Valve's handheld console has seen tremendous success since its somewhat limited launch, and the portable PC gaming handheld still has restricted availability in some regions. Playing high-end modern titles on the go might seem farfetched, but the plucky Steam Deck expands its library of verified games practically every day.
If you're thinking of grabbing your own unit, or you're one of the proud owners looking for something new to play, we've gathered a roundup of the top choices this year. Every game on our list runs perfectly, as confirmed by Valve, so you won't need to tinker with any intricate settings to enjoy our roundup of the best Steam Deck games.
Aperture Desk Job
This free offering from Valve's first-party team should be the first thing everyone installs on a new Steam Deck; it's practically a guided tour demonstrating the control layout without being a dull chore. Set in the same world as the Portal games, you're asked to test a series of prototype products for Aperture Science and its robotic supervisor.
Aperture Desk Job is the perfect introduction to the Steam Deck, complete with the same dark humor as the games it references. You won't need to set aside a long time to play it either since the entire thing can be beaten in less than an hour, and it's free. You could even play it on a desktop PC if you wanted to, but this one is for Steam Deck gamers.
Hailed by Miles Dompier as one of the greatest RPGs of all time in his Elden Ring review for Xbox, the PC port saw equally high praise when it was released on Steam. This port even saw improvements on Steam Deck over the initial launch build. Valve's Proton compatibility layer reduced stress on the GPU shader pipeline stress and stutter with memory optimization, proving it to be one of the best platforms to play on.
Elden Ring has amassed over 400k reviews reporting positive feedback, making it one of the most tempting fantasy action games to pick up on Steam Deck. New players should be ready for a challenge; Elden Ring and its predecessors aren't famous for being easy. Still, playing on the go should provide plenty of time to hone your skills. Check our tips and tricks guide for a helping hand and thoroughly enjoy your journey through the Lands Between.
God of War
Initially developed by Santa Monica Studio as a PlayStation-exclusive title, God of War made its way to PC via Steam in 2022 with a series of visual improvements and customizable controls. This third-person action-adventure continues the story of Kratos, the titular Greek god of war, who journeys with his son Atreus through a Nordic landscape of snowy mountaintops and mystical caves.
Our senior editor Jez Corden praised the well-optimized PC port for having practically no flaws in his God of War review, claiming it to be polished to a glistening finish. If the PC port is the superior choice, Steam Deck offers the freedom to play it practically wherever you want. Don't miss out on this visceral, action-packed adventure.
Another title with a perfect score, senior editor Cale Hunt shared overwhelming praise in his Hades review for its addictive core gameplay loop paired with a beautiful presentation and intriguing story. This isometric roguelite dungeon crawler is easy to play but challenging to master, which is perfect for Steam Deck users who can pick up and play it anywhere in their spare time.
The gameplay is so satisfying that time soon slips slip away, so get ready to be obsessed with Hades. It's cheap, too, dropping as low as $20 in recent sales. Like Elden Ring, new players should be ready for a serious challenge, but there are plenty of weapons to choose from, so anyone should be able to find their perfect build as the immortal prince of the Underworld.
Vampire Survivors is a deceptively simple-looking survival game pitting you against hoards of enemies that increase in numbers until your screen is completely overrun with outrageous particle effects and animated statistics. It's an all-out assault on the senses that only gets more ridiculous the more you play, and it's winning over gamers who usually avoid this roguelike genre.
Despite the onslaught of on-screen information, the game feels fantastic to play on Steam Deck without making significant changes outside your personal preferences. Leveling up is quick and easy, and you'll soon lose track of time to this all-consuming, minimalistic masterpiece that sells for a surprisingly low price.
A list of the best Steam Deck games wouldn't be complete without something from Valve's first-party offerings, and Portal 2 is arguably the best game they've made to date. This puzzling first-person platformer will require you to think outside the box as you solve problems with portals, challenging your understanding of physics with a mix of fantastical robotic characters.
Some fast-paced sections might seem too tricky for a handheld, but the combination of thumbsticks and trackpads allows for fast and precise aiming. The single-player mode features fantastic voice acting during its interactive story, and the co-op campaign offers its own exciting tale with unique puzzles to solve. Check out fan-made levels in the Steam Workshop when you've beaten the story modes for more challenges.
Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered
Another former PlayStation exclusive making its way to PC, Insomniac Games made the Spider-Man game everyone always wanted and brought it to PC. The open-world web-slinging mechanics have never felt better, and this modern take on the popular superhero game features a world full of side missions that are just as fun as the main story.
Certified as the perfect pickup for Steam Deck by Miles Dompier, the handheld has no issues in maintaining a solid framerate even during Spider-Man's most action-packed moments. Valve's gyro controls come in clutch for controlling the web-slinger around the big apple, blending perfectly with the extra buttons on the Steam Deck's rear. It's tremendous fun and a must-have for Deck owners.
No Man's Sky
No Man's Sky has evolved a great deal since it launched, including roguelike gameplay with the Leviathan Expedition and developer Hello Games pushing enhancements like cross-play in one of the most inspiring comeback stories in gaming history. This open-world survival game has space-faring players exploring procedurally generated planets in a beautiful journey to the center of the universe.
Officially targeting 60 FPS, the Steam Deck automatically adjusts the framerate during intense moments but still looks great on the handheld screen. There's plenty of customization available for the control scheme, and you can even use the internal gyro for flying your spaceships. Yet another time-sink for your new handheld PC, everyone should give No Man's Sky a shot.
A unique idea in the saturated cyberpunk genre, Stray has players navigating its feline protagonist through a dystopian world of decaying cities and foul sewers. The world is devoid of human beings, with only television-headed robots littering the streets offering temporary companionship and guidance with objectives.
The third-person platformer looks beautiful on Steam Deck and plays perfectly, ideal for beating individual levels during downtime. Pair up with a drone buddy and explore this mysterious world lovingly crafted by BlueTwelve Studio, whose affinity for cats developed into a delightful adventure game full of puzzles.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection
Yet another example of a PlayStation exclusive finding a brand new audience on PC through Steam, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection includes the fantastic fourth game and its standalone expansion in one package that runs brilliantly on Steam Deck, albeit sticking to around 30 FPS.
One of the most thrilling cinematic experiences ever created, players control adventurer Nathan Drake in search of ancient pirate treasure through the story of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. It's packed with incredible set pieces and challenging third-person platforming, followed by a romp in India with The Lost Legacy.
Most of the games in this list come with a caution about their addictive nature, but Stardew Valley takes the cake. This resource-gathering simulator resembles old-school 16-bit games, instructing players to manage a farm and build relationships with the town's residents to the point you can propose marriage.
The game plays fine as standard, but a few tweaks to Proton and a framerate cap can extend battery life for longer gameplay sessions. Stardew Valley lends itself perfectly to Steam Deck, and we love it just as much as we did in our Xbox One port review. Be prepared to sink hundreds of hours into this hugely popular farming sim, which currently enjoys over 400,000 overwhelmingly positive reviews.
Persona 5 Royal
Rated as a must-play JRPG in our Persona 5 Royal review, it's another title that requires a lot of time to sink your teeth into. A group of high schoolers forms a vigilante group to take down the criminal underworld of Tokyo, using their supernatural creature companions known as Personas with a turn-based battle system.
It's a fairly standard setup for anyone familiar with the genre, but the hyperactive aesthetic makes for a gorgeous presentation well suited to Steam Deck. Controls are displayed in huge stylized fonts, and status effects are clearly visible. There's plenty of fun within the deep combat system, and the cast of characters is well-written into the bizarre story.
Choosing the best Steam Deck games
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There's no shortage of outstanding games on the Steam store. If you're looking for something new to play, start with Aperture Desk Job to get a feel for the standard controls, then make a selection from our roundup to pair with some of the best Steam Deck accessories for external controller support and more.
The fun doesn't stop with our collection either; Steam will automatically recommend similar games based on your recent activity, so don't worry about running out of ideas. If you're considering buying this exciting handheld hardware, check our full Steam Deck review to discover why it's one of the most desirable devices.
Ben Wilson is a Windows Central channel editor with technical expertise and a background in electronics. Fueling a technology and video game obsession with coffee, you can usually find him behind one screen or another.
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