For Linux Enthusiasts Especially, The Steam Deck Is An Incredible & Fun Device
Steam Deck being such an open platform was so refreshing in today's world of vendor-lockins and closed ecosystems. Not only is it built atop Linux, but the hardware is quite open too with the storage being replaceable, able to attach peripherals via USB-C for those with Linux drivers, etc.
For any veteran Linux user especially, the Steam Deck is a great little device. However, even within the confines of the Steam experience on the Steam Deck, it remains an evolving experience. Up through Wednesday -- 2 days before launch -- the SteamOS updates were coming in with significant revisions and another update on Thursday with noteworthy changes. Valve will continue to improve upon and refine this experience especially over the near-term.
There have been updates near-daily to SteamOS and as such this launch-day article isn't going to focus much on the actual benchmarks given the state of flux. But in any case firing up games from Valve's own titles to HITMAN 3 to other titles were all playing well on the Steam Deck with its 1280 x 800 resolution resolution and RDNA2 graphics. There have been a few issues like F1 2021 having a black screen at launch, a crash with Cyberpunk 2077, to occasional other oddities. Overall though is a far better experience than the normal Linux gaming experience especially for novice users and not needing to worry about setting up your Linux install for an ideal gaming experience. Given the continued improvements to the AMD Radeon open-source graphics driver stack I report on very frequently. there will only be more improvements ahead for the Steam Deck performance. Similarly, expect continued battery life improvements moving forward.
The overall UI/UX with the Steam Deck is fairly intuitive. Outside in the desktop mode there is particularly room for improvement... It wasn't immediately clear how to trigger the on-screen keyboard, until Valve mentioned the STEAM + X key combination. When attaching a keyboard and mouse with a USB-C hub, the KDE Plasma desktop was working out great.
In the event those tinkering with the Steam Deck corrupt their file-system or change out the storage, there is a clean system image that will be provided to re-image the deck. Valve will be issuing proper SteamOS 3.0 images "sometime after launch" with no further indication yet exactly when.
Among the updates arriving to SteamOS / Steam just in the past few days have included easy integration with Google Chrome, a "Non-Steam" tab to make it easier accessing non-Steam games/apps from the default UI, Ui performance improvements, support for multiple app switching via the STEAM key, a new in-game overlay, improved WiFi connectivity, and tons of fixes. Valve and their partners are also still working on cloud gaming support for the Steam Deck with its web browser.