Can You Play Returnal on the Steam Deck?

by Matthew Kevin Mitchell

Are you wondering if you can play Returnal on the Steam Deck? The Steam Deck is one of the best gaming devices to hit the market in a very long time. It allows you to play your Steam catalog from anywhere you please, and it can also handle most of the modern triple-A titles out there with little to no modification to the in-game settings. So then, can it handle Returnal with all of its intensive PC requirements and features like 3D audio? Here is everything you need to know if you can play Returnal on the Steam Deck and how well it performs.

Can Your Steam Deck Run Returnal?


Yes, you can play Returnal on the Steam Deck. However, Returnal’s current Steam Deck Compatibility rating is currently unknown. This Unknown rating is because Valve hasn’t officially reviewed and given the game a rating based on factors like built-in controls, display, and overall performance. Valve does its testing by using automated scripts and hands-on testing. Typically after the game releases, Valve will release a Compatibility rating, so we will update this guide once that happens. As mentioned above, this Unknown rating means the game isn’t officially supported on your Steam Deck, but it doesn’t mean it won’t run. We have tested Returnal on the Steam Deck, and here are our findings.

Graphic Settings on the Steam Deck

The biggest question you may have is how high of a graphics setting the Steam Deck can run since Returnal supports 4K and 4K with Ray Tracing enabled. The Steam Deck can go as high as the Epic pre-set graphical setting. However, it will struggle to run it on that setting. Remember that the Steam Deck is also locked to the resolution of 1200 x 800, which is 720p. Because of this, the in-game benchmark recommends you run Returnal at the Low pre-set graphical setting.

You can successfully play Returnal on the High pre-set graphical setting with a few modifications. However, the game is highly GPU intensive, and you will see the GPU constantly at 100% on the Steam Deck stats. Therefore, it would be best if you lowered or turned off some settings that will ping the GPU the most. The nice thing about the Returnal settings menu is that it tells you what piece of hardware it will use and how much of it.

Can the Steam Deck Do 3D Audio?

Yes, the Steam Deck can do 3D Audio. All you need to enjoy Returnal’s 3D audio is regular stereo headphones because 3D positional audio is all done with software and binaural recordings. Most surround sound headphones are scams or are not worth the money, so make sure to plug in your stereo headphones and adjust the sound settings to test before purchasing a new pair.

Returnal PC will release for PC via Steam and Epic Games on February 15, 2023.