Can I play Starfield on Steam Deck?

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

[Updated August 29: Added information on a recent Valve Steam Deck update to fix a GPU issue with a game that could well be Starfield]

Can I play Starfield on Steam Deck?

We expect that Starfield will run on Steam Deck, but we're not hopeful for a quality experience based on how the system performs with other games that have similar minimum requirements and recommended specs. But up to this point, there's no official word either way. 

Starfield might be playable, but we have doubts

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(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Starfield is undoubtedly the biggest and most ambitious upcoming game in 2023, and unsurprisingly, Steam Deck owners are curious if they'll be able to explore the stars on the go or from the couch with their handheld gaming PC. Unfortunately, now that we have the Starfield PC specs and system requirements, we're not feeling very hopeful about how well it'll run.

Bethesda's sci-fi RPG requiring at least an AMD Ryzen 5 2600X / Intel Core i7-6800K CPU, and an AMD Radeon RX 5700 / NVIDIA GeForce 1070 Ti GPU is pretty reasonable if you're putting together a gaming PC for Starfield, but it doesn't bode well for Steam Deck users. The system has struggled quite a bit to maintain a stable 30 FPS in games with similar requirements like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, so we're concerned about its ability to run a gargantuan title like Starfield. Its massive open galaxy will no doubt be taxing on hardware, as will Bethesda's beloved physics systems and interactivity.

There's always a chance that the game will run better than we expect, of course. Bethesda is likely optimizing Starfield for the Steam Deck as much as it can, and things like AMD FSR and CryoUtilities can improve the handheld's performance considerably. Even so, we don't recommend preordering the game with the specific goal of playing it on Steam Deck because there's a good chance you'll be disappointed by the experience.

Ahead of Starfield's launch, however, Valve pushed out a mysterious Steam Deck OS update in its preview channel that could relate to Starfield. Such fixes aren't unusual, but the fact the affected game wasn't named, just that it was "upcoming" leads many to think it is indeed Bethesda's upcoming epic. 

What we need now is some kind of official word on the matter to put the speculation to rest. 

Will Xbox Cloud Gaming save the day?

(Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

Starfield might not run well on Valve's handheld natively, but there's another way to enjoy the game: Xbox Cloud Gaming. As long as you have a subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and set everything up properly (follow our guide on Xbox Cloud Gaming on Steam Deck for a walkthrough) you'll be able to access Microsoft's gaming service and stream Starfield to your Deck, bypassing the aforementioned hardware concerns entirely. Instead of trying to force the handheld to play a game it's not ideal for, you can let Microsoft's Xbox Series X-based servers do the heavy lifting instead.

This option isn't without its downsides — you won't be able to play Starfield at all when you're not connected to the internet, and you'll have to deal with a bit of input lag — but even so, this will likely be the best way to experience the game on Steam Deck.

There's also the recently released Windows-powered ASUS ROG Ally to consider as well, which boasts considerably better specs than the Steam Deck. It's also much pricier at $700 and has worse battery life, but for many, its beefier hardware will make dealing with those caveats worth it. Thanks to the Ally's improved performance, we expect you'll be able to play Starfield at a stable 30 FPS on the system.

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

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