We are in for a great connection. Just last night, the Elden Ring was lifted out of The Lands Between to please us with its painful Darksouls-inspired joy and we think those of you who ordered a Steam Deck will want to see how it works on Valve’s new gaming handheld. Elden Ring is already on the ever-growing list of Steam Deck compatible games, but does it play Okay right now is another story. But still, heck, you can play Elden Ring on a Steam deck!
The first impression is that this is a great game, but you already know that. I had no problems with official controls and all menus worked fine. Of course, there are some pretty small text in a lot of places on the screen, so I ended up hunched over and squinted. But there isn’t a lot of text to read, so I basically just cut and cast to my heart’s content.
What’s a little odd is playing a game that requires you to do a lot of dexterous ducking and diving on something heavier than a standard controller. It’s not a very heavy device, but it made the experience more clunky…and I blame it on my permanent death. And on top of that, the game faces more than a few hurdles in terms of performance, even on ultra-powerful gaming PCs.
We found that stuttering in Elden Ring was quite common during our initial testing on PC – in version 1.01 of the game, Jacob was even convinced that it happened no matter what was shown on the screen. Now that the release version has been released, I went to Elden Ring on the Steam Deck to see if anything had changed and now that blessed day of dual launch is at hand.
The game did have problems launching the first couple of times I tried to launch it. I pressed the play button and saw a blank screen at all it was not possible to pass by screensavers in the initial menu. After restarting a couple of times, it finally opened the gate and freed my Tarnished.
On high settings with the latest stable version of Proton enabled, there was a slight drop in frame rate in certain areas under certain circumstances. So at least we can say that it correlates with everything that happens in the game. I didn’t experience anything as catastrophic as Jacob’s second stutter, but I did notice a strange drop of 11-13 fps down from 35-40 fps. Most of the slowdown occurs where new areas are loading, masses of particle effects are present or objects appear.
In other words, it is confirmed by many theories that this is a problem with DX12. A lot of the problems are related to where the game creates the shader cache. You’re hoping that no new areas will load in the middle of a fight, but it can happen. However, particle effects and spawning will certainly affect your battles and in a game that relies so much on precise and well-timed movement, it will cause a lot of avoidable deaths.
Fortunately, the developers are doing this. Valve pointed me to a cutting-edge experimental version of Proton (untested dxvk, vkd3d-proton and wine) due out today as an update to the stable version. Implementing this into our Steam deck not only gave us access to the games’ online features, but it also looks like some work has been done to fix frame loss. I no longer experienced framerate issues on a problematic stretch of beach next to a huge waterfall.
But there is certainly much more to be done. For example, in the fight with the first mounted knight I came across, there was a rather unpleasant stutter. Bandai Namco released Official statement in which we are assured: “We will constantly work to improve the game so that it can be played comfortably on various PCs and platforms.” The post also notes that “For the PC version, updating your graphics card drivers to the latest version can significantly improve performance.”
We’re already working on the latest Steam Deck updates, so I guess we’ll just have to wait until this version of Proton is stable and move on. This is our advice if you end up with frame drops in Elden Ring on the Steam Deck as running an experimental version of Proton may put your game files at risk.