Helldivers 2 on Steam Deck: A Work-in-Progress Experience

Anastasios Antoniadis

Helldivers 2 (22)

Helldivers 2, the much-anticipated sequel from Arrowhead Studios, celebrated its successful release with great fanfare, only to reveal an initial shortcoming: the game was not optimized for the Steam Deck. This came as a disappointment to many, especially given Arrowhead’s reputation for creating engaging and somewhat quirky titles like the Magicka series. However, recent developments have brought a glimmer of hope to Steam Deck owners eager to dive into Helldivers 2.

Upon its release, Helldivers 2 was virtually incompatible with the Steam Deck, with players struggling to even launch the game. This issue was largely attributed to the game’s kernel-level anti-cheat system, which did not play well with Valve’s portable gaming PC. Yet, the tide has turned with the game’s first post-launch update, version 1.000.004, marking a significant step toward Steam Deck compatibility.

The Current State of Helldivers 2 on Steam Deck

With the update, Helldivers 2 now runs on the Steam Deck without the need for custom Proton configurations, offering a direct, albeit imperfect, gameplay experience. While this progress is commendable, players should temper their expectations, particularly regarding performance metrics such as frame rate. Current user experiences suggest that achieving a stable frame rate of 60 or even 40 FPS is a challenge, with performance generally hovering around the 30 FPS mark. According to a detailed analysis by Steam Deck Gaming, this level of performance, while not ideal, is still within the realm of playability, rarely dipping below 30 FPS.

Recommended Settings for Optimal Performance

For those looking to optimize their Helldivers 2 experience on the Steam Deck, Steam Deck Gaming has shared a set of recommended settings. These include:

  • Graphics Settings Preset: Low
  • Motion Blur: Off
  • Depth of Field: Off
  • Sharpness: 60
  • Texture Quality: Medium
  • Render Distance: High
  • Shadow Quality: Low
  • Particle Quality: Medium
  • Vegetation and Rubble Density: Medium
  • Terrain Quality: Medium
  • Anti-Aliasing: On

Interestingly, there’s a suggestion to consider keeping motion blur enabled, as it may enhance the visual smoothness at lower performance targets without significantly impacting overall performance.

As it stands, Helldivers 2 on the Steam Deck represents a mixed experience, balancing between newfound compatibility and the need for further optimization. Players can indeed embark on their planetary missions via the Steam Deck, but with the understanding that performance improvements are still on the horizon. Arrowhead Studios has yet to announce further updates specifically targeting the Steam Deck, but the community remains hopeful for enhancements that will refine and elevate the gameplay experience on this platform.

In conclusion, while Helldivers 2 can now be played on the Steam Deck post-update 1.000.004, it’s clear that both the developers and players are navigating uncharted territories regarding optimization. As Arrowhead Studios continues to work on the game, Steam Deck owners looking to enjoy Helldivers 2 may need to exercise patience and keep an eye out for future performance tweaks.

Anastasios Antoniadis
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