While Counter-Strike 2 will rightly cater to competitive players on PCs and laptops as a priority, it seems those looking to play a casual game on the Steam Deck are strangely out of luck at the moment. Despite Valve having its hands in the development of both the game and handheld, CS2 simply isn’t in an acceptable state on the Deck right now.
Looking at the game’s store page, all seems well regarding CS2 Steam Deck compatibility. However, we believe this may be an oversight following the transition from CS:GO to Counter-Strike 2, as our testing indicates this isn’t really the case.
Jumping into a game of Deathmatch on Dust 2, it doesn’t take long for problems to arise. The first shot I take it with my MAG-7 freezes the game momentarily for about three seconds, as CS2 scrambles to compile the shaders necessary for it. While this doesn’t happen again with the shotgun, this behavior rears its ugly head with every weapon I fire for the first time.
To make matters worse, performance is not at all where it should be, due to what I can only describe as surprisingly awful optimization. The Steam Deck pushes out 25-35fps at native 800p, using the settings recommended in the game’s menu. This isn’t because the system doesn’t meet the CS2 system requirements, as consulting the PC’s built-in Performance Overlay reveals GPU usage wobbling from 50-70%.
I am shocked to see CS2 launch in the state that it has on Steam Deck, given Valve’s otherwise great track record at supporting its own library on the device. That said, I have no doubt that the company will address these issues promptly, as it’s already deployed some fixes according to Valve coder Pierre-Loup Griffais.
Once these problems are ironed out, we’ll likely see Counter-Strike 2 join the ranks of the best Steam Deck games as another FPS feather in the system’s cap. For now, though, there’s clearly work to be done.