Best settings for The First Descendant on Steam Deck & Windows handhelds

Joel Loynds
the first descendant art of bunny coming through a steam deck

The First Descendant, Nexon’s latest live service game, does work on the Steam Deck – with some caveats. You’ll be limited to 30FPS and supersampling to squeeze the most stable performance out of the game.

Despite the game’s start screen alert that the Steam Deck’s specs don’t meet the minimum requirements, you’ll find it runs just fine.

As the game utilizes Unreal Engine 5, there are a few concessions you’ll have to make when playing. Even on a regular PC, the game still needs a few fixes here and there to get performance up to standard.

Supersampling is the savior here though. This takes part of the workload away from the Deck’s hardware by crushing the resolution down and using machine learning algorithms to upscale to the specified resolution. 

There are three to choose from: AMD’s FSR, Intel’s XeSS, and Epic’s own solution. We found that FSR below the “Quality” preset renders the game ugly mush. Much like with other higher-end games, you’ll find the screen muddy.

FSR 2 screenshot of The First Descendant

For The First Descendant, we recommend using any of the three supersampling options but force the game to limit itself to 30FPS. There are still drops, and Valve’s new Steam Recording will impact stability.

Obviously, you’ll also want to pair this with the low preset. Anything more and the performance begins to tank. We also chose to turn off motion blur to ensure no major hitches from the extra processing.

Best settings for Steam Deck:

  • Preset: Low
  • Motion Blur: Off
  • Additional options: AMD or Epic
    • Quality setting
  • V-Sync: On
  • Maximum Frame Rate: 30

Best controller mapping for Steam Deck:

The First Descendant equips you with a variety of abilities. These are mapped to the left shoulder button (LB) and a face button. Our top tip is to alter the controller preset to include the back triggers. 

In the game menu when you hit the Steam button, head to Controller Options. Here, you can remap the back triggers to accept a button combo.

Steam Deck controller menu with a red box over the L4 button options

For example, we have L4 set to LB+A. When you map the left bumper to the button, go back and hit the little settings cog. Now add an additional command, and choose the A button. When you’re in the field, you can hit that for quick access to get enemies off your back.

The First Descendant performance on Windows handhelds

Meanwhile, on the Windows handheld front, the game performs much better. Again, we had to use low presets to get a solid frame rate of around 30-40FPS, but the Ayaneo 2S felt much smoother. 

This is also due to being able to up the Total Power Draw (TDP) to 33 watts, over the Steam Deck’s 15. More power, plus equipped with a more powerful chip, it’s just logic. The Ayaneo was also pushing 40FPS in less congested areas at 1200p.

We’d suspect the same for the Asus ROG Ally and its kin, as the Ayaneo’s 7840U is near-equivalent to the Z1 Extreme.

We did find a weird bug with FSR on the Ayaneo 2S, however. The brightness would almost keep rising until we left the map, but we couldn’t recreate it again once we switched to Epic’s supersampling.

Best settings for Windows handhelds (Z1 Extreme & 7840U):

Screenshot taken from Ayaneo 2S of The First Descendant
  • Preset: Low
  • Motion blur: On
  • Additional options: AMD or Epic
    • Quality or Balanced setting
  • V-Sync On
  • Maximum Frame Rate: 30

The First Descendant is proving to be quite popular, but PS5 players seem to be suffering from performance issues. While Nexon’s games have always been divisive, it seems the formula of high-end looks and brain-candy gameplay could prove a success.

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