Can the upcoming Steam Deck play games well-suited to desktop PCs, like MOBAs, MMOs and esports titles?
The short answer is yes, you can. But we’d ask another question: would you want to? Let us explain.
Valve’s newly announced Steam Deck portable PC is an interesting bit of kit – the handheld device measures 298mm x 117mm x 49mm and features a seven-inch touch-screen, with a 1280 x 800px (720p native) resolution and 16:10 aspect ratio.
While this may be fine for the likes of action games and shooters, which might not have a heavy-HUD (heads-up display), it could be harder to play games with lots of intricate details, such as MMOs like World of Warcraft, or MOBAs like Dota 2 and League of Legends, especially when playing without a mouse. However, there is a workaround.
Steam Deck docking station
You can connect the Steam Deck to a docking station using its USB-C jack, and from here, connect it to a monitor. You can also plug a keyboard and mouse into the dock, making it like a normal PC – and a lot easier to play the likes of MOBAs, MMOs, strategy games and esports titles like CSGO.
The docking station will include one USB-A 3.1 port, two USB-A 2.0 ports, an ethernet connection and DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 external display ports. So, you can connect it up to most monitors and also use a wired connection, making it more stable for online gaming. The small size of the Steam Deck may make it well-suited to BYOC (bring your own computer) LAN events.
Without the docking station, the Steam Deck itself connects to the internet via Wi-Fi only.
While the Steam Deck console will start shipping from December 2021, the official docking station’s price and release date is still to be confirmed. However, Valve has said any USB-C dock currently on the market should work with the Steam Deck in the meantime.
Can the Steam Deck play WoW and LoL?
In terms of specific games, will World of Warcraft and League of Legends even work on the Steam Deck, given they’re not on Steam? Yes – it’s technically possible to play these types of games on the Steam Deck. By default, it features a new version of SteamOS, but the device is essentially a portable PC, so it’s possible to install Windows on it and other game download services like the Epic Games Launcher, Activision Blizzard’s Battle.net desktop app, and more.
The question is: would you want to? If you already have a desktop PC, then you already have a great place to play those kind of games. It’s nice that the Steam Deck gives you the option, but where it arguably provides value is in its portability – being able to play PC games on the go, while commuting or in the garden, or visiting a friend’s house for example.
Playing a title like League of Legends on the Steam Deck without a docking station or mouse may be difficult, though the device does feature two capacitive trackpads for mouse-style movements, and they can be mapped with custom macros. There is of course Wild Rift, but that version of League of Legends has been built from the ground up with touch controls specifically for mobiles like iOS and Android devices.
The Steam Deck is out December 2021 and is available in three options: 64GB (£349), 256GB (£459) and 512GB (£569). It also has a microSD slot so you can expand the storage. There’s more info on the Steam Deck website.
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Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.