Games Inbox: Is Steam Deck worth it?
The Monday Inbox argues over whether From Software games should have easy modes, as one reader asks about the best Disgaea to start with.
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Although part PC gamer myself, I’m not sure I entirely agree with or have the confidence of Plato2’s Reader’s Feature about the Steam Deck.
Do I fancy one at some point? Yeah. Do I think it will be an unequivocal success? Probably not.
They talked about ‘no forced upgrades every five years’ like new consoles. Does this reader think a Steam Deck will play AAA games well, when it gets to 2026? It won’t. A newer, more powerful version will be needed, just like consoles. Or am I missing something here?
It sounds to me like the Steam Deck is a really good cheap alternative to a low/mid-range gaming laptop. But just like those, I don’t see how it’s futureproofed at all.
Furthermore, if it does well, economics tells you that you will inevitably see ‘pro’ versions and 2.0 versions to address design flaws and buyers’ niggles with it.
No more peripherals you say? Really? No one will want a mouse and keyboard when it’s plugged into a telly ever? No one will want more extra external storage? What about racing wheels or better gamepads and headsets? All will still be needed, won’t they?
Then you’ve got Valve’s track record with hardware. Not great.
I’ll keep my feet on the ground and consider buying one well after its release day, probably six months to a year – assuming reviews and support are positive. Until then, I’ll sit on the fence.
I was somewhat bemused by Plato2’s Reader’s Feature, especially as he has not even played the machine. The first and most obvious mistake he makes is citing the advantages of computers, which seems perfectly fair but only if these advantages are replicated on the Steam system. When you buy a computer you are basically free to install whatever you want but on the Steam model you will not because Steam will almost certainly charge a percentage of app sales on its platform. That should go down really well with Epic. Does he really think Sony will continue to publish games in PC format if it will help to destroy its console model?
As regards mods, both Xbox and PlayStation will happily run mods but you can’t install them as they are never permitted. Personally, I think this is a good idea. One thing you can say about consoles they are at least virus free.
I also failed to understand to understand his logic about the ability to upgrade piece by piece on a top end computer as necessarily being a plus, as this is actually something that deters many. In any case, does he really think that you will happily be able to change out components like a full-size gaming PC because of its size? In all likelihood you will end up with a replacement cycle just like any other console, which in many ways is all it is.
Strangely, despite this feature I largely agree with Plato2’s sentiments concerning PC gaming. But it really isn’t for everyone. Installing mods can be a risky business. Apparently, a fair number of the Warzone cheats available have viruses. Chances are if everybody went to PC systems things would change because a large number of console players would not love the things it does. As I see it, personal preferences are very important. After all, I would love to give Nintendo games a go but will not touch a Dreamcast with a bargepole.
PS: I owned a couple of top end computers a few years back but changed over to consoles. I have never been tempted to go back.
GC: Epic Games has already welcomed the Steam Deck and its ability to run software from any source. (What does Nintendo have to do with the Dreamcast?)
Weather with You
I was reading Saturday’s Reader’s Feature and I was wondering if you could clear something up, please?
The article seems to suggest that the Steam Deck can be upgraded in the same way as a PC, so in a few years you can open it up and upgrade the graphics card, etc. Is that correct?
I have to admit I had assumed it was a lot like a console, so a closed box which will need to be upgraded to a Steam Deck 2 in the same way as traditional consoles when the technology moves on.
As an aside I think the Steam Deck looks seriously impressive and I very nearly hit the pre-order button on Friday. However, after the initial wave of excitement, I think I’ll bide my time for reviews, and see how it is received by early adopters. Valve don’t have the best track record with hardware and right now, if I was going to take the plunge and spend £400+, I might as well get an Xbox Series X (I already have a PlayStation 5) so I can play the very best versions of the Microsoft exclusives when they come out. I definitely want one though! At first glance it looks a truly magical machine and I hope it’s a success.
PS: Are Crowded House any good, did we reach a consensus on that?
GC: Valve has said you might be able to add a new SSD, but there’s been no suggestion that anything else is upgradeable. Or at least not officially. We have no strong opinion on Crowded House.
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Streets of Happiness
Just like to say how much I’m enjoying the DLC for Streets Of Rage 4. It brings three new characters (Well, Max isn’t new, I guess. Technically neither is Shiva but they are still all welcome new additions). The survival mode is very fun. After each round you pick one of two random buffs, like summon a random ally for a few seconds or food doesn’t heal but hits do. Makes it different every time.
It brings back classic stages with some new ones and the threat level keeps increasing, so it’s not too easy for those who like a challenge. There are also many new items and cosmetic differences to each character, which are new colour schemes or different visual effects to their special moves. So, for example, Max instead of sliding across the floor will now do a clothesline. Some cool new music too. It’s definitely worth it if you enjoyed the original game, plus it’s also pretty cheap.
From hard to easy
Regarding Craster’s letter about an easy mode difficulty in FromSoftware games, and the assertion that it would dilute the experience… I don’t understand this train of thought.
If From kept the regular mode absolutely identical to how it is now but also introduced an easier mode, how is anyone’s experience playing on the regular mode diluted in any way, shape or form? The game you played would be literally identical.
Why does someone else enjoying Elden Ring on an easier setting affect how you personally play it? Or what you experience or feel in any way? Your experience will be exactly the same, easy mode or not, because you won’t play it on the easy mode.
I can’t comprehend opposing more choice and options for other players who are perhaps intimidated or not as skilled, when the option you want to play it on will always be there, just as you want it to be, undiluted.
Thanks for your lovely reporting and reviews, it’s a great site you know.
GC: Thank you.
In a way I do agree with Saturday’s Reader’s Feature, the Steam Deck is a tempting offer but I’d never get rid of my PlayStation 5. The thing that’s making me think of getting one is the price. £350 and it’s a little PC in my hand, plus it does 4K and 60fps. The thing that is holding me back is the news on Warzone and cheaters, it’s a lot of money when the thing you’re playing on is where most of the cheaters are. If that is the case then £350 is a lot of money when players can’t play without cheating.
I am hoping you will review it and tell us what it’s like and if the cheaters are just as bad as normal at the moment. My PlayStation 5 is staying where it is and if the PlayStation 6/Xbox come out I’ll buy one of them as well
Couldn’t disagree more with the Reader’s Feature about Zelda: Skyward Sword. I too hated it on release but giving it a more traditional control layout, and making it a bit more user friendly, has given it a new lease of life and it’s up there with the best of them.
I hope Nintendo don’t completely ditch the more linear adventures for big open world Zeldas. I haven’t been able to put it down all weekend.
Since putting Astral Chain down, I’ve been plugging through Disgaea 6. I had pre-ordered it from Base.com and it came the Thursday before it was due to be released! I had thought that I would disagree with you by at least a point in its favour… but no.
The story starts well, the cast is mostly better than the crew of Disgaea 5, my favourite being Melodia – the walking Disney princess parody. Although, is the voice actress really that good of a singer? I do hate Ivar. He’s so creepy and gross. They try to excuse themselves by saying that Ivar sees Bieko as a little sister – but that’s not the tone he uses, is it? I’m sure Japan finds this trope hilarious. I do not.
The story really starts to break down during the forced and hurried introspection scenes that are somehow even more sappy than those in Disgaea 5. Which takes some doing. The twist was good, though. However, I don’t like the Spy Kids trope that Disgaea has used for three games now, where the bad guy ‘just needs friends.’ Urgh. Spare me.
Thank goodness the art style is still good or I wouldn’t be able to look at it. Like at all. And wow, all the missing content is outrageous. So many classes missing, the weapon skills are gone, no treasure chests to collect in between the chapters and not even an intro movie!
I’ve heard that Nippon Ichi have been experiencing severe financial difficulties, but then, even the mobile game is more lavish than this. I also don’t understand why this series has outright refused to diversify its gameplay. It’s still just… battles. Something interesting could be done with the geo symbols and have some kind of separate puzzle mode. Never mind some more traditional role-playing elements.
But Disgaea does need to do something more than it usually does. When I look for strategy role-players on the PlayStation 4, the Divinity: Original Sin games come up. And I think we can all agree that Disgaea, not even peak Disgaea, is of that standard.
Which Disgaea game is best for a newcomer to the series? I’ve seen them available on Steam for a long time now so I’ve decided to jump in.
GC: We’d probably start with the first one. It still has arguably the best cast and it’s only £11 on Steam.
Wow, between EA, Ubisoft, and the rest they’re really cranking out these Star Wars game now, eh? Oh, no wait, no they’re not. Sorry I must’ve dreamt that.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Iceman, who asks what game do you most regret buying, or receiving as a present, during your childhood?
Kids are even more prone to hype than adults, and we all have games we’re embarrassed to remember looking forward to, but which one upset you the most? Did it ruin a birthday or Christmas or was it something you spent your own money on and bitterly regretted?
What sort of success rate did you have as a kid, in terms of the quality of the games you picked, and how did you make your choices? What advert or review do you remember as being the most misleading and did you fall for it yourself?
E-mail your comments to: [email protected]
The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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