Thank you to Jimmy Champane from Deck Ready for helping me test late-game scenes for this first look and TheFirstJosh for providing a save game I could test with.
Will you be able to bring this shattered world back together? In Death Stranding, you are Sam Porter Bridges, a delivery man who travels across a post-apocalyptic America to reconnect cities and society. The game features elements of stealth, as well as open-world exploration and a variety of missions to complete as you deliver packages and fend off enemies in this third-person experience.
Death Stranding is directed by Hideo Kojima, and with some of his signature storytelling and world building. The story can feel a bit convoluted at times, but is overall a fantastic experience, which the Director's Cut expands on. With new items, expanded combat, more customization, new missions, new structures, and more, the Director's Cut is the best way to experience this world, but on the Steam Deck, some compromises are needed to enjoy all it has to offer.
With Death Stranding Director's Cut, I had a mix of feelings. First, it started off with excitement as the 30 FPS with XeSS seemed to be holding up under a 17W drain, but as it got a bit more intense, the cracks started to form. They formed so hard that my game crashed about 3-4 times, all with different setting configurations I was testing and in different spots. Turning off all caps was a little bit better, but also drained a significant amount more that I didn't feel justified the slight increase in stability, and that's just regarding the opening areas.
Death Stranding: Director's Cut is a weird egg. The power draw is stagnant and doesn't change much with any graphics setting changes. On top of that, setting everything on the lowest possible settings with FSR 1.0 at performance mode only saved around 1W of drain and when caps were turned off, it still drained really high. I also tried forcing resolution with Steam and while it technically worked, it only decreased the size of the game's window and didn't change any battery drain or temps.
Jimmy from Deck Ready helped test this on his end. In one of the late-game factory scenes, he confirmed that regardless of the settings, there were drops no matter what. From multiple reports, you will start to see this more and more towards the late-game, making it near impossible to play at times with crashes and framerate drops. This kind of performance degradation started becoming a bit more noticeable after the patch that added in XeSS, so I decided to try the game in a pre-updated state to see how much the performance changed.
Before I go into the findings, I was able to go backwards in version by using the Steam console and downloading the corresponding manifest for the game and replacing the game files. I found this using SteamDB and going to the correct game depot. I will post a small guide on how to do this yourself soon because, as I thought, performance can be improved by downgrading Death Stranding: Director's Cut to the previous version. Due to borrowing a save from TheFirstJosh, I also had to hex edit the game's .exe file to bypass any corrupted save checks.
Just for transparency, this is the console command I used in Steam to download the old version of the game, which I then used to replace the files stored in the local area:
download_depot 1850570 1850571 7865482309805580274
While more testing needs to be done, I was finding the game to hold framerate much better in the older version, especially at 30 FPS, and at lower battery drain. When riding around on vehicles, I noticed a significant reduction in drops at a similar graphics setting with Ultra Quality on FSR. I did encounter bigger drops when it started raining and the BTs showed up, but switching "Available Video Memory" to Low and changing FSR quality to "Quality" did help bring this back up to 30 (TDP Limit of 9). Overall, more testing needs to be done, but I believe downgrading the version will be the way to go.
For comparison, I also tried a bit of the original game, which seems to run better than the DC version completely. This makes sense since it is using older graphical tech that isn't as demanding, but since it isn't on sale anymore, it doesn't matter too much.
There is still a lot to test and go over with Death Stranding, but I believe the best way to play this currently is pre-XeSS update. With lower settings, it was able to handle the rain and BTs much better than before and still looked pretty decent with FSR on quality. If you want to just play without the downgrade, be prepared for late-game areas or spots where it is raining and BTs show up as it will slow the game down, possibly leading to crashes. Death Stranding is an awesome game and I highly recommend buying it just because of the content, but enjoying it on the Steam Deck in late game areas will require a bit of finessing.
Just some cool shots I got while I was testing:
Our review is based on the PC version of this game.
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Firewatch is a single-player story game that tells a engrossing tale about a man dealing with overwhelming grief. Without spoiling too much, he takes up a job to watch over a forest to spot fires and, with the help of his sarcastic and unprofessional boss, uncovers a disturbing turn of events that changes everything. The game hits you in the heart real quick and turns into a powerful narrative about pain, guilt, and sorrow. For such a small game, it was a wonderful experience and playing on Steam Deck was a fantastic way to see the story unfold.
Overall, performance on deck was mostly fluid. I went through the entire game using the optimized/recommended settings and didn’t feel much holding me back. At 40 FPS, and using Proton GE 7-19, I was able to play the entire game without any huge slowdowns. I would get framerate drops and some battery usage spikes when running quickly in the forest, but it would quickly bounce back. Firewatch has full controller support and does show Steam Deck icons in-game.
This also means that the official gamepad layout works extremely well for the game and I felt no awkwardness using the controls. The only gripe I have is trying to change the resolution in-game. Doing this with just the deck controller is aggravating and near impossible. The right trackpad is mouse cursor control by default, but there’s no keybind for a left mouse click, which is essential. I just binded the left click to pressing the right trackpad down and it made changing resolutions and navigating some menus easier.
I encountered a couple bugs in my playthrough, but they were more slight nuisances and nothing game-breaking. The biggest bug I found was one time starting up the game and it went to a black screen and stayed there. This was easily fixed just by putting the deck into sleep mode and waking it up right after.
Another little bug includes some minor framerate dips and audio crackling when coming out of sleep mode (which fixed themselves shortly after), but that was all I experienced in my playthrough. In my testing, I was also not able to ideally hit 60 FPS without battery being drained incredibly quick and quality being on the lowest setting. I also noticed, when I was testing the maximum battery build, that it didn’t seem like FSR or Half Rate Shading did anything to affect quality of the game. A little disappointing, but not the end of the world.
Overall, my experience with Firewatch was a positive one. Framerate drops were not very noticeable and any bugs were generally fixed after a couple seconds. Adding the binding for left mouse click to the right trackpad solved my biggest gripe of going through the settings menu for the game. With a verified rating from Valve, which I agree with, this is definitely a great game to add to your deck library.
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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 news, tips and tutorials, game settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back!