Entertainment Spider-Man Remastered makes me glad I got a Steam Deck instead of a PS5
Spider-Man Remastered makes me glad I got a Steam Deck instead of a PS5
What a world we live in. While Microsoft putting its Xbox games on PC is now the new normal, Sony has also been bringing some of its biggest PlayStation games to PC as well.
While we’ve had to wait a bit longer for Sony games to appear on PC, it has usually been worth it, as so far modern PlayStation PC ports have come with improved visuals and PC-exclusive features, such as support for ultrawide monitors, and Nvidia DLSS upscaling, amongst others, often putting Microsoft’s efforts to shame.
Spider-Man Remastered is the latest PlayStation exclusive to come to PC, and as with previous ports, such as God of War, not only does this game come with plenty features that make the most out of our powerful gaming PCs, but it is also certified for the Steam Deck handheld console.
This is particularly exciting, as it means we can play a visually-impressive, open-world, super-hero game on a portable device. Having played through Spider-Man on the PS4 Pro, and loved it, I was keen to see just how well it would play on my Steam Deck.
While I, like many PC gamers, go straight into a game’s visual settings before playing to eke out as much visual goodness as my graphics card will allow, when it comes to playing games on the Steam Deck, I find it’s best to stick with default settings, to begin with, at least.
This is because Steam Deck verified games have default settings that should give you the best experience on the handheld. Games that aren’t verified for Steam Deck may still run, but you’ll need to fiddle around with the settings for the best experience.
At default settings, Spider-Man Remastered on the Steam Deck runs at 1280 x 800. This is the native resolution of the Steam Deck’s 7-inch screen, and for the size of the display, games look good at this resolution – and it has the added benefit of not being as taxing on the graphics hardware as 1080p or higher resolutions are.
The graphics preset is set to ‘Medium’, which again strikes a decent balance between visual fidelity and performance, and it also uses AMD’s FSR 2.0 (FidelityFX Super Resolution), a useful tool that upscales graphics from lower resolutions in a way that makes it look similar to if it was running at a higher resolution, which can improve performance quite dramatically. By default, it is set here to target 30 frames per second.
Spider-Man Remastered on PC also supports Nvidia’s similar DLSS technology – but that’s only available for Nvidia’s RTX line up GPUs. With the Steam Deck running on AMD hardware, it can only use FSR – which is perfectly fine. By aiming for 30 frames a second, FSR will alter how much it upscales to keep the frame rate as close to 30fps as possible.
While 30fps may not seem like much for PC gamers used to higher frame rates, it’s again a decent compromise which should make playing on the Steam Deck more enjoyable, and help prolong the battery life.
You are missing out on the benefit of having faster and smoother gameplay that Spider-Man Remastered gets on PS5 and PC (which has unlocked frame rates), but the PS4 original played at 30fps.
First impressions with Spider-Man Remastered on Steam Deck are very positive. The cut scenes in particular look fantastic, and the smaller screen means that the relatively low resolution still looks good.
As soon as the first cut scene is over, you get to control Spider-Man has he swings through New York, and it’s here that things get really impressive. While the visuals don’t hit the same highs as if you were playing on a PS5 or PC (or even a PS4), the fact that I’m playing such a visually-ambitious game with a large open-world on a handheld device really is exciting, and for the most part, swinging travelling around the game’s recreation of New York is just as fun as when played on PC or console.
It’s a great example of how powerful the Steam Deck is, and it’s the kind of game that many of us have been dreaming of playing on a handheld console for years.
The experience isn’t flawless, however. This is a very ambitious game, and that does result in some noticeable dips in frame rate while swinging around. While it doesn’t dip too far, going down to around 27fps, it does mean that it doesn’t always feel particularly smooth.
However, after a recent patch, it looks like the open-world performance has been improved a lot, with it hovering around the 40fps mark, with dips to the low 30s, but never below. This is great to see, and leads to a much more smooth experience.
The effort it takes for the plucky Steam Deck to play Spider-Man Remastered also quickly became clear as the fans leapt into action, and became increasingly noisy. The Steam Deck also became noticeably hot to touch around the exhaust fans (though this did not impact how comfortable it felt to hold).
Whilst the occasional frame rate drops while swinging around New York was slightly distracting, it was still a thrill to play the game on the Steam Deck. As well as the huge open-world, there are levels that take place in enclosed spaces, such as Fisk Tower, the HQ of Kingpin.
These levels allow for more graphical details and better performance, with environmental details such as reflections looking particularly good on the Steam Deck’s screen. The smoother frame rates in these levels also benefitted the game’s combat, which relies on timing and smooth combos for fluid hand-to-hand fights, and these felt particularly good. In the outside world, where frame rates were choppier, the fights didn’t flow as well, which was a shame.
I also noticed that frame rates dropped when you’re closer to the ground. This makes sense, as there are people, cars and other objects all being rendered, and that makes performance take a hit. The higher up you are, the less ground-based objects and NPCs are spawned, so gameplay and movement is much smoother.
Another thing to note is that as with many other graphically-intensive games, Spider-Man Remastered depletes the Steam Deck’s battery pretty quickly – we managed just over an hour and 20 minutes before having to charge it back up.
Do tweaks help?
While performance is good, I had a play around to see if there were any tweaks I could make to get the game running even better.
At first, I changed upscaling to FSR 2.0 with dynamic resolution scaling of 60fps. This did boost frame rates, but not to 60fps, with the game mainly running at around 48 – 52fps. It’s a much smoother experience, but visuals did suffer, especially with buildings, which ended up looking blurry. While this still left Spider-Man Remastered looking better than any game you’d play on the Nintendo Switch, it was distracting, and I preferred sticking to 30fps with better visuals.
Dropping graphic settings to ‘Low’ and dynamic resolution scaling at 60fps, the Steam Deck gets tantalisingly close to 60fps, but not only are textures more blurry, but anti-aliasing is all but wiped out, leaving the world with ugly, jagged lines.
As a PC game, Spider-Man Remastered has plenty of graphical settings amongst the presets to play around with, so with a bit of time, I’m pretty sure you can find a great middle ground between performance and graphics.
Is Spider-Man Remastered worth playing on Steam Deck?
As soon as I heard Spider-Man Remastered was coming to Steam Deck, I couldn’t wait to try it out – and I was not disappointed. After the latest patch, this game looks fantastic and runs really well on the handheld. The game itself is ideally suited to the Steam Deck as well. It’s incredibly fun to swing around New York as Spider-Man, and the story missions and side-missions are often short enough to blast through while travelling, without feeling like you’re being short changed.
While I probably wouldn’t recommend playing it on Steam Deck for your first playthrough, it’s a total blast for people returning to the game, who want to slip back into Spider-Man’s onesie and clobber some bad guys.
Of course, performance and graphics can’t compete with playing the game on a gaming PC or laptop, or on the PS5, but it’s easily one of the best Steam Deck games yet, and Sony’s mission of bringing PlayStation games to Steam and the Steam Deck means I’m no longer praying for a new PSP handheld console – I have something much better with the Steam Deck.
The fact that I can pick up where I left off on my PC when at home, then continue playing on the Steam Deck when out and about, is icing on the cake, and makes me glad I got a Steam Deck, rather than a PS5. Sony’s next-gen console just doesn’t have the flexibility of Valve’s handheld – and it means I only have to buy Spider-Man Remastered once on Steam. I just have to remember to keep a charger nearby.