Whether you’re an early adopter or you were the lucky recipient of a Steam Deck over the holidays, there’s an absolute dragon’s hoard worth of games to choose from. But between the relatively limited storage space of Valve’s handheld and the occasionally spotty Steam Deck verification system, it’s not always clear what’s worth your time.
Thankfully, The Verge is home to its fair share of Steam Deck fans. Here are some stellar suggestions for games you should try out on your new handheld, ranging from massive open-world experiences like Elden Ring and bite-size first-person shooter experiences like Superhot to whatever the hell kind of game Vampire Survivors is supposed to be.
Earlier this year, fantasy author George R.R. Martin and the FromSoftware development team collaborated on one of the biggest Souls games to date. Elden Ring is set in a sprawling dark-fantasy world full of unforgiving enemies and deep lore to uncover. Even if you’ve deliberately avoided the Souls-like genre in the past, Elden Ring is worth checking out for its spectacle alone. One of the first games to earn a Steam Deck “verified” label, Elden Ring clearly showcases what’s possible on the Steam Deck by providing a huge game that looks amazing.
I’m not entirely sure what kind of game Vampire Survivors is supposed to be — on the surface, it’s a time survival game where you inevitably die — but I can’t get enough. While the overall aesthetic is clearly inspired by classic Castlevania titles like Symphony of the Night, describing Vampire Survivors is hardly that simple. With runs lasting no longer than 30 minutes and demanding very little of your hardware, Vampire Survivors is essentially an ideal game for the Steam Deck.
The third entry in the Superhot franchise, Superhot: Mind Control Delete, is the most expansive version of the time-tripping first-person shooter. Mind Control Delete has more levels, more weapons, and more ways to experience the same satisfying Superhot gameplay. The wrinkle here is that your adversaries, their bullets, and yours only move when you do, leaving you with an experience that’s intense and cerebral. Each level in Superhot: Mind Control Delete only lasts a minute or two in real time, making the game easy to pick up or put down, and the minimalistic graphics allow the Steam Deck to handle it with ease. Superhot: Mind Control Delete is the best John Wick game that doesn’t have John Wick in it.
No Man’s Sky had a rocky start but has evolved into something entirely different thanks to the tireless efforts of its developers who are still pumping out free updates. With a virtually endless galaxy to explore at your leisure, the Steam Deck is a great way to experience No Man’s Sky. If you’re partial to crafting and survival experiences like Subnautica, No Man’s Sky is right up your alley. If it piqued your interest when it originally came out in 2016 but you for any reason couldn’t be bothered at the time, this game is worth exploring on your Steam Deck.
While most players have since gravitated to the online world of Fallout 76, Fallout 4 remains an excellent single-player experience with an absolute wealth of community-driven content. It won’t run flawlessly if you have the graphics maxed out, but if you’re willing to compromise in a few places, Fallout 4 has no trouble adapting to the Steam Deck hardware. The game already presents a sizable experience out of the box, even without its DLC. If you missed out on the fourth mainline entry in this post-nuclear roleplaying series, this is the perfect time to get reacquainted ahead of the release of Fallout: London.
Tunic borrows heavily from classic The Legend of Zelda titles, but its adorable aesthetic betrays the difficulty of this stylish isometric adventure game. It’s a title that rewards exploration and is chock-full of secrets for you to discover. Admittedly, the enemies and boss battles can be grueling at times, but they’re also incredibly gratifying to overcome once you’ve figured them out. Tunic is a fully verified Steam Deck title, runs beautifully, and is a great addition to your collection if you’re looking for something similar to The Legend of Zelda on Steam.
Overload is the spiritual successor to the Descent series of the ‘90s, which plays remarkably well on the Steam Deck despite its “unknown” compatibility rating. Each level in Overload has you flying through a maze of tunnels and mine shafts, battling endless waves of robots to eventually destroy a central reactor and escape. The original game has over 15 levels but also has years of free community-made content for you to dive into, making Overload worth checking out if you’re in the mood for an unconventional first-person shooter.
The fast-paced arcade platformer Rollerdrome is an odd union of Tony Hawk Pro Skater and stylish slow-motion gunplay. Clearly inspired by the 1975 movie Rollerball starring James Caan, Rollerdrome is a stylish dystopian bloodsport on eight wheels. You’ll play through a series of arenas populated by bad guys for you to mow down while chaining tricks together to replenish your ammo. The story is a bit thin, but the bite-size nature of the levels makes Rollerdrome an excellent candidate for your Steam Deck library.
The romantic Western epic from Rockstar is starting to show its age at this point but is an excellent open-world adventure regardless. The fictitious analog of the Old West is so immersive, you’ll likely pick up a subconscious Southern drawl. You’ll need to make some graphical compromises to keep performance consistent on the Deck, but even on low settings, Red Dead Redemption 2 looks amazing on Valve’s handheld. With a massive story and a wealth of side activities to engage in, it’s easy to see why we think you should make this game your huckleberry.