Image: Valve

Valve’s Steam Deck officially launched today, opening the floodgates to the many lucky reviewers out there who have been itching to tell us whether the heavily hyped handheld, which nobody has been able to shut up about, is truly worth the $399–$649 price tag that’s attached to it.

The simple and overwhelming answer to that seems to be a simple “yes.” As echoed in the review roundup below, many early users have agreed that Valve has managed to hit many of the Steam Deck’s promised bullet points, which include the ability to jump right into an incredible library of games on day one with generally admirable performance depending on settings and tweaks such as FPS caps. Users have also pointed out the Steam Deck’s impressive display, surprisingly decent speakers, and the temperature of the handheld–apparently, it’s unlikely that users will ever feel the system getting too hot.

That said, it’s crazy to think that the Steam Deck is a perfect device, as it clearly isn’t based on various criticisms that range from the handheld’s relatively short battery life to bulky size. Still, there doesn’t seem to anything else like it on the market for gaming on the can, especially considering its starting price and ability to double as an amazing emulation machine for classic games.

Steam Deck Review Roundup:

The Steam Deck is my new favorite console (Polygon)

  • Out of the box, the Steam Deck connects to Steam and its thousands of games, including any you may have purchased over the past decade and a half in your Steam library. […] Those willing to tinker can also install the Windows operating system, granting themselves access to other storefronts like itch.io, subscription services like Game Pass, and the unpaved roads of open-source emulation.
  • The result is the best launch lineup in the history of game consoles. I understand how hyperbolic that sounds, but I can’t overstate the scope of video games immediately available on Steam Deck on day one. Classic point-and-click adventure games for the Gen X set! A forgotten mid-2000s indie gem! Elden Ring!
  • […] for people who already have a Steam library, or are eager to dip their toes into the waters of PC gaming, the Steam Deck already feels like a legitimate alternative. It builds on the Switch’s pitch of playing anywhere and everywhere, because now my games and save files aren’t tied to a console. They live in the cloud, following me wherever I can access Steam — from my Steam Deck, to my gaming PC, to my work laptop, and wherever else I might want them in the future.

STEAM DECK REVIEW (PC Gamer)

  • GTA 5 could actually run at 60 fps with high settings and squeeze out two hours of battery life, but dropping to a 30 fps lock nearly doubled the battery estimate to 214 minutes.
  • The superb Resident Evil 2 Remake is a notable exception: With a mix of low and mid settings I was able to run it at 60 fps, which was a genuine ‘wow, this really works?’ moment for such a relatively new and gorgeous game. There was a drawback though: I had to play at max brightness in the afternoon and crank up the in-game brightness setting to clearly see the screen in my brightly lit living room, so the game looked a tad washed out and the battery dropped from full to 44% in an hour.
  • The fan noise is my least favorite thing about the Steam Deck, which is something to keep in mind if you’re planning to play it next to someone who hates high-pitched whirring. But if we’re comparing against a gaming PC, the fan is probably less obnoxious than the mechanical keyboard I’m currently hammering away on. And if we’re comparing against a console, well, I’ve heard PlayStations that sounded like leaf blowers; the Deck is more like one of those handheld fans you take to a summer baseball game.

Steam Deck Review – Redefinition (GameSpot)

  • Flanking the display are two thumbsticks and two touchpads, with the former being one of the Steam Deck’s strongest pieces of hardware. These thumbsticks feel remarkable, with a satisfying amount of resistance and a great size (both in width and stem length) for comfort and accuracy.
  • The two touchpads beneath the sticks are less impressive but no less useful, letting you play games that require mouse input relatively easily (or play them without the thumbsticks entirely if you like). Their tactile vibration as you move your finger across them adds accuracy to your input, with software configuration letting you alter this response to help you better feel the ends of each pad with the force of the haptics rather than just feeling your finger slide off entirely.
  • Both the D-pad and the four face buttons are pushed out to the edges of the Steam Deck, which can look odd on first inspection. Both clusters of buttons are delightfully responsive in practice, with a good feel to each press.
  • Rounding out the inputs are the digital shoulder buttons and analog triggers, each of which features a satisfying little rumble at the end of each press. Four programmable grip buttons also sit inside an area where your index, middle, and ring fingers will naturally rest, making them easily accessible (more or less, depending on your hand size) and a nice feature for use in all your games.

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