I used to be ready for a lot worse. After some controversy and grumbling over Warhammer 40K: Darktide’s efficiency all through its pre-order beta and launch, I did not assume there was an opportunity in hell it might provide a superb expertise on the Steam Deck, Valve’s moveable gaming machine. Heck, I had some bother getting Darktide to run on my PC with an RTX 3070 at a secure 1440p, 60 fps. I have been holding off on making an attempt the game on the Steam Deck for weeks, figuring Darktide’s enemy hordes and large open areas would smash the Steam Deck like an Ogryn having a heated gaming second.

As a substitute, it… labored? 

I spent an hour taking part in Darktide on the Steam Deck, utilizing the Deck’s built-in body limiter to lock the framerate to 30 fps. With in-game settings dialed approach down, Darktide maintained that 30 fps for almost the whole lot of two missions, with just one main second of stutter and some fast drops to 27 fps. Utterly playable—in the event you can deal with controlling an intense first-person shooter with analog sticks, anyway.

For me, Darktide is one other entry on the record of video games that the Steam Deck can play, however is not actually splendid for. On the technical aspect, getting Darktide as much as a secure 30 fps meant switching to the low graphics profile, then reducing a couple of settings but additional. I disabled ambient occlusion completely, barely lowered the default FOV (which means the game has to attract much less on the display at a given time), and enabled AMD’s FSR2 upscaling approach on the “balanced” setting. It actually appears to be like like a game on low settings with all these adjustments, however at 1280×800 on the Steam Deck’s small display, it is onerous to note too a lot misplaced element. At 7 inches, this display has about double the pixel density of my 27-inch 1440p monitor, so it might get away with a little bit of aliasing.

After taking part in for a couple of minutes, I observed that Darktide was retaining the Steam Deck’s GPU working at about 90% load, whereas the CPU was a lot much less encumbered, hovering round 50% or so. That informed me I might in all probability go into the settings and tick a couple of choices up larger, like “max ragdolls” which controls the physics of enemies whenever you ship them flying, in addition to the FOV. I would tentatively set max ragdolls to almost its lowest stage, however was capable of tick it up a pair notches with out overloading the Steam Deck’s CPU.

Developer Fatshark has warned gamers that Darktide is closely CPU-dependent, however I’ve many of the CPU-punishing settings very low in comparison with where I’ve them on desktop, so it is sensible that the quad core CPU right here can do the job at 30 fps.

Not dangerous for low settings. And Darktide natively helps 1280×800. Good. (Picture credit score: Fatshark)

It is spectacular that Darktide runs on the Steam Deck, however is it truly enjoyable to play there? A number of issues make me hesitant to say sure. One is that the small display and the low decision make it onerous to see, not to mention headshot, distant enemies. Darktide is mostly a shadowy game, and enemies like to cover behind cowl on the opposite aspect of a giant room and take potshots at you. I discovered myself aiming my magnum at where I thought enemy heads can be and pulling the set off hoping for a kill. On my PC I just about all the time know who I am shooting at, and I can see their head pop or arm go flying off with sufficient readability to really feel a bit jolt of satisfaction after the kill.

Then there’s the controls: I do not assume there’s any likelihood I can play Darktide as successfully on the Deck as on PC. I can not pull an analog set off to melee as rapidly as I can click on my mouse, and I undoubtedly cannot goal at distant heads as precisely. Analog sticks simply ain’t it for first-person shooters, particularly at 30 fps, which seems like moving in gradual movement when you’re used to larger framerates. Melee does really feel meatier with the triggers, however the milliseconds it takes to totally press a set off to dam can legitimately make the distinction between blocking or getting hit.

(Picture credit score: Fatshark)

The wonderful factor in regards to the Steam Deck is that I might discover workarounds for a few of these criticisms if I put within the time. I might use a trackpad to goal as an alternative of analog sticks, approximating a mouse, or practice my mind to make use of gyro controls; I might bind melee buttons to the clicky again paddles as an alternative of utilizing the triggers. It is a much better system for shooters than a console and a TV because of that flexibility. However 30 fps in a game with this a lot motion, a game that feels so good to regulate on a extra highly effective PC, remains to be a deal-breaker.

Darktide can be a spectacle. Its missions take you thru the darkish coronary heart of an impossibly huge metropolis, stuffed with bottomless chasms and vents spewing steam and fireplace and lights strobing behind 20-foot followers. On a robust PC, even with out ray tracing, the lighting and ambiance are spectacular. Taking part in on the Steam Deck requires giving all that up. It is unbelievable that it is playable in any respect, and I am tempted to go away Darktide put in for my subsequent journey so I do not miss a match if my associates are all desperate to play. However Darktide deserves greater, sooner, and flashier to point out off probably the most detailed model of Warhammer 40,000 we have ever seen.