Best Steam Deck games in 2022: Elden Ring, Apex Legends & more

Image of Elden Ring on Steam Deck, one of the best Steam Deck games in 2022Valve/FromSoft

Valve’s handheld PC, the Steam Deck, is now in more hands than ever and there are plenty of games to enjoy on the device – but what should you play first? Here are the best Steam Deck games in 2022.

The Steam Deck is gaining popularity since it debuted in February 2022, and Valve has finally caught up on back-orders, too — so if you order one, it’ll be sent almost immediately. It almost makes up for the lack of Half-Life 3. Still, the portable PC keeps pulling more users to PC gaming.

With decades worth of gaming to be found on Steam, it can be tough to dig through and find the best Steam Deck games. After all, Valve is constantly testing games in the ever-expanding Steam library, making finding the best Steam Deck games of 2022 a little like finding a few needles in a skyscraper-sized haystack.

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Thankfully, we’ve put plenty of time into testing out the best Steam Deck games, and have put together an extensive list of recommendations below. So without further ado, here are the best Steam Deck games in 2022.

Apex Legends

Apex Legends Vantage screenshotEA/Respawn Entertainment

It’d be fair to say that the Nintendo Switch port of Apex Legends isn’t the ideal way to play, with low detail and shorter draw distances meaning it’s not always easy to spot opponents. While Apex Legends Mobile is great, playing Apex Legends on Steam Deck is the best place to play Respawn’s battle royale on the go.

Whether you’re grinding through the Battle Pass, teaming up with friends, or just jumping in for a quick match between meetings (you know, hypothetically), Apex Legends is an easy pick for the Steam Deck.

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Dead Cells

Dead Cells screenshot showing combatMotion Twin

Dead Cells is a beautiful amalgam of roguelikes and Metroidvanias and just feels right on a handheld device. Players start out as a ball of slime that takes on a human form, and from there challenges you to fight your way to freedom across platforming and combat challenges with randomized loot along the way.

We’ve played for dozens of hours and still haven’t seen every bizarre gear combination, from turrets to swords, to bows that freeze enemies. It looks, and runs, beautifully on the Steam Deck, too.

Divinity: Original Sin II

Divinity Original Sin 2 screenshot showing magic wielders in combatLarian Studios

While Divinity: Original Sin II’s isometric perspective may have it looking a little like Diablo, this RPG is all about choice. In fact, it plays out akin to a tabletop game at times, with your character’s attributes and your own smarts helping you navigate its authoritarian world.

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That means your undead character will scare off the townsfolk unless they’re wearing a bucket over their head, while combat can be influenced by the environment – letting you set fire to spilled liquids, or electrifying pools of water. It’s not just one of the best Steam Deck games — it’s one of the best RPGs of the last decade.

Elden Ring

Elden Ring, one of the best games on the steam deck, screenshot showing Stormvale CastleFromSoftware

Launching in the same month as the Steam Deck, Elden Ring is not only one of the year’s best games so far, but it’s one of the best games ever made. It’s a challenging but rewarding action RPG that you can spend hours in or play in bite-sized chunks

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Being able to take Elden Ring on the go does for it what the Switch did for Breath of the Wild — the Lands Between becomes a pocketable playground, letting you dip into a boss battle, dungeon, or just roam the world wherever you are.

Hitman 3

Hitman 3 screenshot showing Agent 47 on a balcony in DubaiIO Interactive

Hitman 3 is one of our favorite live-service titles, but it works surprisingly well on a handheld. That’s because players can dip into any of its locations (and those from the prior two games) and chip away at challenges while watching TV. It makes a huge AAA title much more playable at your own pace.

It’s worth noting that if you picked up Hitman 3 during its period of Epic Game Store exclusivity, you can still install it on your Steam Deck via the Heroic launcher and make use of the EGS cloud save functionality, too. Still, it does play better with an internet connection, so you may want to pick up the excellent Hitman: Blood Money for your commute.

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Inscryption screenshot showing a game of cardsDaniel Mullins Games

As we pointed out in a retrospective of underappreciated gems of 2021, Inscryption is the kind of game that you should throw yourself into without reading too much about it. Part deckbuilder, part escape room, it’s a game that’s constantly shedding its skin to reveal new layers and unsettling new details.

While it’s now come to more platforms, it feels great on Steam Deck, particularly when using the touchpads for input. That said, maybe don’t play it before bed.

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid 5 screenshot showing Snake and a dog running from enemiesKonami

Similarly to Hitman 3, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (and Ground Zeroes) is a stealth title that feels perfect for playing in smaller stints. Kojima’s final Metal Gear title may still not make a lick of sense plot-wise in 2022, but the Fox Engine looks and runs perfectly on Steam Deck.

With so many of its missions being ideal for hopping in, kidnapping some guards, and leaving without a trace, you’ll be surprised by how quickly time flies when you’re in and out the game’s huge battlefields while playing in bed.

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

Monster Hunter Rise screenshot showing combatCapcom

We loved Monster Hunter Rise on the Switch, but being able to get the higher frame rate of the even better PC port, and still play it portably, makes the Steam Deck the place to play it. Factor in the huge Sunbreak expansion too and there are few action RPGs that can beat it.

We should mention that some text can be tougher to read, but if that’s not a dealbreaker it’s hard not to jump in for a quick hunt when you find half an hour spare.

Monster Train

Monster Train screenshot showing combat, one of the best steam deck games.Shiny Shoe/Good Shepherd Entertainment

Slay The Spire may be the go-to deckbuilder, but Monster Train gives it a run for its money. It does that through taking place on, as you may expect, a train careening to hell to keep it from freezing over. Along the way you’ll battle through card-based encounters, but the big differentiator here from similar titles is the addition of a trio of levels to fight on rather than just one.

That makes it a tough, but rewarding experience, and with over 200 cards to use you’ll no doubt find yourself getting the itch to try another run. Thankfully, with the Steam Deck, you can do just that.

Valve’s official testing hasn’t confirmed Monster Train as ‘Verified’, but we had no trouble getting it to run.

NBA 2K23

NBA 2K - one of the best games on the steam deck - Screenshot showing Michael Jordan2K

Whether you’re addicted to MyTeam or want to build out your custom character in MyCareer, NBA 2K23 is just as good on Steam Deck as it is anywhere else. Adjusting to the sticks of the console takes a few minutes if you’ve spent any time playing it elsewhere, but before you know it you’ll be sinking buckets like a pro.

It doesn’t hurt that this year’s game is 2K’s best effort yet, and microtransactions aside there’s never been a better basketball sim on any platform.

No Man’s Sky

No Man's Sky screenshot showing an asteroid field vistaHello Games

There are a million stories about No Man’s Sky’s resurgence after a launch that could’ve buried it, but the game goes from strength to strength with update after update. And, now that it’s available on Steam Deck, you could feasibly play it wherever, forever.

With a huge galaxy of randomly generated planets, wars to fight, trade routes to fly, and resources to exploit, No Man’s Sky is a marvel on any platform — and that makes it an easy pick for one of the best Steam Deck games of 2022.

Rogue Legacy 2

Rogue Legacy 2 screenshot showing combatCellar Door Games

Another Metroidvania, in this economy? Sure, we’ve already got Dead Cells on this list, but we couldn’t leave Rogue Legacy 2 off. The sequel to one of the most influential indies of the PS3 era, Rogue Legacy 2 is a tough as nails platformer that has players exploring a castle before invariably snuffing it and being succeeded by their heir in a roguelike, run-based pattern.

Each heir is unique, meaning you may end up with a shortsighted archer, or a spellcaster that accidentally fires attacks in the wrong direction. It’s always fun, often hilarious, and a great game to play on the go.

Vampire Survivors

Vampire Survivors screenshot showing combat, one of the best games on the steam deck.Poncle

Thanks to its low price, addictive gameplay, and excellent compatibility, Vampire Survivors has become somewhat of a rite of passage for new Steam Deck owners. It’s another roguelite, where players slay monsters (although, uh, no vampires, curiously) through auto-attacks and attempt to stay alive as long as possible.

It’s a game full of surprising depth, nuance, and variety, and it’s hard not to load it up for another run after your character finally does croak.

Those are our picks for the best Steam Deck games of 2022. For more best of content, check out our lists below:

Best mobile games | Best free mobile games | Best gacha mobile games | Best free horror games | Best Xbox Game Pass games | Best PlayStation Plus games | Best games of 2022 so far | Best Meta Quest 2 games