The Steam Deck has been out for months, but many hopeful buyers are still waiting on their handheld. Valve hasn’t been idly shipping units, though. The company continues to add games to its list of Deck Verified titles, which Valve itself has verified to work with the Deck.

This list is mainly focused on games that you can’t play on another handheld (and in some cases, on any other platform). Although Deck Verified games offer the best experience, there are thousands of additional titles that still work on the Steam Deck. Make sure to read our roundup of the best Steam Deck games for a few options. To get the most out of your new handheld, here are the Steam Deck Verified games you should play first.

A Steam Deck sitting on top of a PC.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

If you want one game to play first on your Steam Deck, it’s Elden RingIt’s the frontrunner for the best game of 2022, and it was among the first batch of titles Valve added to the Deck Verified program. Exclusively released on consoles and PC, Elden Ring is an open-world game that’s stuffed to the brim with secrets, bosses, and puzzles. Developer From Software is known for the Dark Souls series and similar Soulslike games, and Elden Ring brings the same level of brutal difficulty. The Steam Deck eases the burden a bit, though, allowing you to adventure in short bursts instead of banging your head against a tough boss.

A big reason the Steam Deck is so exciting is that it allows you to play games that would otherwise only be available on PC. Valheim is a prime example. This open-world survival game made massive waves when it launched in early 2021, but it hasn’t made its way to consoles. The Steam Deck allows you to take it on the go. In Valheim, you adventure in a procedurally generated world with up to nine friends, discovering new territory, finding new resources, and encountering devastating monsters inspired by Norse mythology. Valheim is endless, and that’s the perfect type of game for the Steam Deck.

It was a long shot that we would ever see God of War on PC, but it’s not only available on PC, it’s Deck Verified, too. This cinematic reboot catches up with Kratos years after the original trilogy, and it succeeds in creating an experience that goes well beyond hacking and slashing. Enhanced for PC, God of War is extremely demanding, so don’t expect top-tier visuals and performance on the Steam Deck. If you follow our God of War PC performance guide, though, you can optimize your game for Valve’s handheld.

Unless you have a PlayStation Vita kicking around, the only way to play Persona 4 Golden on the go is with the Steam Deck. It’s one of the best JRPGs ever made, combining the series’ signature life sim mechanics with procedurally generated dungeons and an enthralling narrative that will keep you entertained for around 100 hours. The Steam version comes with additional graphics options, including higher frame rates and resolutions, and the Steam Deck is more than capable of taking advantage of both. If you haven’t played Persona 4 Golden, the Steam Deck is the perfect platform to start. And if you have, Valve’s handheld gives you a reason to revisit one of the best RPGs of all time.

Noita is a lot like Valheim: A PC gem that unfortunately hasn’t made its way to consoles. It’s a procedurally generated roguelike game, but it’s not just another platformer. In Noita, you track down spells that you can combine to create unique magical abilities. Every pixel in the game is physically simulated, too, turning your spells into devastating weapons that literally shape the world around you. It’s a roguelike, but instead of mastering mechanics to make it further along, Noita gives you a unique sandbox to play on each run. It’s the perfect format for the Steam Deck, allowing you to jump in and mess around for a few spare minutes or go deep on crafting your inventory for a perfect run.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a game you can get lost in on the Steam Deck. Several Yakuza titles are Deck Verified, but Like a Dragon is the best. It flips the series format on its head, going with turn-based combat and a traditional JRPG progression system. It takes notes from Persona, too, introducing bonds with your other party members that can give you advantages in battle. That doesn’t mean the usual Yakuza flare is lost. Like a Dragon is still silly as can be, and it packs in dozens of minigames to keep you entertained between story beats. Download Yakuza: Like a Dragon on your Steam Deck, and it might be the only game you play for a month or more.

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