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Can You Play Need For Speed Unbound On Steam Deck?

Soon to be released on December 2, "Need for Speed Unbound" will be available for various platforms, including the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and the PC. But the question on some mobile-minded gamers' minds is whether they can play it on Valve's handheld Steam Deck.

Since its initial launch in February, the Steam Deck has been well-received by critics and techies for being a competent PC-adjacent device at an affordable price. Even with the most demanding games, the Steam Deck has proven to provide players with a solid gaming experience. However, with "Need for Speed Unbound" being a next-gen exclusive, one might wonder whether the latest entry in EA's signature arcade racer series is compatible with the Steam Deck.

The answer is a bit complicated, as the title isn't officially supported on Valve's handheld PC. However, with some work, "Need For Speed Unbound" can be played on the Steam Deck and put out reasonable performance.

Need For Speed Unbound is playable on the Steam Deck with Proton Experimental

Officially, "Need for Speed Unbound" is tagged as unsupported on the Steam Deck. However, according to YouTuber Gaming on Linux, a workaround makes the arcade racer playable on the Steam Deck using Proton Experimental. When talking about the game's compatibility on Valve's handheld PC, Gaming on Linux claimed that the loading times to get into "Need For Speed Unbound" lasted over 4 minutes. On top of that, the first attempt to play the game on the Steam Deck led to it crashing completely. However, after this first mishap, Linux seemed to have no trouble playing the game.

Regarding the game's performance on the Steam Deck, Gaming on Linux said there are some issues. For the Steam Deck to run "Need For Speed Unbound" efficiently and as smoothly as possible, the graphical preset had to be set to "Low" throughout. This locked the game at 30fps, and even then, there were occasional dips in framerate when the action on-screen got a little more intense. Despite these performance limitations, Linux confirmed that they mostly enjoyed "Need For Speed Unbound" on the Steam Deck and recommended it to anyone who enjoys the series.

Even if it doesn't outperform the next-gen consoles or more dedicated PC setups, the Steam Deck once again proves (as with "World of Warcraft" and "Overwatch 2") itself a versatile gaming machine.