The Steam Deck has been out for months, but many hopeful buyers are still waiting on their handheld. Valve hasn’t been idly shipping units, though. The company continues to add games to its list of Deck Verified titles, which Valve itself has verified to work with the Deck.
This list is mainly focused on games that you can’t play on another handheld (and in some cases, on any other platform). Although Deck Verified games offer the best experience, there are thousands of additional titles that still work on the Steam Deck. Make sure to read our roundup of the best Steam Deck games for a few options. To get the most out of your new handheld, here are the Steam Deck Verified games you should play first.
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
If you want one game to play first on your Steam Deck, it’s Elden Ring. It’s the frontrunner for the best game of 2022, and it was among the first batch of titles Valve added to the Deck Verified program. Exclusively released on consoles and PC, Elden Ringis an open-world game that’s stuffed to the brim with secrets, bosses, and puzzles. Developer From Software is known for the Dark Souls series and similar Soulslike games, and Elden Ringbrings the same level of brutal difficulty. The Steam Deck eases the burden a bit, though, allowing you to adventure in short bursts instead of banging your head against a tough boss.
Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows)
Role-playing (RPG), Adventure, Indie
Iron Gate AB
Coffee Stain Publishing
February 02, 2021
Valheim trailer | PC Gaming Show 2020
A big reason the Steam Deck is so exciting is that it allows you to play games that would otherwise only be available on PC. Valheim is a prime example. This open-world survival game made massive waves when it launched in early 2021, but it hasn’t made its way to consoles. The Steam Deck allows you to take it on the go. In Valheim, you adventure in a procedurally generated world with up to nine friends, discovering new territory, finding new resources, and encountering devastating monsters inspired by Norse mythology. Valheim is endless, and that’s the perfect type of game for the Steam Deck.
God of War
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4
Hack and slash/Beat 'em up, Adventure
SIE Santa Monica Studio
Sony Interactive Entertainment
April 20, 2018
God of War - E3 2017 Gameplay Trailer (Official)
It was a long shot that we would ever see God of War on PC, but it’s not only available on PC, it’s Deck Verified, too. This cinematic reboot catches up with Kratos years after the original trilogy, and it succeeds in creating an experience that goes well beyond hacking and slashing. Enhanced for PC, God of War is extremely demanding, so don’t expect top-tier visuals and performance on the Steam Deck. If you follow our God of War PC performance guide, though, you can optimize your game for Valve’s handheld.
Persona 4 Golden
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation Vita
Unless you have a PlayStation Vita kicking around, the only way to play Persona 4 Goldenon the go is with the Steam Deck. It’s one of the best JRPGs ever made, combining the series’ signature life sim mechanics with procedurally generated dungeons and an enthralling narrative that will keep you entertained for around 100 hours. The Steam version comes with additional graphics options, including higher frame rates and resolutions, and the Steam Deck is more than capable of taking advantage of both. If you haven’t played Persona 4 Golden, the Steam Deck is the perfect platform to start. And if you have, Valve’s handheld gives you a reason to revisit one of the best RPGs of all time.
Noitais a lot like Valheim: A PC gem that unfortunately hasn’t made its way to consoles. It’s a procedurally generated roguelike game, but it’s not just another platformer. In Noita, you track down spells that you can combine to create unique magical abilities. Every pixel in the game is physically simulated, too, turning your spells into devastating weapons that literally shape the world around you. It’s a roguelike, but instead of mastering mechanics to make it further along, Noita gives you a unique sandbox to play on each run. It’s the perfect format for the Steam Deck, allowing you to jump in and mess around for a few spare minutes or go deep on crafting your inventory for a perfect run.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Role-playing (RPG), Hack and slash/Beat 'em up, Adventure
Ryū Ga Gotoku Studios
January 16, 2020
Yakuza: Like a Dragonis a game you can get lost in on the Steam Deck. Several Yakuza titles are Deck Verified, but Like a Dragon is the best. It flips the series format on its head, going with turn-based combat and a traditional JRPG progression system. It takes notes from Persona, too, introducing bonds with your other party members that can give you advantages in battle. That doesn’t mean the usual Yakuza flare is lost. Like a Dragon is still silly as can be, and it packs in dozens of minigames to keep you entertained between story beats. Download Yakuza: Like a Dragon on your Steam Deck, and it might be the only game you play for a month or more.
Counter-Strike 2 will drop as a free CS:GO update this summer
Valve has officially announced Counter-Strike 2 and detailed many of the new systems that will be a part of this free Source 2 upgrade to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Those eager to play will either have to get a Limited Test invite from Valve or wait until it launches this summer.
Following several leaks throughout March, Valve announced Counter-Strike 2 today and released three videos highlighting some of the new features that build upon the gameplay that still looks very much like Counter-Strike should. First, smoke grenades have been overhauled to be more dynamic. Smoke will interact and change shape depending on the environment around it, and all players see the smoke in the same position. Valve has also adjusted the tick rate of the game, so Counter-Strike 2 will more accurately respond to how players move and shoot. Players will also be able to bring over their entire Global Offensive inventory into Counter-Strike 2.
This next evolution of the Counter-Strike formula is built on Valve's newer Source 2 game engine, and it looks great. This is best seen in Counter-Strike 2's maps, which fall into three different tiers. Touchstone maps are classic ones that have only seen updates to lighting, Upgraded maps are ones that game a significant visual touch-up to benefit from Source 2's physically-based rendering system, and Overhaul maps have been thoroughly redesigned by Valve. Valve also promises to give the tools that let them build these maps to mod-makers so they can create beautiful-looking mods for Counter-Strike 2.
Counter-Strike 2: Leveling Up The World
We first caught wind of Counter-Strike 2's existence earlier this month when a Game Profile for it showed up in the code of an Nvidia Driver update. This was followed up by a report from Richard Lewis, who teased an impending announcement and the confirmed tick rate changes. Now, we know this massive Global Offensive upgrade is real and are waiting to play it. Limited Tests will be held before the game's release, but Valve will choose who gets to try the game early and will send an invite to those players in-game in Global Offensive.
Counter-Strike 2 will be released for PC this summer.
Diablo IV’s always-online play threatens an otherwise killer time
The always-online Diablo IV is right around the corner. I had an enjoyable time exploring the setting of Act 1, the eerie Fractured Peaks zone that’s heavily inspired by northeastern Europe, while going hands-on with the game's open beta. It all worked well when the servers didn’t completely break down, forcing me to wait in a queue. Its always-online sensibilities are definitely a bold move for the series – which has traditionally fashioned itself as an action RPG with both offline and online features.
Once expected beta server issues were resolved, I got some insight into how this massive beast of an online role-playing game will likely function when the servers finally go live in June. I still agree with the healthy room for concern outlined in Digital Trends' previous Diablo IV preview, but Diablo IV is as challenging and grounded as Diablo 2 and as dynamic and speedy as Diablo 3. A captivating story that goes heavier on its own themes than past installments gives a strong reason for its sprawling open world, and its hefty combat offers a balanced mix of challenge and brain-tingling action that drew me in.