Can you play Skyrim on Steam Deck?

If you’re considering buying a Steam Deck to enjoy mobile gaming, you might be wondering if one of the most popular RPGs of all time works well on Valve’s new handheld, especially since it looks like you can run Skyrim on it. Can Skyrim be played on the Steam Deck? I was too. Everything from PC to consoles and Nintendo Switch.

Valve says it tests every game on Steam to see how it performs on the Steam Deck. Some games work just fine, others can be played with some issues, and some games just don’t play well on the Steam deck and are not recommended.

As Valve tests the game for the Steam Deck, it sorts them by tested, playable and unsupported. There is a fourth category for games that have not yet been tested: Unknown.

Surprisingly, the most popular version of Skyrim currently falls into this last category.

Can Skyrim be played on the Steam Deck?

Several versions of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are available on Steam, including Skyrim Legendary Edition (2011) and Skyrim Special Edition. There’s also a Skyrim Anniversary Edition; although it’s just a Special Edition with many extra DLC and features, we currently consider it the same game as Skyrim SE. Finally, there is Skyrim VR.

Since Skyrim Special Edition is the most popular version among Steam users, we’ll start with it.

Skyrim SE/AE

Skyrim Special Edition compatibility with Steam Deck

Skyrim SE is currently falling into the Unknown category. Skyrim Special Edition is not confirmed on the steam deck. If you are using Steam Deck Compatibility, a site that shows you which games in your Steam library are verified, playable, and not supported, Skyrim Special Edition doesn’t show up there. This indicates that Skyrim Special Edition has not yet been tested by Valve, which is a bit odd considering Skyrim has been in the top 100 most played games on Steam since it launched in 2011. And that’s the version that most people play today.

However, that doesn’t mean it won’t work on Steam Deck gives Skyrim Special Edition a gold rating with over 600 reviews from users who have played it with Proton, the Steam Deck compatibility layer. It’s not a flawless experience, and some users have reported audio bugs (in some cases, NPC dialogue won’t play at all), stutters, freezes, and other issues.

I’ve emailed Bethesda to ask if they’re working on making Skyrim SE more compatible with Steam Deck. And I’ll let you know when I get a response.

Our tests

Our experience with launching Skyrim Special Edition on Steam Deck

Our hardware lead Dave James tried twice to run Skyrim Special Edition on his steak deck. A few weeks ago, during the first Steam Deck tests, Dave said that Skyrim Special Edition was not working correctly due to intermittent freezes. He described the experience as “virtually unplayable.”

However, upon downloading it again this week, he found a much smoother experience. There were no freezes, and Skyrim Special Edition ran at 60fps on Ultra settings on the Steam Deck. He could load old saves without any problems. And switch to survival mode.

Skyrim LE

Skyrim Legendary Edition compatibility with Steam Deck

We’re talking about the 2011 version of Skyrim here, which is a different game from the Special Edition (you can still buy it on Steam, though)—not listed in the Steam store). Skyrim Legendary Edition Rated Playable on Steam Deck has been tested by Valve and works on the deck, albeit with some noted issues.

Here’s what Valve says:

“Valve testing shows that this game is playable on Steam Deck. This game works on Steam Deck but may require additional interaction or customization efforts.”

🟡 This game’s launcher/configuration tool may require a touch screen or virtual keyboard and may have hard-to-read text.

🟡 Some features are not available when using the default controller configuration requiring touchscreen, virtual keyboard, or community configuration.

🟡 To enter text, you need to call the on-screen keyboard manually

🟢 This game displays Steam Deck controller icons.

🟢 The text of the in-game interface is read in the Steam deck.

🟢 The default graphics configuration of this game works well on Steam Deck.

It seems likely that the need to use the Steam on-screen keyboard rather than the in-game keyboard that can be used with an analog stick is why Skyrim is “playable” and not “tested.”

Skyrim VR

Can Skyrim VR be played on the Steam Deck?

Oh no. Not surprising, but it’s probably worth saying just in case: Steam Deck does not support VR games. (This is a PC, though, so you could probably find a way to make this happen if you want to have a wrong time).


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