Update 9/8/22: Due to the newest update adding in native FSR 2.0, we will be reassessing the builds and updating the review! Consider this one outdated for the time being.

Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2) is a third-person open-world game with a heavy emphasis on freedom. You take the reins of Arthur Morgan as he travels with his infamous gang to evade federal agents and bounty hunters during the American wild west of 1899. You can choose to follow the story and see how the deepening internal divisions affect the game in this well-written story, or go on your own and rob, steal, tie people up, or just watch the game’s enjoyable physics do their work. Rockstar, the developers of RDR2, are known for their fine-tuned gameplay and beautiful worlds, and this is definitely one of them.

Before I get into the performance, there have been reports of crashing when playing RDR2 for a period of time, usually around 30 minutes. In my playthrough, I experienced no crashes whatsoever. I installed the game with Proton GE 7-24 and my playthrough of the game had Triple Buffering and Vsync turned off. From reports I have read, this seems to be the main cause of any crashes as well. If you experience crashes, don’t hesitate to send a message on our Discord server so we can troubleshoot and figure out how to remedy it.

Knowing the kind of game this is, I had a good feeling going in that it would need a good amount of tweaking, and I was most definitely correct. This is a game you shouldn’t expect to get 3+ hours of gameplay with lower temps, this is a full open-world AAA game that tends to be at the forefront of game development. At max settings, with a 60 FPS cap and no TDP limit, I was getting over 80c temps with 25W of battery usage…just standing still in a camp. And even with a 30 FPS cap, battery drain was still much higher than it should have been for just standing still. 

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The temps and battery for standing still in max settings is insane, while the recommended battery build in the same area is much cooler overall.

The prologue of the game, up to chapter 2, does experience some instability, but that disappears once you can freely roam the open world. While I knew 40 FPS would be possible, I wanted to focus on a solid 30 FPS build that will strike a good balance of quality without an insane battery drain of over 20W. After playing around with the presets, I did arrive at my goal and was able to get a good quality build with temps that largely stayed under 80c with native resolution and under 20W battery drain. The framerate was stable 99% of the time, but did experience some spikes every now and then. These were far and few though, and without the overlay showing my framerate graph, I wouldn’t have noticed. These spikes are also common across all builds, not just this one. While the visuals look great, the temps and battery drain left more to be desired.

Then comes the battery build. This build for RDR2 is way more competent than I expected. It doesn’t destroy the visuals too much and keeps temps and battery more closely under wraps. By setting everything to low, and using FSR 2.0 in balanced mode, the game keeps a stable 30 FPS while keeping temps under 75c and battery around or below 17W. This is, in-part, thanks to the TDP limit of 8 to keep it lower. It is a great alternative for people that want to preserve battery as much as possible, but keep decent visuals. It was a very close call between this and the quality build, but ultimately, I feel the battery is better suited overall for the Deck.

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The 40 FPS build however is for those who only want to play a little while having a better framerate that feels significantly more smooth. While the reduction in quality is very noticeable, it isn’t a deterrent from playing the game. Even with all the quality settings on low and a high TDP limit of 12, the game can run at 40 FPS about 80% of the time. There will still be spikes and dips in framerate that are quite noticeable even without the graph there. With the 80c average temps, I wouldn’t personally use this build, but it is possible and can be done.

The only mod I ended up using was the FSR 2.0 mod, which I feel helps to really stabilize the battery and 40 FPS builds more. You can check out how to get it and follow our quick guide down below. I also, very luckily, did not experience any bugs or glitches that inhibited gameplay. Though, when changing FSR 2.0 settings, it can cause the whole screen to go white. This is remedied by moving around or moving the camera, the world will populate back in. I did find this happen once or twice when going into a town, but I just kept moving around slightly and it would all come back.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a fantastic game and it is even more amazing that it can be played on Deck regardless of the compromises. This game was not one I expected going in to be playable for 4+ hours with fantastic quality, but what came out of it is what I would consider a marvelous achievement. Plus, you are playing RDR2 in the palm of your hand, I feel something needs to be said about that!

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

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