that come out in the next few years? In short, the answer seems to be yes.
While some have their doubts over whether the Deck will be able to play every game, the specs seem to be saying yes. With 16 GB of RAM and what looks to be a pretty competent CPU and GPU, the Steam Deck should be able to run most games for years to come.
However, this doesn’t mean that every game will be able to run at max graphics settings, especially not when docked. For now, most expect most games to run pretty well on medium to high settings depending on the title.
4. The Size of the Screen
The Steam Deck’s screen is seven inches, diagonally — that’s slightly larger than the 6.6-inch screen on the regular Nintendo Switch.
This should come in handy in terms of accessibility. Games are often criticized because of the size of text; if too small, subtitles and menu options can be incredibly difficult to read in some video games. There’s not much that Steam can do about changing the size of the text inside games, but the bigger screen the Steam Deck has, the better. Hopefully, seven inches at a resolution of 1280×800 will be enough for most titles.
5. The Controllers
If you own a Nintendo Switch, then you know the never-ending struggle of the straight-backed controllers. Playing the Switch in handheld mode can be difficult because there’s no real way to grip the controller. This leaves many players — ourselves included — with sweaty hands and cramping fingers.
The Steam Deck appears to have fixed that problem by sticking handholds on either end that look like your standard controller. Plus, the button layout is supposed to feel natural, with both analog sticks sitting at the top-side of the controller to reduce cramping.
All-in-all, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the Steam Deck’s release. The first consoles will begin shipping in December 2021, but high demand means anyone pre-ordering now may need to wait until later next year.
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Brittany has been a gaming enthusiast since before she could walk, and she was even given doctor’s orders for video games to help improve hand-eye coordination. She loves any and all games, especially those with great stories or that she can enjoy with friends. Check out her Twitter for what she’s up to @brittany_iline