Ratchet comes to Steam Deck — can Valve’s handheld do justice to PS5’s most demanding game?
Aug 08, 2023
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the game that pushed PS5’s blistering SSD further than any other at time of writing. In fact, the game is so demanding, Insomniac wisely scrapped a planned PS4 version. So how the heck can it run on the Steam Deck?!
The studio tweeted that the upcoming PC port of Ratchet’s latest adventure will not only be playable on Valve’s mini PC (alongside desktops and laptops) now that it's launched, but it will also carry Valve’s official verification. The fact that a game with such seamless loading is coming to aging HDDs is one thing, but it’s borderline unthinkable picturing Rift Apart being playable on the Deck.
And yet here we are. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is Steam Deck Verified. To tick off Valve’s requisite requirements, that means Ratchet will:
“show Steam Deck controller icons"
“the in-game interface text is legible on Steam Deck”
“this game’s default graphics configuration performs well on the Steam Deck” and
“all functionality is accessible when using the default controller configuration”
Let’s not get carried away with the above statements, though. All this means is Valve guarantees the latest Ratchet will physically run on Steam Deck. That’s a whole different argument from it being "pleasantly playable on Steam Deck."
It’s hard not to be a little pessimistic. After all, look at what happened to The Last of Us Part 1 when it was released on PC earlier in the year. Back at launch, Naughty Dog’s remastered classic was a disaster on the best gaming PCs, the best gaming laptops and the Steam Deck.
Sure, it runs okay now thanks to several patches, but Joel and Ellie definitely shouldn’t be the poster children for pushing the Deck’s porting strengths.
It’s hard not to be concerned about the demands Rift Apart will put on the Steam Deck. As one of the best PS5 games, this is one of the most technologically advanced titles on Sony’s new-gen console. More importantly, its biggest selling factor — that new in-game worlds can instantly be streamed into view thanks to the speed of PS5’s NVMe SSD — will be a real challenge to recreate on Steam Deck.
For context, the stock SSD in the Deck offers read speeds of 900 Mbps and write readings of 400 Mbps. These aren’t stellar stats, and they look doubly bad when you factor in how quick the PS5’s default SSD can read and write data.
These are hard numbers to swallow when you consider what the Deck is dealing with. PS5 has a M.2 NVMe SSD that can read uncompressed data at speeds up to 5.5 GB/s. That’s a whole lot faster than the Steam Deck or your average aging gaming PC.
Loading isn’t a gimmick in Rift Apart; it’s the whole ball game. Being able to seamlessly transport between worlds and parallel realities in real-time is sensational, and it makes Ratchet stand out from every other game on PS5 or PC. To this day, no other game has taken better advantage of the PS5’s NVMe drive.
Sony has at least banked up some good will with solid PC ports of both God of War and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection. Yet if Rift Apart is to fully reach its potential on PCs without SSDs and the Steam Deck, Nixxes is going to have to deliver a job on par with its excellent Spider-Man: Remastered port.
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