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Is Horizon Forbidden West Steam Deck compatible?

Horizon Forbidden West is the latest PlayStation game to launch on Steam, but its official Steam Deck compatibility is currently unknown.

The Horizon Forbidden West character, Sylens, looking to the left, on the screen of a Steam Deck.

Is Horizon Forbidden West Steam Deck compatible?
Despite being quietly confident that Horizon Forbidden West would run on Steam Deck, Valve has deemed the game unplayable, but our testing has captured performance that is more that suitable for a handheld gaming PC.

The Horizon Forbidden West system requirements demand a humongous 130GB worth of storage space. Picking up one of the best microSD cards for Steam Deck will ensure you’re able to start exploring the Forbidden West, and that you’re prepared for whatever storage space demands are thrown your way.

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Is Horizon Forbidden West Steam Deck compatible?

Horizon Forbidden West is unsupported for Steam Deck as Valve believes there is no way to configure the graphical settings to obtain good performance.

We, however, believe the game is playable after our time testing the game and refining the game settings on Steam Deck.

The previous game in the series, Horizon Zero Dawn, is currently on the Steam platform with a ‘Verified’ commendation from Valve. It also speaks volumes that PS5 PC ports like Days Gone, God of War, and Death Stranding are also Deck Verified. Returnal is one outlier that remains unsupported on Steam Deck, although it can still be played, and works well with the AMD FSR 3 frame generation mod. This makes it all the more puzzling that Forbidden West is unable to qualify for even a playable rating.

One feature that works in Horizon Forbidden West’s favor is the inclusion of Nvidia DLSS 3,  AMD FSR 3, and Intel XeSS from day one. These upscaling tools are often key to getting great performance in demanding games on Steam Deck.

Best Horizon Forbidden West settings for Steam Deck

Here are the best Horizon Forbidden West settings for Steam Deck, tried and tested on the Steam Deck OLED.

  • Display Resolution: 1280×800
  • VSync: On
  • Dynamic Resolution Scaling: Off
  • Upscale Method: AMD FSR 2.2
  • Upscale Quality: Balanced
  • Texture Quality: High
  • Texture Filtering: Trilinear
  • Shadow Quality: Low
  • Screen Space Occlusion: Off
  • Ambient Occlusion: SSAO
  • Screen Space Reflections: Off
  • Level of Detail: Medium
  • Hair Quality: Low
  • Terrain Quality: Low
  • Water Quality: Low
  • Clouds Quality: Low
  • Translucency Quality: Default
  • Parallax Occlusion Mapping: Off
  • Field of View: 10
  • Depth of Field: Off
  • Bloom: On
  • Motion Blur Stregnth: 0
  • Sharpness: 3
  • Lens Flares: Off
  • Vignette: Off
  • Radial Blur: On
  • Chromatic Aberration: On

With the above settings, we achieved a 35fps average, which topped out at 45fps in quieter areas. There were some noticeable drops in larger areas when big combat encounters would start, but this is to be expected with a game of Horizon Forbidden West’s scale.

It’s hard to say that Horizon Forbidden West is completely optimized for Steam Deck, with the default settings proving to be quite far off where we landed after testing. To earn a verified rating, the game essentially needs to be perfect from the moment you boot it up, which isn’t the case here. It’s also worth noting that we used the Proton Experimental compatibility tool to complete our testing.

The main issue preventing better performance is the GPU bottlenecking. Regardless of what level of settings we chose, the GPU was almost always operating at 95% or higher, while the CPU often sat below 65%.

RAM usage is also quite high, with Horizon Forbidden West frequently using up to 12.5GB, while VRAM demands can fluctuate between lows of 4GB and highs of 8GB.

Horizon Forbidden West continues its power-hungry rampage on the Steam Deck battery too. It is almost always drawing over 22W during gameplay, meaning you’ll get around 2 hours of play from a full charge on the OLED.

Further updates and optimizations would be welcome, but the settings we decided on are more than playable and make for a great experience, provided you can overlook the occasional loading stutters and certain low-res effects like with fire and water.

With performance like this, Horizon Forbidden West could be among the best Steam Deck games once it’s officially rated. In the meantime, pick up one of the best Steam Deck docks to unlock the full potential of your favorite PC gaming handheld.