Can you play Returnal on Steam Deck?

returnal steam deck

Some of Sony’s port work has been pretty good so far from a technical perspective, but it seems the Steam Deck has met its match.

The last in Sony’s original lineup of PlayStation exclusives has finally made it to the PC, and while the game is great to play on PC, the Steam Deck is another question.

It seems as though, despite their best efforts, the team behind the PC port couldn’t manage to cram Returnal onto a piece of hardware like the Steam Deck. As such, you’re probably going to see the high-octane action of Housemarque’s first major AAA title at much less fidelity.

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The good news about Returnal is that it does work straight out of the box. We had no issues getting it installed, loaded, and into a game. It loaded much quicker on the Steam Deck than it did on our PC. This is probably due to the LPDDR5 RAM, as both systems we used managed to play the game off of a PCIe 3.0 drive just fine.

That’s where the good news ends though, as the Steam Deck will require you to make some massive sacrifices with Returnal.

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Returnal Steam Deck benchmarks

At no point could we get the game to run at more than 40FPS comfortably, and even then, when using the 40Hz/40FPS trick to try to squeeze performance out of it, it felt lumpy to play. Hitchy refresh rates and frame rates don’t suit Returnal one bit, but the Steam Deck does.

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In our review of the game’s PC port, we found that playing in a portable setting – either over Steam Link or locally – netted us the best experience as we toddled about the landscape shooting aliens. It isn’t as smooth as the high refresh rate monitor we enjoyed the game on for the most part, but it feels right at home on the Steam Deck.

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Most rogue-like and high-difficulty games do, as it turns out. This includes things like Elden Ring and Vampire Survivors.

Looking to grab Returnal? You can get 17% off of the PC port right now.

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