The Star Wars Jedi: Survivor experience on PC is, at least here on release day, a generally pleasurable Far Far Away fantasy marred by some ugly performance issues. After a few hours’ worth of attempts to get it running on the Steam Deck, I can now – with a face similar to that of Ewan McGregor cry-laughing over child murder – report that Jedi: Survivor is in even worse condition on the handheld. It’s unplayable.
Moment-to-moment performance simply isn’t good enough to enjoy with any degree of comfort, and that’s even assuming that you can make it past the introduction scene without it crashing. I can’t, and using the magic of cloud saves to hop into later stages, it’s clear that neither framerates nor stability improve as the game goes on. Instead of my original plan for a handheld-specific settings guide, then, allow me to reel off the many and varied reasons to stay away from Star Wars: Jedi: on the Steam Deck.
The first isn’t a technical problem per se, but Jedi: Survivor’s mammoth 155GB storage requirement is bad news for lower-specced Steam Decks that are yet to be upgraded with expandable storage. It’s much too chunky to fit on the base model’s 64GB internal drive, and will eat the lion’s share of the 256GB model’s SSD space as well. Pairing your Steam Deck with a microSD card gets around this, though in Jedi: Survivor’s current state, it’s not worth installing in the first place.
See, as much as I complained about its performance on desktop PCs in that other article, Jedi: Survivor generally manages to avoid crashing on them (unless you try running it on ancient or otherwise weak graphics cards and CPUs). On the Steam Deck, by contrast, it’s constantly breaking down, and so comprehensively that it drags the entire OS into unresponsiveness, forcing a reset. Not once have I managed to play for more than about a minute and half, on rock bottom quality settings, before it shudders to a halt and turns the screen black.
This happened in the intro on Coruscant, it happened on the first big hub planet, it happened in Cal Kestis’ ship while travelling between worlds, and sometimes it happened before it could so much as finish loading a save file. This instability alone makes Jedi: Survivor a non-starter (almost literally) on the Steam Deck, and even if I could play for more than a few moments at a time, what I have seen suggests it’s miles off achieving a steady 30fps. A full collection of Low settings, plus the fastest but messiest-looking Ultra Performance setting on FSR 2, is only enough to launch into the opening cutscene at a paltry 15fps. This picked up to about 20-25fps once I’d gained control of Cal, but it never looked like rising higher than that before the inevitable crash a few steps later.
Switching to a different save, the one I’d used for benchmarking Jedi: Survivor on desktop, it ran even worse, huffing along at 15-20fps. Before crashing. So far the only place I’ve been able to get above 45fps is the cramped workshop the rear of the ship, where Cal can customise the colour of his RGB gaming lightsaber. But you can’t do much Jedi surviving from there, so it’s little consolation.
I’ve also noticed that the Deck’s native 1280×800 resolution isn’t being applied correctly after choosing it in the display settings. Although it’s not instantly noticeable while pushing our ginger Jedi lad around, on some menu screens and even on the ship’s galaxy map, text and prompts will run off the left and right edges of the screen. 1280×720 seems to work okay, but 800p just nudges these UI elements out of place.
Lord, it’s just all so broken. But can it be fixed? EA tweeted earlier this week that Jedi: Survivor will receive numerous bug-stomping and performance-helping updates, and Valve have previously launched Proton updates that give little performance and stability boosts to certain games on the Steam Deck. It’s within the bounds of possibility that this particular game’s fortunes could be at the very least improved, even if it takes a few weeks.
Right now, though, I wouldn’t bother. Until EA and developers Respawn can conjure up some meaningful upgrades, Jedi: Survivor is joining Returnal and The Last of Us Part 1 in the Steam Deck sin bin.