When I got my review code for the PC version of Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, I was about to leave for a weeklong vacation. Normally, that would be bad news. With no gaming laptop, I’d have to wait until I got back home to test it out, before rushing out some impressions in a few days. But that wasn’t the case this time. In fact, the timing couldn’t have been better … thanks to my Steam Deck.
While the PC version of Insomniac’s hit superhero game comes with a list of flashy improvements, its Steam Deck verification status is the most exciting one. That meant that I could take a supersized open-world game on the go and casually poke away at it for minutes at a time, rather than sitting at my PS5 or PC for long sessions.
As it turns out, that’s the best way to play it — even if it means sacrificing some power to do so. While Marvel’s Spider-Man isn’t the first Sony game to hit Steam Deck by way of PC port, it reaffirms that this current era of flexible gaming is an especially perfect fit for Sony’s brand of big-budget open-world extravaganza. For the first time in years, I’m more excited for that brand of game than I am exhausted.
There’s a reason I’m more focused on how Spider-Man runs on Steam Deck instead of a powerful PC. Frankly, my PS5 already is a powerful PC. Sure, the PC version brings new features like ultrawide monitor compatibility and Nvidia DLSS support, but I don’t think most players who experienced it on PS5 will notice much of a difference even with the boosts. It would have been a more notable feat had the 2018 game not gotten polished for PS5 previously.
Rather than replaying the game at my rig, I decided to spend more time with it in a portable setting. I kicked back on a recliner at a beach house and started picking away at it while I had some wrestling on TV in the background. Within an hour, I found myself wishing that it’s how I could have experienced it for the first time.
Spider-Man is especially a great fit for portable devices thanks to its checklist-like approach to open-world activities. Players can swing into the game’s version of New York for 10 minutes and get a fair amount done. Stop a crime or two, locate a hidden backpack, or even just swing around for the thrill of it. As games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey have shown, the best portable games are ones where you can pop in for a few minutes and feel like you’ve accomplished something, but still have those more involved moments where you want to hunker down and bring it up on a TV.
That’s exactly how the original 2018 Spider-Man game functions. The cinematic opening fight against Kingpin is probably best enjoyed on a stable PC environment running at a smooth frame rate. But as New York City becomes Peter Parker’s playground, it’s the perfect time to sync your cloud save to your Steam Deck and complete those little in-between tasks on the go, rather than obsessively jumping from map marker to map marker in a multihour sitting.
Naturally, there’s a trade-off to that experience. While the game runs exceptionally well on Steam Deck, it’s not exactly a performance powerhouse there. The frame rate is a little all over the place. It seemed like the average got up to around 45 frames per second, which is lower than the consistent 60 fps you could get on a great PC.
Personally, I was more than happy with that trade-off here. It was worth it to be able to play a high-quality open-world game like this while on vacation. I was able to engage with the game at a much different pace than I did initially, poking away at side activities like I would with a mobile game that I fire up for a few minutes here and there. I could see myself enjoying a game like Horizon Forbidden West more in that setting, saving activities like its Strike minigame as a fun thing to pick at during a commute rather than while glued to my couch.
I hope Sony continues to get its games on PC at a faster pace. I want to play a game like the upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 in a more flexible way that isn’t reliant on a good internet connection. In 2022, I don’t just want to put a game I’m into down just because I’m out of town for a week. Sony doesn’t even have to produce the hardware to make that happen. Just drop a port and let Valve handle the rest.
Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered will launch on PC on August 12.
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