I played 150 Hours of Elden Ring on the Steam Deck and loved it

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I know Steam Deck is great because it allowed me to do something I never would have had time for otherwise: I beat Elden Ring. After 155 hours – including 150 on the Steam Deck – I became Lord Elden. And I mean it when I say that Valve’s handheld is what made me experience one of the best games of recent years.

As much as I love games, I don’t like anchoring myself to a sofa or computer chair. Even indoors, I prefer to move to get involved in what’s going on. It usually means being with my children or being with my wife while she watches a show. That’s why Switch is so great to me. But the Switch is limited in both support and power when it comes to its library. Steam Deck, meanwhile, is an improvement in both respects.

I’ve covered a lot of this in my review and previous Steam Deck coverage. But now I’m more certain the system achieves what Valve set out to achieve with it. The device allows PC games to exist in the hidden corners of your life instead of forcing you to adapt your life to PC games. And it does this through its powerful yet efficient hardware, but it also does so through intelligent user experience features.

Always ready when and wherever you are

AMD’s powerful system-on-chip and powerful Proton translation level are the main reasons for the success of Steam Deck. But Valve also got the little things right.

These little things include a smart sleep mode that lets you stop playing on a whim. When you are ready to continue, the system picks up where you left off. And all the while, this sleep feature barely uses the battery.

This translates in the real world to the fact that it only took me a few seconds to get back to the Elden Ring every time I put it down. And that might not seem like a big deal, but it absolutely helped me keep my momentum with such a massive and challenging game.

Valve can get away with it because although the Steam Deck is a computer, it is primarily a portable gaming device. So while you can toggle between other apps, it’s very important to center active play over everything else.

Small annoyances worth addressing

My problems with using Steam Deck so far are minor and rarely interfere with my enjoyment. Elden Ring, in particular, is very power-hungry. It’s fun to see that the system’s built-in power meter regularly exceeds 25 watts while gaming, especially when you’re playing something like the GameCube emulator which only draws 6 watts. And this is with the increased brightness and volume.

But battery life isn’t the concern many believe it to be. The problem, however, is charging the device. Since I carry it around the house with me, I often try to get some juice from a nearby USB-C charger. But most common smartphone and even laptop chargers don’t provide enough power to meet Steam Deck needs.

Now, if you use the official charger and a handful of others (like a recent Qualcomm Quick Charge 5.0 brick), you can get a fully charged battery in about 1.5 hours. This is true even if you continue to play with the system. But my Steam Deck would continue to drain while playing even when connected to other chargers.

The Steam Deck also has a clunky shape, which makes it precarious to put down. Its large size means you’ll need a significant amount of counter space if you rush to the kitchen to make popcorn for the kids. But even if you have the space, check that it’s safe. I had a close call where I put it down only to have to catch it a second later in the air when one of the handles slipped over the edge.

Still my favorite gaming PC

I meant it seriously when I said the Steam Deck was my favorite gaming PC in my review. It’s not the way you should pay taxes, but it’s the perfect way to play. But Elden Ring has provided real proof of that claim. But 150 hours later, I’m not going to change my habits. This is how I will play my games whenever I can.

I have already started Tunica. Works and looks great on deck. Maybe I’ll take Stranger of Paradise later. To me, it feels like a game that goes out of its way to make sure you don’t get left behind. I can’t tell you how good it is.

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