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Dead Island 2 on Steam Deck Performance
Dead Island 2 isn’t currently available on Steam. You probably already figured that out. That means the Steam Deck’s only option is to install Dead Island 2 through the Epic Store. This process isn’t as streamlined as buying a Steam game and it just works, but don’t let that put you off. I was able to get Dead Island 2 up and running in around 20 minutes, and that’s only because I was trying out different Proton versions to see which works best. For you, it’ll be much faster if you follow my guide linked above.
So, how is Dead Island 2 performance on Steam Deck? Surprisingly, it’s really solid.
Games from the Epic Store have a habit of being hit and miss on Steam Deck. I was never able to get the Epic versions of The Last of Us or Calisto Protocol working, but Dead Island 2 works with minimal tinkering.
Performance isn’t ever going to be a smooth 60 frames per second. That’s down to Dead Island featuring detailed textures, stunning lighting, and a host of killer visuals. It’s simply too advanced for the hardware the Steam Deck offers. There is, however, a saving grace: Dead Island 2 was designed with last-gen consoles in mind (PS4 and Xbox One in this case), which means it’s able to run on lower-specced hardware, hence why this version runs so well on the Deck.
The choices I found here are you can either go with a solid 30 frames per second with some of the settings on medium, or you can drop everything down to low and play at mostly 40 to 45 frames per second.
I ended up sticking with the latter. Dead Island 2, even on low, looks better than the majority of the Steam Deck games out there. Plus when you’re playing on the Steam Deck’s smaller screen, those extra details gained from the higher settings are mostly lost. The game will be running at 800p (or 720p docked), so the extra power isn’t really needed.
One thing I do need to stress, the framerate will be all over the place at times. It’s mostly 40 to 45, and sometimes higher when indoors, but in the open world, expect drops as low as 33 frames while the game rights itself.
Although the drops are frequent, they don’t ruin the experience. Dead Island 2 feels like it’s been optimized to run on lesser hardware and handles the erratic framerate well. Rarely do the drops get in the way of the gameplay. And, to be honest, most of the time I was focused on what was happening in-game to even register the drops. I’m fairly confident that’s how most are going to feel.
So long as you go in expecting a Steam Deck version of Dead Island 2 and not the, say, PS5 version, you’ll come away happy.
Dead Island 2 on Steam Deck Settings
My settings below are what I used to get a mostly 40 to 45 frames experience; with high 40s and low 50s during indoor areas.
Why so many low settings? During my testing, I found most of the GPU-heavy settings made a big difference. Want to lose four frames? Turn on Temporal AA and you’ll see what I mean. It’s the same story for most of the options. Go above low and the framerate is almost instantly worse.
And here’s the kicker: It’s hard to notice any difference on the Steam Deck’s 800p screen. Sure, things look slightly more crisp and vibrant, but not enough to justify the lower framerate.
It’s also worth keeping in mind Dead Island 2 is using up almost 90 percent of the GPU even on low. Upping anything is going to put more strain on an already nearly-full GPU, which can result in problems. Plus the battery drain is already at 19.1 watts on average, so let’s not push it any further, yeah?
|Dead Island 2 (In-game Settings)|
|Fullscreen Resolution||1280×800 (16:10)|
|Screen Space Reflections||Low|
|AMD Fidelity FX|
|AMD Fidelity FX Super Resolution 2||Quality|
|Steam Deck Settings (Quick Access Menu)|
|TDP: 11||Estimated Battery Life: 1 Hour 40 Minutes|
|Docked Mode Resolution: 1280×720||FSR: On (Docked Mode)|
|GPU Usage: 89%||Temperature: 69 degrees|
|Fills the Entire Steam Deck Screen||Yes|
|Valve Grading||Not Available on Steam|
|Recommended Proton Version||Wine-GE-Proton7-42|
|Performance Rating: 3/5|
Bugs and Issues
Due to the fact we’re running a Window game on Steam and don’t have Valve’s version of Proton to work with, issues are to be expected. I haven’t suffered a crash yet, but I know it’s coming.
I also spent a lot of time working out which Proton version works best. Running Dead Island 2 with Proton 7 results in problems, as does the latest Wine-GE versions. Thankfully, Wine-GE-Proton7-42 works a treat.
These issues range from the game not booting to picking a slay resulting in a crash. Wine-GE-Proton7-42, so far, fixes all the problems I had.
I also couldn’t add Dead Island 2 as a non-Steam game in the Heroic Games Launcher. I’m not sure what’s causing this issue either but I’ll keep you posted if I find a solution.
Dead Island 2 is currently my Game of the Year. It’s not a modern tech showcase with sluggish gameplay. It’s something that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is pure mindless fun. It’s a game that’s designed to be played rather than experienced then made into a movie or TV show. It’s for people who just want endless, bloody chaos.
Although I’m certain a Valve-certified Dead Island 2 would perform better on the Steam Deck, and would remove the minor problems getting it up and running brings, the Epic Store version is as close to the real thing as is possible right now.
Performance is solid, the game stuns, and the gore effects still feel crunchy on the Steam Deck. Expect crashes, sure, but if you can’t wait for the Steam version of Dead Island 2, you’re safe to go ahead and grab the Epic Store version.
All images captured on Steam Deck. Review code provided by Epic Games.