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Palworld is playable on Steam Deck, but needs some work

Pocketpair’s hit ‘Pokémon-with-guns’ survival game isn’t ‘Verified’ just yet

A player character targets a Reptyro and is assisted by a Pal in a battle screenshot from Palworld Image: Pocketpair
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Palworld is now available in Early Access on Steam and in Game Preview mode on Xbox. The “Pokémon-with-guns” game is also playable on Valve’s Steam Deck, where I’ve been playing since Palworld launched.

Yes, Palworld is officially “Playable” on Steam Deck, which in Valve’s definition means that the game is “functional on Steam Deck, but might require some extra effort to interact with or configure.” Valve also warns some in-game text may be small and hard to read on the Steam Deck screen, and that users will need to adjust some graphics settings themselves.

Palworld on Steam Deck plays just like its bigger PC sibling — it’s a fully functional, open-world survival game with dozens of off-brand Pokémon pals in the palms of your hands. There’s no gameplay element the Steam Deck version lacks compared to the other versions, but it can also be a bit clumsy, and frequently feels slightly broken. I’ve had some difficulty using the Steam Deck’s gamepad controls to move through the game’s menus; some button presses simply don’t register consistently, and I’ve been befuddled by how to navigate certain menus. And Valve’s warning’s about tiny in-game text should be heeded. Palworld’s interface is built for much larger screens, and some button icons are difficult to discern.

Graphically, the game defaults to low settings, which delivers between 25-35 fps refresh rates. Tweaking those settings further will offer better performance without much sacrifice in visual quality. Palworld will look OK and run slightly better, generally at a 30 fps frame rate (which you can lock) with the following settings, with the Steam Deck’s native 1200 x 800 resolution:

  • VSync — off
  • Motion Blur — off
  • Max FPS — 30
  • Anti-aliasing — TSR (or TAA)
  • View Distance — low
  • Grass — medium
  • Shadows — medium
  • Effects Quality — medium
  • Texture Quality — medium

Manually setting all those graphics options to “low” will get you up to an inconsistent 40-50 fps, but the sheer ugliness of those visuals may not be worth the trade-off. A mostly solid 30 fps will likely serve your needs better.

Palworld obviously still needs a lot of work to be fully “Verified” on Steam Deck, particularly around various UI elements and improved game pad control support. But it’s more than playable for now, and worth trying out on your Steam Deck if you have one.

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