Skip to main content

Hades 2 shows the Steam Deck’s biggest advantage over the Nintendo Switch

Art for Nemesis in hades 2.
Supergiant Games

It’s always an exciting week when the sequel to one of the greatest games of all time surprise releases on a Monday. That’s what happened on May 6 when Hades 2 surprise launched into early access. Players are already diving into the surprisingly robust roguelike, testing their might in its new biomes. I’ve been enjoying it myself from the comfort of my couch — and not on my Nintendo Switch, where I played the first Hades. Instead, I’m curled up with my Steam Deck.

The PC-only launch means that Hades 2 is a Steam Deck “exclusive” for the time being (or at least exclusive to portable PCs like it and the Asus ROG Ally). It’ll likely come to Nintendo’s system — or its predecessor — once it hits 1.0, but developer Supergiant doesn’t expect its game to leave early access until at least the end of 2024. Until then, you’ll need a device like the Steam Deck to play it on the go. That’s a reminder that Valve has beaten the Switch at its own game, and Nintendo will have to get creative again with its next system to regain its throne.

Early access on the go

Based on my time with it so far, Hades 2 is a phenomenal match for the Steam Deck. It’s already Verified for the platform, and for good reason. It looks fantastic (especially on an OLED screen) and runs smoothly. I’ve already taken it on the go and found that it’s not a huge drain on the Steam Deck’s battery. At this point, I don’t imagine I’ll need to play it any other way.

That’s sad news for my Nintendo Switch, where I played over 100 hours of the first Hades when it hit the platform at its 1.0 launch. The Steam Deck was still years away at that point, so the ability to play Hades on-the-go made Switch the best platform for it. But Hades 2 is launching in an entirely new context, one where playing a game portably isn’t as much of a novelty. Steam Deck was always going to be stronger option for players deciding where to buy it thanks to its better specs and cross-save potential with PC. The Switch wasn’t going to be able to compete with that.

Valve really got to flex its system’s power here, though, thanks to Hades 2‘s early access release. For the rest of the year, it’s likely that you’ll only be able to play it on PC. That’s often the case with lots of early access games, which start as PC exclusive and launch elsewhere at 1.0. It’s usually why I tend to wait until full release so I can have less restrictions on how I play. Since its launch, the Steam Deck has always gotten to claim its compatibility with PC early access games as a win, but I can see the full extent of that power with Hades 2. If the Steam Deck wasn’t already a must-own device, it is now.

A Steam Deck, Asus ROG Ally, and Nintendo Switch OLED sit on a table.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Granted, portable PCs like the Steam Deck still aren’t perfect in this regard. While major releases like Hades 2 are perfectly optimized for handhelds, that’s not the case for every game. The recently released No Rest for the Wicked runs poorly on Valve’s console per our testing. You might be tempted to try it there, but it’s ill-advised. The sticking point with the device has always been that just because you can run a game on it doesn’t mean you should. Hades 2 is a special case, but it’s still a model of the system’s potential.

None of this is a knock against the aging Switch. The selling point of Nintendo’s platform is still its top-notch exclusives and easy of use. Neither of those are going away anytime soon. Hades 2 does, however, create an interesting moment ahead of Nintendo’s next system, which is rumored to launch in 2025. If the company simply releases a souped up Switch that matches the Steam Deck in power, it’ll still struggle to reach the high ground over portable PCs. Nintendo’s next system will need some extra creativity to cover its gaps.

Until then, games like Hades 2 continue to prove why the Steam Deck is such a special piece of tech. It expands on Nintendo’s billion-dollar concept by giving players even more flexibility in how they access their games. Even if the Switch 2 winds up being a surprise tech powerhouse, it’ll take a lot to make me abandon my Hades 2 playthrough on Steam Deck now that it has its hooks in me.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
I turned my Steam Deck into the ultimate cross-platform gaming machine
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth running on the Steam Deck.

I've been playing a lot of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, which, as a self-proclaimed PC gaming snob, would have presented a problem for me in the past. After all, a console exclusive like Rebirth just doesn't fit into my typical pattern of gaming, which oscillates between desktop at home and Steam Deck on the go.

But I've found a solution, opening up the world of third-party apps and breaking the mold for the Steam Deck. It's allowed me to game far beyond my Steam library, revealing the immense versatility that is latent in the Steam Deck's design.
Streaming your PS5

Read more
An AI company may have just leaked the Nintendo Switch 2’s name and release month
An image of the Nintendo Switch - OLED Model Mario Red Edition.

As part of the ongoing wave of AI-related news at CES 2024, Altec Lansing revealed an artificial intelligence-powered successor to GameShark called AI Shark. More interestingly, the press release regarding this software claims that the Nintendo Switch 2 will launch in September 2024.

"Formerly known as GameShark, AI Shark is set to redefine the gaming landscape with its revolutionary AI-enhanced technology," Altec Lansing explains in a press release. "The innovative gaming software is set to mark a significant leap forward in the gaming experience, bringing enhanced gameplay for beginner-level users. The official launch is planned to coincide with the Nintendo Switch 2 in September 2024."

Read more
If I’m not supposed to smell the Steam Deck vents, why do they smell so good?
Someone smelling the fumes from the Steam Deck.

Candles? No. Potpourri? Not for me. Essential oils? They aren't that essential. The only thing that can soothe my olfaction is the sweet smell of the Steam Deck vents. It's the smell of burning plastic, the sweet and honey-like aroma of ozone, and the sense of dead brain cells.

But now, here's Valve saying I shouldn't smell my Steam Deck vents. Steam support is saying to "please refrain from this behavior for the safety of your health." That's even after Steam support told Reddit user Metapod100 that it "understands that it may be a meme." I guess you shouldn't smell your Steam Deck vents, at least if you want to follow Valve's official guidance.

Read more