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Introduction

Starfield, Bethesda's much-anticipated space RPG, is playable on the Steam Deck, albeit with some limitations. This guide provides insights and tips for optimizing your Starfield experience on Valve's handheld gaming PC.

Starfield on Steam Deck: Compatibility and Initial Setup

  • Compatibility Status: As of the game's release, Starfield is categorized as "playable" on Steam Deck, meaning it's not Steam Deck Verified but can run with some adjustments.
  • Proton Experimental Tool: To address crashes during game load or new game start, go to Starfield's Steam Properties โ†’ Compatibility tab, check "Force the use of a specific Steam Play compatibility tool," and select Proton Experimental.

Recommended Steam Deck Settings for Starfield

To achieve a balance between performance and visuals, the following settings are recommended:

  • Overall Preset: Medium or Lower
  • Enable Depth of Field: Off
  • Dynamic Resolution: Off
  • Shadow Quality: Low
  • Motion Blur: Low
  • Volumetric Lighting: Low
  • Upscaling: FSR2

Performance Expectations

  • Frame Rate: With the above settings, expect around 20-30 fps in space exploration. Densely populated areas and combat scenes may see fps drop to the low 20s or less.
  • Battery Life: The game will likely consume battery quickly, offering around an hour of playtime. Keep your charger handy.
  • Visual Detail vs. Performance: Lowering the overall preset can boost fps but at the cost of visual detail. Higher presets will further reduce fps.

Gameplay Experience on Steam Deck

  • Combat and Exploration: Combat scenes, particularly those involving jetpack use, may be challenging at lower fps. For non-combat activities like spaceship modification, outpost management, or bounty collection, the lower frame rate is less of an issue.
  • Hardware Performance: The Steam Deck handles the game without excessive fan noise or overheating.
  • Accessibility: If you struggle with menu text readability, consider adjusting the text size in the accessibility settings.

Should You Play Starfield on Steam Deck?

  • Gameplay Compromises: Playing Starfield on the Steam Deck involves trade-offs in frame rate and detail. It's more suitable for tasks that don't require high frame rates.
  • Only a Secondary Gaming Device: The Steam Deck may not be the ideal primary device for playing Starfield, especially for intense combat sequences.
  • Future Compatibility Improvements: Given the history of Bethesda titles on Steam Deck, such as Skyrim and Fallout, major improvements in compatibility for Starfield may be limited.

Conclusion

While Starfield is playable on the Steam Deck, it requires adjustments to settings and expectations. It's a viable option for certain types of gameplay, particularly if you need a portable solution. However, for the full Starfield experience, a more powerful gaming setup is recommended. Keep an eye on future updates for potential improvements in Steam Deck compatibility.


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