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The Steam Deck is a wonder, isn't it? Like a chonky PC that's been crammed into a handheld and designed by Salad Fingers. Plenty of people are saying that it will come for the Switch's crown, but there's something you should know.
Games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Apex Legends, Destiny 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Dead by Daylight and more won't work on the Steam Deck. Given the enormous communities of these titles, that's going to lead to a lot of grumpy faces from those who were interested in buying the bulky gadget. Well, it's better that they know now rather than after the cash has changed hands, because the Steam Deck does not come cheap. It is offered in three flavours - 64GB on an embedded multimedia card, 256GB and 512GB, both using a non-volatile memory express SSD. The smallest Steam Deck will cost you £349, whereas the middle one will set you back £459, and the heftiest hunk of storage will see you shelling out £569.
It's all well and good describing the Steam Deck to you, but let's see it in action, shall we?
It's making my eyes water at the merest thought of it. Or, perhaps that's the hayfever. However, the specs show that it is actually a PC that got hit with a shrink ray. With 16GB of RAM, an AMD eight thread Zen 2 CPU and an AMD RDNA 2 GPU with 8 compute units, this is how it's able to handle games like Controland No Man's Sky without breaking a sweat. As a result, it lasts for about two to four hours, according to those who got their mitts on it ahead of the masses. Not a patch on the OLED Switch model's battery life, and though they look alike, there's no point in comparing the Steam Deck with Nintendo's latest evolution of the Switch. Why? They're courting two very different consumers.
The reason behind Steam Deck's refusal to play some of the greatest multiplayer titles out there at the moment is due to its SteamOS. It's derived from Linux which isn't compatible with a fair few of the games available on Steam. Fortunately, there's Proton on hand to help, which is a tool developed by Valve to allow Windows games to run as smooth as silk on Linux systems.
Almost. "Proton is still in its infancy so support is inconsistent, but regularly improving," explains ProtonDB, which catalogues all of the Windows games that work well, moderately well, poorly, or not at all with Proton's assistance on Linux. Of course, there are at least 50,000 games on Steam, so ensuring that every single game is compatible is a Herculean task. But titles like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Apex Legends, Rainbow Six Siege... that works out to be a lot of people who will be frowning with their brand new souped up Steam Deck.
The issue lies in the anti-cheat software that these multiplayer games require from their players. On Linux systems, the games will start but the anti-cheat software won't on SteamOS, therefore locking the player out of the servers. All is not lost, though. Valve is "improving Proton's game compatibility and support for anti-cheat solutions by working directly with the vendors" and will see a new version of the SteamOS roll out ahead of the Steam Deck's launch in December.
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