Steam Deck: How to Use Proton’s Compatibility Features

The Steam Deck is a phenomenal device that raises the bar for portable gaming. That goes for visuals, customization, and the sheer quality of the game library, and the verified list of games on the machine is continually growing. However, some games, while playable, have issues with controller compatibility and even performance.

Games playable on Steam Deck with issues are usually highlighted with a yellow exclamation mark. There is a way to get the best out of a game using Proton’s compatibility layer. Proton is a tool that allows Windows games to run Linux operating systems, improving their compatibility. It’s a game changer for titles that struggle to run on hardware with default settings.

Updated July 20, 2023, by Michael Llewellyn: Proton’s compatibility tools are invaluable for Steam Deck users as they can get the best performance out of an otherwise incompatible game.

It is often updated with new versions and it is not always apparent without some experimentation which version of Proton works best with specific games. This guide has been updated to include a feature where players can find the best version of Proton tools for different games and the best settings for their favorite Steam Deck titles.

How to use Proton Compatibility on Steam Deck Steam Deck playable but with issues

Proton compatibility helps most games run smoothly and controller issues. In this example, the medieval open-world RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance was used because it struggles to run without compatibility tools. Additionally, it underperforms on consoles with strange particle effects, undergrowth, and shadows. On Steam Deck with Proton compatibility, Kingdom Come Deliverance can run at high settings and a nearly locked 40 FPS. To enable Proton compatibility, use the following steps:

Turn on the Steam Deck. Select the desired game that may be having trouble running. Don’t start the game. Instead, select the gear icon on the right side. Steam Deck cogwheel on game screen Highlight and select the Compatibility option. In the new menu, highlight and select the Properties option. Steam Deck Properties In the new menu, check the option Force use a specific Steam Play compatibility tool. From the drop-down menu, select the latest version of Proton – in this guide, the latest was Proton 8.0-1 – or Proton Experimental. Again, using Kingdom Come Deliverance as an example of a challenging game to run at high settings, it runs at a smoother 40 FPS on the Steam Deck with occasional dips to 35 in busy areas. Steam Deck Kingdom Come running at high settings using Proton Compatibility Additionally, the Steam Deck can run Kingdom Come Deliverance on most of the game’s highest settings at 40 FPS.

Proton’s compatibility tools will help games work around a number of out-of-the-box compatibility issues. Also, it can help you get the best out of graphically demanding games. The only issue Proton doesn’t help with is text readability.

Steam Deck Zoom Tool

Some games are developed with larger screens in mind. As a result, text may appear too small on the Steam Deck screen. To fix this issue, press the Steam and L1 buttons to activate the Magnifier tool.

Install Decky Loader for Steam Deck Steam Deck download Decky tools

To get the most out of Steam Deck, players should make use of the side program known as Decky Loader. Decky Loader has several useful plug-ins for users to utilize and enhance their gaming experience. Decky Loader has a plugin called ProtonDB Badges which provides players with information about which Proton versions to use and other useful settings. To install Decky Loader, follow these steps:

Press the Steam button below the left trackpad. Highlight Power and switch to desktop mode. To make the next steps easier, connect a keyboard and mouse. The in-game keyboard can be accessed by pressing the Steam and X buttons. Open your preferred browser in Desktop mode and download Decky Loader using this link. Scroll down the GitHub page and download the program. Select Recommended Installation and go back to Game Mode after installation. Install ProtonDB Emblems for Steam Deck Steam Deck download ProtonDB badges

Now it’s time to download ProtonDB Badges so that players can access the recommended tools on the game pages.

Press the QAM button with the three dots below the right trackpad. Highlight and select the new plug icon. Select the settings cog and select Install Update. After installation, click on the store icon. Scroll down until you find ProtonDB Badges and select Install. Steam Deck Icons for ProtonDB Emblems Open a game’s page and a new icon will appear in the upper left corner of the screen. Click the icon to be redirected to the ProtonDB website, where users suggest configurations, guidance, and bug and problem reports.

The Steam Deck is now available on the official Steam Store.

More: Best Games for the Steam Deck

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