The air is buzzing with questions about Valve’s handheld gaming device, the Steam Deck, and its ability to run Bethesda’s eagerly-awaited RPG, Starfield, come launch day. The ambiguity stemmed from a recent interview with Bethesda Game Studios’ director and executive producer, Todd Howard, where he vaguely suggested that conversations about the game’s performance on the Deck would emerge “down the road.”
Steam Deck’s Tech Capabilities: A Snag for Starfield?
While this tepid discussion isn’t brimming with optimism about Starfield’s debut on the Deck, it hasn’t quite extinguished hopes of gamers eager to traverse the universe with their handheld device. Sure, the Steam Deck might not wear the crown of ‘most powerful gaming handheld’ anymore (that honour now goes to Asus ROG Ally), but Valve’s persistent efforts have seen encouraging results, hinting at a feasible solution to this predicament.
Starfield’s performance at 30 FPS on Xbox Series consoles throws a dim, yet expected light on the situation. The game appears to be a CPU guzzler, leaning heavily on processing power to render its vast open world and signature Bethesda features such as object permanence. This presents a bit of a snag for the Steam Deck, which prioritises its GPU over its slightly underwhelming CPU. While this model has worked a charm for most games, Howard’s statement insinuates a potential hiccup with Starfield. Still, the fact that he didn’t outright dismiss the Deck may well be a silver lining.
Given that Starfield is equivalent to “five or six” games rolled into one, it’s not a stretch to speculate that it might be a tall order to achieve playable frame rates on the Deck. Howard’s remarks leave room for interpretation, yet there’s a possibility that Bethesda could throw their weight behind Deck support post-launch. It was revealed recently that microtransactions would be included in the space title, which didn’t go down well in the gaming community.
Drawing Parallels: Xbox Series S and the Steam Deck
Interestingly, Todd Howard himself enjoys Starfield on the Xbox Series S, the least powerful gaming device of this generation. While juxtaposing the Series S with the Deck isn’t an apple-to-apple comparison, it does hint at the game’s scalability to some degree. Ultimately, CPU performance will be a deciding factor, but the Deck may well hold its own.
There’s no two ways about it, Starfield is a huge deal for Xbox, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they dug deep to optimise the game across all modern gaming systems, much like they did with Skyrim. This could well extend to the Steam Deck. Even if official support doesn’t materialise, the robust modding community will likely conjure up a workaround.
The space saga, Starfield, is set to embark on its journey on September 6th for PC and Xbox Series X/S.
Source – PCGamer
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