SteamWorld Build was provided by Thunderful Publishing for review. Thank you!

This game was tested with a Steam Deck LCD. OLED testing is coming soon.

I hadn't had much experience with the SteamWorld franchise before reviewing this game besides playing SteamWorld Dig on the PlayStation Vita many years ago. As it turns out, playing SteamWorld Dig did not prepare me in any way for SteamWorld Build, because whereas "Dig" is a 2D platforming adventure, "Build" is a 3D city builder. And I love city builders!

The game challenges players to build a functioning economy in the desert

SteamWorld Build takes many cues from other games in the city-building genre, namely the Anno series. It has the same citizen "class" mechanic as Anno, where you start with Workers with fairly basic needs. Once those basic needs are fulfilled, you can upgrade them to Engineers, with more complex needs requiring more production lines and economical management, and you can keep upgrading them further. It also uses an identical "warehouse and road" system as Anno, where your warehouses will store all your economic goods, and production buildings need access to one to work.

As you upgrade your citizens, new buildings and production lines will unlock, creating a satisfying loop with rewards of new opportunities and the ability to progress further to create more complex production lines.

One of the first production lines you'll tackle in SteamWorld Build is logging.

It's not just the surface you need to worry about in SteamWorld Build, as you must watch out for the underground. As you might expect with a SteamWorld game, mining plays a large part in the economy. This means you will have a complete underground section of the game, utilizing miners, prospectors, and mechanics to excavate and harvest any resources your town may need.

The transition between the surface and the mines is seamless, and it's a cool addition to the game. Creating your mine network is both satisfying and rewarding.

A lot of the game takes place underground, where enemy threats and resources await

Speaking of "satisfying" and "rewarding," those two words sum up my time with SteamWorld Build. It's a game that rewards the effort you put into it, and the rewards you receive are suitably satisfying. The constant unlocking of new production lines and economic requirements keeps you trying out new things and forces you to push the limits of your logistical network. The visuals are both pleasing and charming despite the world being in a desert that could often be seen as a bland environment.

SteamWorld Build - Steam Deck Performance

My first impressions of SteamWorld Build are good. The game boots with a 16:10 resolution, 1280x800 to be precise, and you can fully navigate the menus with a controller.

In the game itself, the controls are just as good. Rather than making you use a touchpad to move a cursor around the screen, you instead use the "X" button to switch between managing UI elements and "cursor" mode, where the cursor is locked to the middle of the screen, and you can move the camera with the analog stick to select buildings. This works well and is much more preferable than using a touchpad to move a cursor around the screen.

There are also a few UI scaling options for tooltips and more. I recommend sliding all of the "scale" options to the max, as that makes them perfectly readable on the Deck's display, and they still don't take up an obnoxious amount of space on the max either.

We don't have too many graphical options to choose from, but there are a few, and they do offer some scalability, so I have two different preset settings that you can choose from, depending on your preference.

Recommended Settings - 30 FPS

First, we'll set a 30 FPS / 60Hz lock in our SteamOS settings, then put a 7W TDP limit on. This 7W Limit holds a pretty constant 30 FPS for us, and we get to set some pretty nice visuals because of the lower framerate.

For these settings, we keep our resolution at 1280x800, turn off V-Sync, and set our Shadow Quality, Texture Quality, Bloom Effect, and Ambient Occlusion all to "High." I'm disabling Motion Blur and Depth of Field out of personal preference, and it also saves some performance. Enable Soft Particles and keep Lod Quality at 50%.


This creates a nice-looking game, with the bloom effect looking especially nice when all the lights on the buildings are lit up. Plus, with our low TDP limit, we still get a decent battery life of just over 3 hours. I can't complain about that!

Framerate Settings - 60 FPS

Given the slower-paced nature of this game, I'm recommending the 30 FPS settings that save battery life and allow higher visual quality, but if you're all about that smooth life, here's how you can achieve it.

First set a 60 FPS/Hz lock in SteamOS, and set a TDP Limit of 10W.

We're keeping our resolution at 1280x800, disabling V-Sync, setting Shadow Quality to "Off", Texture Quality to "High", Bloom Effect and Ambient Occlusion to "Off". We're then disabling Motion Blur, Depth of Field, and Soft Particles, and we're keeping Lod Quality at 50%.


We can just about hold 60 FPS in a fairly large city using these settings. In my experience, FPS increases when underground, so if your city runs well, your underground areas should be fine. Our battery life does take a hit for trying to hold 60 FPS, though, and you shouldn't expect much more than 2 hours out of a full charge.


SteamWorld Build has an accessibility menu that has a few options for you. It allows the disabling of screen shaking, changing between Xbox and PlayStation buttons, camera movement speed, and the UI scaling settings that we recommend you set to 100% for Steam Deck. You can see how I had my settings set below.



SteamWorld Build doesn't revolutionize the City-Builder genre, but it does put another feather in its cap. This isn't the best game in the genre, but it's worth checking out if you want a city builder that's perhaps not as complex as Anno or as performance-intensive as Cities Skylines. This game is a treat to play on the Deck. The controls work well, the graphics look good, and the gameplay loop is satisfying.

As of writing this review, it holds "Mostly Positive" user reviews on Steam and has a Steam Deck compatibility rating of "Playable". The only reason it isn't "Verified" is because of small in-game text. However, I think the text is pretty readable with the UI scaling set to 100%.

So, if you're looking for a city builder to sit back and relax with on the Deck, give SteamWorld Build a spot on your list!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety of game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back.

RAILGRADE was provided by the publisher for review. Thank you!

I haven't played many Logistics management games recently, but I fondly remember Transport Tycoon in the 90s. Sadly, the genre seems to have slipped into a bit of a lull since the early 00s. Fortunately, RAILGRADE is here to bring back some of that logistical goodness, and I couldn't be happier.


You're greeted with a rather surprising electronic soundtrack when first booting the game. It fits the theme of greasy/oily trains working hard, and although I was surprised, I quite enjoyed the energetic music encouraging me to build the best rail network the land has ever seen.

RAILGRADE runs on tried-and-true gameplay mechanics, conforming to a simple supply and demand system, with a few changes here and there. A basic example of this is the Oil production chain. Oil Wells produce Oil, which should then be taken to an Oil Power Plant. The Power Plant will then produce Energy, which can be taken to the "Zeppelin" and exported for money. While this is a standard loop for this type of game, RAILGRADE switches it up with Catalysts and Upgrades.

Catalysts are secondary goods that industries can provide to boost their performance. For example, Oil Wells and Oil Power Plants can deliver Water to them. This isn't necessary for them to run, but if you supply them with water, they'll work faster and produce more resources. Upgrades can be obtained by paying in-game money to improve an industry's production and storage capacity, meaning it can supply more or larger trains. These spiced up the experience and made it feel much more unique with my playthroughs.


The game also features a "voucher" system. Vouchers are rewards for doing well in the game's missions. Each mission has a ranking system from C to S. Getting a good rank means you get rewarded with vouchers, which can be exchanged for new train engines, new industry upgrades, new songs, and more! The exciting progression offers new ways to create a better rail network. You can also replay missions, giving you another chance to craft a better track and a higher score.

I had a great time playing RAILGRADE, and it's a competent management experience. And with more updates promised by the developer, the game will keep giving in the future!

RAILGRADE - Steam Deck Performance

RAILGRADE runs and looks excellent on the Steam Deck. Even on low settings, the game looks appealing and returns fantastic battery life results. We can reach 60 FPS on higher settings if we run at a higher TDP and sacrifice some battery life.

The menu layout is simple and practically designed for a gamepad, and the controls work beautifully with the Deck; you shouldn't have any trouble controlling the game with the default controls.

16:10 resolutions are also supported, so there are no black bars for you to worry about above and below the screen. We can change many graphics settings and scale the UI, although I found the default UI scale to be just fine for the Deck's display.

Recommended Settings - 40 FPS

RAILGRADE is a strategy game where 60 FPS isn't strictly necessary to have a good time. 40 FPS is a perfect target to aim for, and in my experience, I barely noticed the lower framerate when playing.

This means we can save some battery life, but first, we'll need to drop settings down to compensate. We'll want everything on the low setting except Texture Quality, which we'll keep at Supreme.


In SteamOS, you'll want to set a refresh rate and Frame Lock of 40FPS/Hz. We can lower our TDP down to 5W now, which gives us a significant saving on battery life for not much visual sacrifice, in my opinion.

I much prefer to lose the graphical niceties and drop to 40 FPS to gain close to 2 extra hours of battery life. With these settings, you can run the game for around 4 hours.

Performance Settings - 60 FPS

Since the game isn't too demanding of a title, we can avoid having pretty high settings while maintaining 60 FPS. We don't even need to hammer the battery that hard. Here, we're disabling Dynamic Resolution, Enabling VSync, Disabling the in-game FPS cap, and setting AA to Low and Terrain Detail to 0x0. Everything else should be set to Supreme quality. Here's an image for you to copy the settings if you wish.


You'll also want to put a Frame Rate limit of 60 in SteamOS and a TDP Limit of 10W.

With these settings, we get a good-looking game, and we can still hit 60 FPS most of the time, with occasional dips to 57 or 58 FPS if we zoom out and spin the map. I expect around 2 and a half hours of battery life at these settings, which is pretty good.


There are a couple of excellent accessibility features included in the game. You can adjust the UI Scale between 70-150%. However, I found 100% to be just fine on the Steam Deck, with the UI already being a pretty generous size. You can also disable the Day/Night effect, which may help some people with impaired vision. We also have a streamer mode for disabling copyrighted music and remappable controls, although the preset controls worked well for me.


RAILGRADE is a fantastic little strategy game. The story mode is enjoyable, with a great progression system. I would have loved to select an environment type and generate a random map with a few customizable settings, and a free-play mode would be great. Still, the developer has stated they plan to add a sandbox mode to the game with procedurally generated maps. There are no details on when this will be.

The gameplay loop in RAILGRADE is satisfying, allowing you to gradually unlock better and more capable trains, improve your facilities/industries, and keep aiming for that best rank on each mission. It's all about creating efficient rail networks; if you have the mind for it, it will be a blast. The missions feel designed so that achieving the best rank on the first try will be difficult, encouraging you to go back with better trains and aim for that high score... or maybe I'm just not very good at it? Who's to say? Regardless, sitting back and seeing your complicated rail network just work is a great feeling.

Ultimately, this is a solid game and one well worth checking out if you like logistics management games, and it runs great on the Deck!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety of game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back.

Old World was provided by Hooded Horse for review. Thank you!

Some of the most popular strategy games in the PC space are of the 4X genre, which stands for eXplore, eXpand, eXploit & eXterminate. These were the principles that many popular strategy games rely on, such as Sid Meier's Civilization and Humankind, all of which take place on a hexagonal-grid map. Old World is no different. The game was released on Steam last year, but the support is ongoing! It has even got a new DLC, adding Egypt as an empire to select. As a strategy fan, I was so excited to check it out, and I am glad I did.

OldWorldStock1 1

While on the surface, Old World may look like another Civilization clone, and the base game mechanics function very similarly, it has a few tricks up its sleeve that help separate it from the 4X pack.

While Civilization is a fairly straightforward strategy game, largely relying on managing the economy and military, Old World goes deeper. It presents choices you can make during your reign to influence your empire. You'll be familiar with these choices if you've played Crusader Kings, Stellaris, or other games in that ilk. For example, you can choose who to marry and how you might respond to certain happenings in your empire; you can set "ambitions" for yourself, giving you a target you must aim for. These elements give you bonuses (or penalties) depending on your choice. This adds another layer to the game and helps break up what sometimes could feel like a monotonous experience.


The economy also has some depth to it, requiring you to control workers and cut down forests or mine quarries to expand your cities. This makes the world feel somewhat interactive and dynamic, rather than just placing a building in a spot and forgetting about it.

In single-player, you can play a game on a randomly generated map or in the historical scenarios that the game offers, featuring famous battles and empires from bygone years. In multiplayer, you can play via hot-seat, LAN, online multiplayer, or through the cloud in asynchronous play, which is similar to mobile games or the old "Play-By-Email" that Civilization games used to offer. AI is also supported in multiplayer.

And for the most part, playing Old World on the Steam Deck is possible and enjoyable!

Old World - Steam Deck Performance

While Old World doesn't support controllers, there is a preset controller layout for Steam Decks, and this works just fine in my experience. You can navigate the menus with the touchpad and use the analog and face buttons to do most of the in-game actions.

1280x800 is a supported resolution so we can play without black bars. We also have UI scaling in the "Accessibility" menu in Options, which lets you change the UI from tiny to unusably large so you can find the right scale for you.

Recommended Settings - 40 FPS

In my experience, the graphics don't seem to change much in Old World with the different settings options. Upgrading the "Render Quality" setting adds shadows to the units, and terrain quality adds some extra detail to the tiles, but once you do that, you introduce quite a bit of slowdown. The other settings might be visible on a larger screen, but on the Steam Deck, you just can't see any minor details they might add.

Because of this, I'm recommending that you keep the settings as shown in the following screenshot with a refresh rate of 40hz and a TDP Limit of 10W.

Click to enlarge the image

This produces fairly clean and nice-looking visuals while allowing you to maintain 40FPS and an OK battery life of just over 2 hours. Sadly, we can't do much else to improve the battery life, as the game is largely CPU-bound. Lowering the TDP further introduces somewhat annoying stuttering. If you can live with that, by all means, you can lower the TDP to perhaps 6W - 7W and maintain 30FPS. However, the stuttering will be fairly constant.

Regardless of what you decide, one setting that is an absolute MUST is setting the Fog of War (FOW) quality to Low. The visual difference is negligible, but there is a huge performance hit associated with the Fog of War on an unexplored world, and the Low setting largely eliminates the performance losses.


Old World offers a few accessibility options, like the aforementioned UI scale, which is very useful for handheld users. There is also a colorblind filter, scaling for the font size of pop-up text, the ability to disable the scrolling background on the main menu, and the ability to remove flashing effects in the Fog of War.

The game does support 16:10 resolutions like 1280x800, so it won't have any black bars, and it does support cloud saves. Unfortunately, there is no native controller support, but there is a controller preset that works well automatically selected.


As someone who has played every Civilization game since the first release, I enjoyed the new elements that Old World has brought to the table. I love that the game took elements from larger-scale strategy games and integrated them into the 4X formula. This additional layer of depth helps you keep focused on the game, and there are a few other differences that help its replayability. If you're into strategy games and want a new one to play on your Steam Deck, give Old World a look!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety of game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back!

Highrise City was provided by Deck13 for review. Thank you!

A brand new city builder has just been released on Steam, after a lengthy period of early access. Highrise City hopes to bring something new to the city-building genre by introducing more of the "economy" side of things, somewhat like the Anno games. So let's check it out, shall we?

Regarding city builders, Highrise City keeps most of the basics you're familiar with. You have to provide power, water, health services, fire, and police protection to your citizens. If you've played Cities Skylines or any of the Sim City games, you'll know how this works.


The game starts off fairly gently and introduces you to a few basic production lines, as well as the usual basics of a city builder, like your Residential, Commercial, and Industrial buildings. It soon ramps up, with more demands and requiring more complex planning needed. This is pretty much when things started to go wrong, as I encountered the issue with buildings disconnecting and reconnecting to utilities.

One area where Highrise City does step outside the convention is that you must harvest and process resources. For example, you need to provide planks to place zones for residential areas. This means you need to have a logging camp and a sawmill constructed so you can produce building materials. This provides a nice added level of depth and a greater variety of buildings than other city builders. I did have some issues with the power and water network system, though. Even when things seemed to be constructed correctly, there were still complaints from buildings about not being connected to the grid, which then disappeared and reappeared constantly, I'm unsure what caused this to happen, but it caused quite a bit of confusion.

There are no scenarios in the game, so you're just stuck with the sandbox mode where you build a city with the resources/funds you have, but you have the choice between multiple different maps. Usually, Sandbox is the mode I expect in a city-builder like this.

Interestingly, the game also has a "Building Editor", which allows you to create custom buildings that can appear in your city. This mostly seems to consist of placing pre-made buildings together in order to make a new one. However, there are smaller individual pieces you can place to create a new building. It isn't super user-friendly, especially when using a Steam Deck, so unless you really want to, I don't recommend trying to make entirely new buildings. Regardless, it is a cool feature to have if you can stomach it.

Highrise City - Steam Deck Performance

Unfortunately, things are a bit rocky as soon as we start the game. We get asked to install some "Unreal Engine 4 Prerequisites". Basically Visual C++ things. This is a Windows interface, and we must use the touchscreen to get through this installation.

Once we get to the main menu, we get a warning pop-up to say that we don't have enough RAM and larger cities may cause instability and crashes. While the Steam Deck has Highrise City's 16GB of RAM requirement, we do have an integrated GPU, so we have to share some of that RAM, meaning we don't have 16GB freely available, which the game desires.

I tried running with the UMA Buffer set to 1G and 4G, as well as using CryoUtilities, but performance remained unchanged, and I wasn't able to hold 30FPS in a larger city.

We also have no resolution settings in the game, but, the game will run at a 16:10 aspect ratio. We actually have to use a Resolution Scale slider to determine our actual resolution, as a percentage of 1280x800. There is a UI scale option, which I set to 110% to make some text and icons a little easier to read on the Steam Deck's display.


The Settings

Barely Playable - 20 FPS

Sadly, Highrise City is an absolute killer on CPUs. There are reports of Ryzen 9's running at 90C to cope with the game, and we can confirm that all 8 of the Steam Deck's CPU threads will max to 100% when moving around a medium-sized city. The GPU also struggles to maintain 30FPS, possibly because the CPU takes so much of the available wattage.

Essentially, I set everything as low as I could, except resolution, which we kept at what is presumably 1280x800 (the game has no resolution select). Ticking the "Very Low Video Quality" tickbox did not help the situation either.

Because of how much the Deck struggles with this game, to get any semblance of a smooth experience, we recommend you lower the Refresh Rate to 40 and then the Frame Rate Limit to 20 in your SteamOS settings. The game will still experience drops as the city grows, but you will hold 20 a fair amount of the time.

Controller Layout

The default controls aren't ideal, as there is no way to rotate the camera. You can find a community layout made by SDHQ on Steam. This lets you control the camera with the right analog and close windows with the B button.

Highrise City Controller Layout

I also experienced crashes, once when entering the Editor from the main menu and another time when editing the power lines in my small city, and consistent crashes when loading a large city, likely due to RAM constraints. There are also reports of crashing on Desktop computers, so it may be a more widespread problem than just on Deck.


There isn't much in the way of accessibility in Highrise City, but as a city builder, there's probably not too much that you need accessibility for. You have options to increase and decrease the size of various UI elements, including the UI as a whole, so this should help those with poor eyesight or who perhaps struggle to click on smaller buttons.

You also can turn on and off icons, adjust auto-savegames and interval, speed up some animations, change size of symbols, change different audio sliders, and configure camera zoom, step count, and sensitivity.


Ultimately, I feel Highrise City is a really fun game. It brings something new to the table with its resource production system, which can add extra depth to the genre. But the seeming lack of optimization hurts the game, especially on the Steam Deck, where the experience once you reach the mid-game begins to lose its joy due to the poor performance.

I'd have to say that Steam Deck owners might want to avoid this one.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety of game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back!

Xenonauts 2 was provided by Hooded Horse for review. Thank you! The game is in early access and could change massively throughout development. This review is strictly regarding the initial early access release.

Aliens are invading and it is up to you to defend Earth and resist the invaders. Xenonauts 2 puts you in the role of a commander who sets up covert bases throughout the world and takes on invaders from another planet. Customize your bases, outfit your aircrafts, research new technologies, and recruit/train your soldiers to get them ready for turn-based battles where a wrong move could mean the death of your units. Your foe may be stronger and more technologically advanced, but with your control and the right decisions, you can be victorious.

I have been playing a chunk of turn-based strategy games like Xenonauts 2 lately, but the intricacies of the base building, along with aircraft customization and soldier outfitting, make this game feel a couple steps ahead. I love the amount of customization and control I have over my buildings and units, it makes me a bit excited to dive in and really take the time. I also like how my choices really feel like they make a difference, making me really think about what guns my units had, balancing it out, and what research I went into next.

This is not a forgiving game either. Yes it does have a lot of auto saves and you can go back, but one wrong move that puts a unit in crosshairs accidentally can kill them. Especially with alien tech being more advanced, I had 3 of my units one-shot due to poor planning and it was devastating. To me, this just means the developers have done a great job so far with developing a challenging, engaging experience that I kept wanting to come back to. And for the most part, it can play quite well on the Steam Deck.

Xenonauts 2 - Steam Deck Performance

When it comes to Xenonauts 2, there are two very peculiar things I discovered that directly impacted performance. First, the graphics quality. There are 6 different graphics presets: Fantastic, Beautiful, Good, Simple, Fast, Fastest with "Fantastic" being the highest setting and "Fastest" being the lowest. Oddly though, the top 4 all looked and behaved almost identically, while the "Fast" and "Fastest" preset behaved similarly to each other. These two groups were wildly different though with shadows and other details being affected, but they carried massive changes in power draw.

Higher Quality Settings
Lower Quality Settings
Lower Quality Settings
Higher Quality Settings

In one heavy scene, the higher quality group had around a 17W draw, but on the lower group, the same scene had a 10.8W draw. It is also more stable, which leads us into the next spot I noticed: framerate draw. Generally, higher framerates use more power, which makes sense, but the push of 60 FPS feels significantly larger here than in other games. I am used to seeing a 2W - 3W difference when going from 50 FPS to 60 FPS. But in Xenonauts 2, it is closer to a 5W difference and some instability, regardless of settings. Though outside of fighting, the game will rest around 7W - 8W for both builds.

Other than that, there is going to be some slowdowns when enemies take their turns and when moving around the map too quickly, but this doesn't detract from the game. Overall, it is definitely playable and with the previous issues noted, there are two builds that can be provided for this early access review:

Recommended/Battery Build

After testing, I decided the recommended build will utilize the "Fast" graphics preset to save on battery and keep as much stability as possible. The downgrades of the game's visuals were minimal compared to the massive savings in harder areas of the game, which increased battery life by an average of 1.5 - 2 hours and kept temps low thanks to being able to handle a TDP limit of 7. With the aesthetic the game is going for, this is what I would expect from battery life.

Quality Build

With the quality build, there wasn't much I could effectively change other than TDP limit to maximize the battery I could get. On some simple maps, I was getting as low as 10W drain, but on others, it could bounce to 21W. With a 50 FPS limit, this was reduced to 18W and kept as much smoothness as possible. It also allowed me to set a 10W TDP limit without there being any issues.

Xenonauts 2 does support 16:10 resolutions and does have cloud saves, but the text can be a little on the small side and controller support doesn't exist at this stage. We can mitigate some smaller parts of it to make playing with a gamepad a bit easier.

Community Control Scheme

To make tactical combat a bit easier, I made a couple small changes to the controls to make it a bit easier for me. The first, and most important, changes I made was to make the B button end your turn and RB and LB to swap to different soldiers. Then, I made the Dpad completely control the camera, making the left and right buttons rotate the scene while up and down went up a floor and down a floor respectively. Lastly, I made the Y button open up a selected soldiers inventory. You can find this layout in the community schemes for the game and it is called "Simple Steam Deck Layout".


I decided against going into something more intricate for a couple reasons, but the main one is that I just ended up using mouse controls way more often. It is the only way to select where your soldiers will go and navigate the map and aerial combat easily, so I ended up just using the trackpads and left and right triggers for mouse clicks. I might do a more intricate control scheme once the game has a couple early access updates, but this worked well for me for now!

As I did just play Jagged Alliance 3, which is a similar turn-based strategic game, I would love to see full controller support be implemented in a similar fashion. There is no confirmation of this, just something I would like to see.


Xenonauts 2 is a fantastic start to a game that could easily take up hours of my time. Being able to configure so many aspects of my station, all of which feel meaningful and can help to some degree, is such a wonderful feeling and holds my attention more than I expected. I feel like there are many ways to head into each battle and campaign, but if you take your time and think about your strategy, you can be victorious. It works well on the Steam Deck with some controller compromises and minor stutters here and there, but these can be ironed out through early access. Personally, I am willing to stick on the optimistic side as this is a game I would love to have more support on handheld devices!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back.

Jagged Alliance 3 was provided by THQ Nordic for review. Thank you!

Grand Chien is on the brink of despair after the country's elected president goes missing and a force known as "The Legion" is taking over. Now, the president's family has hired you to bring together a group of skilled mercenaries and bring order back to the nation. Jagged Alliance 3 is a turn-based tactic RPG where you will put together a team, outfit them, and send them along to liberate the land. Choose the path you go on and loot, salvage, and customize your weaponry, perks, and more as you move along the map, taking over territory back from The Legion. The choices you make will determine the fate of this land and the people in it.

I am extremely excited to say this is finally a worthy successor to this awesome franchise. The combat is deep and exciting, the variety of weapons, loot, and armor you can find and use is great, and it is challenging. Each battle feels heavy, making sure every decision made is a smart one to keep your mercs alive. I went guns-blazing into one mission, which worked for 2 others, and was completely demolished thanks to how unprepared I was. Taking your time and careful planning are rewarded here and really makes each victory feel so sweet.

The sat map is how you will move around the large islands and utilize operations, which can repair your weapons, allow your mercs to rest, scout areas ahead, or even train militia to defend liberated villages and outposts. Scouting, especially when coming up on big fights, will be essential in planning out your strategy, showing approximate info where enemies are and other tactical viewpoints. From here you can also access the Browser, where you will hire mercs, email, notes (missions), and check out your team's info and inventories. All of which are extremely important and provide necessary care and information for your team.

There are some nice little features that would have been nice to have like better descriptions/tutorials for some of the gameplay systems, but these didn't kill the enjoyment as I quickly learned exactly what to do. Jagged Alliance 3 has become one of my favorite tactical RPGs to play this year and is well-deserving of your time if you enjoy these kinds of games. The challenge is real, which I love, but the amount of flexibility and content to configure your team the way you want and approach each battle differently is fantastic. Although, to play this on the Steam Deck, there will be a couple concessions to make.

Jagged Alliance 3 - Steam Deck Performance

So when the game was released, a Steam Deck graphical preset was added in with the devs announcing the game is Steam Deck playable. Honestly, the settings are actually quite good when it comes to providing a base to play for the device. The quality settings are mostly on high, except shadows, while it utilizes FSR 2.0 quality mode. With a TDP limit of 9, I was quite excited by how well it worked, but I started to see a couple cracks as I got to more complex maps.

If you are playing without a limit, you will be fine, but if you change Object Detail to "Low" and View Distance to "Medium", you will be able to keep the TDP limit at 9 and get around 3 hours of battery. This became my favorite way to play personally as it kept the game looking gorgeous while balancing battery life and stability.

Next we have the framerate build and this one was a bit harder to nail down. Some maps and areas can easily hit the 50 FPS mark, but there are the few that are extremely challenging. 60 FPS isn't possible though, even when the maps are simple. Luckily, there is one setting that you can turn off to make this not only possible, but also save on battery life a solid amount: Shadows. By turning shadows off, hitting a solid 40 FPS on the complex maps is achievable, though it does heavily change how the game looks.

Shadows On
Shadows Off
Shadows Off
Shadows On

Otherwise, I am able to use almost same exact settings as the modified Steam Deck preset to make it work well. I found putting FSR 2 to Ultra Quality was within the possibility as well. This means you will still have a beautiful image, it will just be shadow-less. It also allowed a TDP limit of 11 to make sure things stuck to the stable side.

Finally, we have the quality build. My main goal here was a native resolution with shadows on and this is achievable on medium settings with a TDP limit of 11! I kept antialiasing on FXAA, but the resolution scale was native. This means we have a crisp image that looks fantastic, but ends up draining a lot on more complicated maps. I didn't find the game could handle anything above 30 FPS like this, so we had to use a cap.

Jagged Alliance 3 does have 16:10 resolution support, which is fantastic, and it sports full controller support and cloud saves. The controller took a little to get used to, but overall, it worked well. I have to commend developer Haemont Games on this as making a game like this work on a controller.

Small Text and Icons

Unfortunately, one aspect of the game that can't be changed is the text and icon size. There is a lot of text and icons that show you how to take certain actions, like ending your turn, and they are extremely small on the Steam Deck's screen. This can be quite jarring in a game with so many different ways to control different actions.

The biggest thing to remember is that in battles, holding down the left trigger and pressing a button will have a different action. For example, using the left trigger and left D-pad will tell the selected character to reload and the trigger with B will end your turn. Both of these are the more important commands I used, but there are others to give easy access to different actions your mercs can take.


Jagged Alliance 3 is the series return to form and I couldn't be happier to see it. The turn-based strategy gameplay is deep and challenging with a chunk of customizability to make each of your mercs, battles, and choices feel much more impactful. If you were waiting for a true successor in the Jagged Alliance series, the wait is now over! Even with some of the compromises on the Steam Deck, this is still a fantastic game and one definitely worth your invested time.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back.

Company of Heroes is back and bigger than ever before! Company of Heroes 3 (CoH3) will see you immersing yourself in epic RTS combat spanning across Italy and North Africa. Utilize different factions and units in the biggest campaign in this franchises history, filled with "sandbox-style" gameplay to win the war. CoH3 includes army customization as well to bring in new levels of strategy into the mix. Along with gorgeous cinematic action and a new state-of-the-art engine to render special effects and physics, this is the definitive WW2 RTS experience.

Before I go into settings, yes this is a real-time strategy game. This game is best played with a Keyboard and Mouse, but it is able to be played with a gamepad. There are custom configurations, but none of them worked out enough to justify using it over the base version. I did try making my own, but I had the same issue where nothing I could do really enhanced the experience enough to justify. The game is coming out for consoles as well, so controller support may come to PC as well, but we won't know for sure until it releases.

Company of Heroes 3 started off running significantly better than I expected. The game defaults to the lowest setting and a 30 FPS lock. I was hitting 10W drain at this and immediately felt this could be better. This is where I came across my first hurdle...the in-game framerate cap. The game caps itself at 30 and actually locks the option due to the APU of the Deck having a quad-core CPU, meaning you can't make the framerate higher than 30. But, as I was rebooting the Deck to change graphics settings, the option to change the in-game cap unlocked and I was able to start running CoH3 at higher framerates. I couldn't replicate this on purpose, so I made a 30 and 40 FPS build incase you are able to push it higher.


The 30 FPS build is the recommended since I know everyone will be able to utilize it. It combines Medium, High, and Low settings with 100% render scale for a crisp and stable experience. You could push it higher, but the drain creeps up and drops are more noticeable. The 40 FPS build is mostly Medium and Low settings along with an 85% render scale. The drain is higher here than the 30 FPS, but the smoothness is fantastic.

I also noticed that no matter what, there were always some small stutters/drops in framerate at some parts in the game. This happened mostly during real-time cutscenes, which slowed the game's framerate down a bit, zooming out to the big map, or when a lot happened on screen at once. Though once the cutscene was done and the action passed, this quickly went back down. Through my playing, this didn't happen nearly as much and when it did, I didn't really notice.

Overall, I am happy with the performance and how the game plays on the Deck. Playing with a Keyboard and Mouse while docked would feel better, and full controller support would be EVEN better, but it is playable. With the console edition coming out later, it is possible this issue will be remedied in the future. If you like these kinds of games and don't mind using a gamepad to emulate the keyboard and mouse, or docking it and using an actual KB+M, get this game!

Company of Heroes 3: Screenshots


100% Render Scale
85% Render Scale
85% Render Scale
100% Render Scale

30 FPS Build:

40 FPS Build:

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Stellaris is a slow paced grand strategy game in space where you start with your own empire against various factions with many different ways to win. You mostly see space combat, while unit ground movement is just told to you through text if you click on the unit. Similar to Elder Scrolls or some other 4X grand strategy games, it requires mods to hit its true potential. But when all the stars align, this game is out of this world.

Stellaris Steam Deck Graphics

When it comes to graphics presets they all run around the same, but I found that medium works the best out of them all. For some reason, low settings had more issues late game though. The average temps throughout the game were in the mid 70s for both CPU and GPU, while slowly increasing as more factions were found.

Luckily, even all the way to the end of the game, the highest temps I was able to reach were 82C for CPU and 80C for GPU, but this would usually only be for 1-3 minutes thanks to multiple battles happening at the same time. The battery would last around 5 hours initially but depending on how many factions you have it can go down to 3.5 hours.

Stellaris Steam Deck Settings

Capping wattage is pointless thanks to the late-game stutters so I would keep it on a TDP limit of 15W to prevent any battery spikes. Unfortunately, the game will stutter down to as low as 45 FPS. This happens even on desktop, so I wouldn’t limit the framerate to less than 60 because either way, the FPS drops/stuttering will happen. For example, if you are on a 30 FPS cap, it will drop to 14 FPS, but with a 60 FPS cap, it will drop to around 45 FPS.

I was also playing the game with 3 workshop mods, which actually helped the game run better with lower temps. This is quite unique since I tested without any mods and with specific performance enhancement mods, but these ones helped more than either of those tests. The link to all 3 of these mods will be below the review.

The Steam Deck itself handles this game perfectly since CPU and GPU don’t go over 40% usage, but the problem is the optimization of the original game itself. It bottlenecks late game, forcing stuttering. This is due to processing too many decisions being made in-game by other AI, which could be from too many enemies on the field or some that grew way too large on a huge map.

I was able to confirm this by doing a comparison on the AMD 5700u Onexplayer, and Windows 10 desktop, and came across the exact same stutters even though it is on Windows 10 & 11. If stuttering bothers you, then you should use small galaxies with no more than 5 factions in all. 


Stellaris runs fine most of the time thankfully, though I once had the game crash on launch. I recommend lowering the UI scaling to either 90% or 80%. At 80%, you will not have to move anything and be able to click and close everything easily, while at 90%, there may be a few windows to move around, but everything will be easily clickable.

The only glitches I came across were some graphical issues that arose on locations the game calls “Suns” or in combat, but if I hadn’t tested it on a Onexplayer for comparisons, I’d have had no idea that wasn’t unoptimization due to the game itself.

In the end I was saddened that the stutters were a regular occurrence late-game, but I’m glad that the issue isn’t with the steam deck but instead the game itself. Personally, it ran well enough to play and satisfy my cravings for a grand strategy space game. I would recommend playing with a smaller amount of factions or a smaller map, especially if you are a more peaceful player, but be prepared for the late-game stuttering.

Need some help understanding how we got to our score? Check out our Guide to Steam Deck HQ.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back!