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I know the Steam Deck is fantastic because it allowed me to do something I never would have had time for otherwise: I beat Elden Ring. After 155 hours – 150 of which are on the Steam Deck – I have become the Elden Lord. And I mean it when I say that Valve’s handheld computer has allowed me to play one of the best games in years.
As much as I love games, I don’t like anchoring myself to a couch or computer chair. Even in my house, I like to move around so I can stay involved in what’s going on. Usually that means being around my kids or sitting with my wife while she’s watching a show. This is why the Switch is so great for me. But the Switch is limited in both support and power when it comes to its library. Steam Deck is an improvement in both respects.
I’ve covered a lot of this in my review and previous coverage of the Steam Deck. But I feel more confident now that the system is succeeding in what Valve set out to achieve with it. The device allows PC gaming to persist in the nooks and crannies of your life, rather than forcing you to make your life fit for PC gaming. And it does that through its powerful yet efficient hardware, but it also does it through smart user experience features.
Always ready, wherever and whenever you are
The powerful AMD system-on-a-chip and the powerful Proton translation layer are important reasons why the Steam Deck is so successful. But Valve has also done the little things right.
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Those little things include a smart sleep mode that lets you stop playing on a whim. When you’re ready to continue, the system will pick up where you left off. And all the while, this sleep function barely uses a battery.
What this means in practice is that it only took me a matter of seconds to get back into Elden Ring once I put it down. And that may not sound very important, but it definitely helped me maintain my momentum with such a huge and challenging game.
Valve can get away with this, because while the Steam Deck is a computer, it is primarily a portable gaming device. So while you can alt-tab to other applications, centering the active game over everything else is paramount.
Small annoyances worth solving
My problems using the Steam Deck so far have been minor and rarely hinder my enjoyment. Elden Ring, in particular, is very power hungry. It’s funny how the power meter built into the system regularly reads more than 25 watts during gameplay – especially when you can play something like the GameCube emulator which only uses 6 watts. And that with the brightness and volume up.
But battery life is far from the concern that many make. What is a problem is the charging of the device. Since I carry it around my house, I often try to get some quick juice from a nearby USB-C charger. But most chargers for smartphones and even laptops do not provide enough power to meet the needs of the Steam Deck.
Now if you use the official charger and a handful of others (like a recent Qualcomm Quick Charge 5.0 brick), you can get a full battery in about 1.5 hours. That’s true even if you keep playing the system. But my Steam Deck kept draining while playing even when I plugged it into certain other chargers.
The Steam Deck also has an awkward shape, making it difficult to set up. The large size means you’ll need a significant amount of counter space when you run to the kitchen to make popcorn for the kids. But even if you have the space, make sure it’s secure. I had a close call where I put it down only to have to catch it in mid-air a second later when one of the grips slipped over the edge.
Still my favorite gaming PC ever
I meant it when I said in my review that the Steam Deck is my favorite gaming PC ever. It’s not how you should do your taxes, but it’s the ideal way to play games. But Elden Ring gave a real test of that claim. But 150 hours later I have no plans to change my habits. This is how I’m going to play my games whenever I can.
I’ve already started Tunic. It runs and looks great on the deck. Maybe next time I’ll get Stranger of Paradise. To me, this feels like gaming making an effort to make sure I don’t get left behind. I can’t tell you how nice that feels.
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This post I played 150 hours of Elden Ring on Steam Deck and loved it was original published at “https://venturebeat.com/2022/03/28/i-played-150-hours-of-elden-ring-on-steam-deck-and-loved-it/”