[Updated: July 24 with additional information on performance and settings, highlighted below.]
Just a couple of days ahead of its early access launch, Remnant 2 was confirmed to be Steam Deck verified by its developer. And this is good news, right?
Absolutely! As someone who's been looking forward to playing this game and someone who plays on a Steam Deck, the tweet below was like music to my ears.
That's even though I've already been playing it on the Steam Deck as part of the review period and have been mostly happy with it. But I'm still not sure anyone who's hoping to play Remnant 2 on Steam Deck a lot should jump in right away. Let me explain.
#Remnant2 is #SteamDeck verified! ✅ Prepare to explore the depths of the unknown on the go or at home @OnDeck. pic.twitter.com/8KuPSS1FdmJuly 19, 2023
Solid performance, but not all the time
I am starting to question the Steam Deck verification process more and more of late. My issue with it is that in the four criteria, there's nothing relating to frame rate. This is pretty important. Based on Valve's criteria, Remnant 2 does indeed tick all four boxes.
There are no compatibility warnings, the controller system on the Deck works out of the box with no additional tweaking, it does support the Deck's native 1280 x 800 resolution and there are no issues with Proton. I've been using Proton Experimental to make sure I had the latest and greatest available, but it's all totally fine.
The issues I've experienced, though, would make it hard for me to recommend buying Remnant 2 right away if you plan to play a lot on the Steam Deck. It isn't bad but it could certainly use some work.
For starters, playing at 720p or the Deck's native 1280 x 800 just isn't doable at 30 FPS. At least not consistently. For example, the tutorial mission runs perfectly well locked to 30 FPS and can even go as high as 40 FPS, but as soon as you go into the first underground section it starts to dip.
Likewise, when you get to Ward 13 for the first time (and in my experience, subsequent visits), the frame rate consistently dips under 30, regularly settling around 24/25 FPS. It's not unplayable, but it's hardly great.
Things are better in the first world you roll into as part of the campaign, and I played through it right up to and including the first boss fight rarely dipping below. But after the boss fight, the areas I was sent into next had a lot more visual effects, such as particles floating in the air, and this one was less performant.
I've been running the game at one or two steps below 720p to try and even it out, but it didn't really work. Even on the lowest settings and FSR set to ultra performance, it never really hits a solid 30 FPS. And for a game like this it really does hamper the playing experience.
I've left the original text of this article untouched but wanted to share an update and its associated weirdness. It came to light one of the dev team had been playing at 60 FPS on the Deck, to which my only response was "how?!"
For one, limiting the Deck to 30 FPS in its quick menu seems to be a no go. With this option turned on the game chugs and rarely seems to hit 30 FPS in my experience. So, you need to leave it at 60 FPS. And don't change any settings on the CPU or GPU either.
If you then need to go into the game settings and tell the game to target 30 FPS you get a reported 60 FPS. But it doesn't seem like this is accurate with Gamescope errors. Change the frame rate to unlocked in the game settings to get the most accurate reporting, which does, thankfully, seem to indicate at least 30 FPS.
You also need to have FSR enabled in the game and set to performance. The Deck's built in FSR doesn't seem to do enough and again, I don't really understand why. It's almost like the Steam Deck and Remnant 2 are at odds and the result is the strangest settings I've seen in a while. But follow these settings for about the best experience you'll get on the Deck right now and keep the graphics to low.
There's certainly some optimization work that Remnant 2 could use for both Steam Deck and desktop, and for the former, we could even see some post-launch updates to Proton or the custom Proton GE that will make it a little better still. But if you're planning to play it a lot on the Steam Deck, be aware of the weirdness detailed above, too.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine