Can you play Starfield on Steam Deck?

Can you play Starfield on Steam Deck?

Starfield artwork on Steam Deck screen sitting on white desk

(Image credit: Future / Phil Hayton)

Starfield on Steam Deck seems like a perfect combination, letting you explore the Settled Systems on the go with Valve’s gaming handheld. And while Starfield can be played on a Steam Deck, there are a few things to consider when it comes to compatibility – if the Starfield system requirements are anything to go by, Bethesda’s RPG isn’t a perfectly smooth Steam Deck experience.

Minimum requirements aren’t always absolute, and lowering a game’s graphical settings is usually a given when it comes to Valve’s handheld. However, you should still curb your expectations somewhat when it comes to frame rates, as even the Xbox Series S is locked to 30fps. At the very least, Starfield is classed as ‘Playable’ on Steam Deck, and it should play nicely with the Asus ROG Ally too (via Insider Gaming). If you’re considering trying Starfield out on your Steam Deck, we’re here to help you make sense of what to expect.

Steam Deck sitting on Baesus docking station with Starfield compatibility information on screen

(Image credit: Future / Phil Hayton)


Starfield review

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield review: “An expansive and beautifully crafted open world experience full of endless discovery and opportunities.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with Valve’s compatibility checks, allow us to fill you in. The storefront giant uses its own Steam Deck Verified checklist to determine whether a PC game will work properly on the handheld. The system consists of three different categories, Unsupported, Playable, and Verified, with only the latter being branded to games the company considers to be ‘Great on Deck’.

Of course, the system is far from perfect, and there are many Unsupported games that seemingly work just fine on Valve’s handheld. At the same time, there are Steam Deck Verified releases that suffer from poor performance that some would deem unplayable, so it’s best to view the system as a helpful heads up than written law. 

As for why Starfield isn’t Verified on Steam Deck, it’s likely performance that’s keeping the RPG from the ‘Great on Deck’ list, though we don’t know for sure. Starfield is of course still playable on Steam Deck, but you’ll probably experience some frame rate turbulence. 

Starfield storefront page on Steam Deck

(Image credit: Future / Phil Hayton)

Starfield Steam Deck settings and performance tips 

There are a few things you can do to encourage better Starfield Steam Deck performance, and we’ve got a few tips to share. Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to miraculously play at 60fps+ just by tweaking settings, but you’ll still be able to ensure everything is optimized for the handheld:

  • Select a ‘low’ graphics preset (you can always crank things back up later).
  • Turn on AMD FSR 2.0 upscaling in the settings menu.
  • Stick to the Steam Deck’s 800p native resolution.
  • Consider using ‘Half Rate Shading’ in the Deck’s settings.

You won’t necessarily have to do all of the above to boost fps in Starfield using the Steam Deck, but each step can facilitate higher frame rates. Half Rate Shading in particular can really take the load off, but it can result in pixelated visuals depending on the game. It’s worth noting that if you’d prefer to play using a Steam Deck dock, you’ll want to pay close attention to resolution, as while 1080p doesn’t sound like much in 2023, it could prove too much for the portable while running the sci-fi RPG. 

Of course, if you’re looking for a handheld that’ll potentially offer better Starfield performance, there are more options than ever. Not only does the Asus ROG Ally wield an AMD Z1 Extreme APU that can handle demanding Steam games, but the Ayaneo 2S is also available for those looking for a premium punch.

You could also wait for the Lenovo Legion GO to land, as the laptop maker is reportedly cooking up its own Steam Deck rival. However, most alternative handhelds are a chunk more expensive than Valve’s portable powerhouse, so there’s no shame in using the heroic handheld we all know and love to play Starfield.

Check out the best gaming laptops and explore space using a portable powerhouse. Alternatively, take a peek at the best Alienware gaming PC builds for appropriately themed sci-fi rigs.

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I’ve been messing around with PCs, video game consoles, and tech since before I could speak. Don’t get me wrong, I kickstarted my relationship with technology by jamming a Hot Wheels double-decker bus into my parent’s VCR, but we all have to start somewhere. I even somehow managed to become a walking, talking buyer’s guide at my teenage supermarket job, which helped me accept my career fate. So, rather than try to realise my musician dreams, or see out my University degree, I started running my own retro pop culture site and writing about video games and tech for the likes of TechRadar, The Daily Star, and the BBC before eventually ending up with a job covering graphics card shenanigans at PCGamesN. Now, I’m your friendly neighbourhood Hardware Editor at GamesRadar, and it’s my job to make sure you can kick butt in all your favourite games using the best gaming hardware, whether you’re a sucker for handhelds like the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch or a hardcore gaming PC enthusiast.

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