Sons of the Forest on Steam Deck: Performance and Settings

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How well does Sons of the Forest run on Steam Deck and how close to 60 frames can you get? Let’s find out.

Sons of the Forest Performance

Screenshot showing Sons of the Forest running on Steam Deck with RetroResolve's settings.Screenshot showing Sons of the Forest running on Steam Deck with settings left to the default.

Left: Custom settings/Right: Default settings.

I need to get this out first, Sons of the Forest is an early access title. That means, it’s not going to play like a finished product. You have been warned.

So, let’s talk performance. Sons of the Forest on Steam Deck suffers from poor performance at the moment, but it’s not anywhere near as bad as I was expecting.

It’s not a Deck-ready game, but it can be played from start to finish on the handheld.

Let’s break it down some: On medium settings, the framerate averages between 25 and 30 FPS, with 27 being the most common amount of frames. Despite appearing this close to 30, it doesn’t feel like it’s anywhere near.

The screen constantly feels like it’s struggling to keep up with all the foliage, moving water streams, and items littering the floor.

Thankfully, there is a solution. Dropping everything down to low doesn’t really make that much of a difference. The visuals drop, but the framerate still hovers around the sub-30 mark. The trick, I found, was to turn the in-game texture resolution all the way down to an eighth.

As it turns out, cranking vsync down to 30 hertz appears to provide a solid frame boost according to the in-game frame counter. However, after chatting with Noah Kupetsky of SteamDeckHQ, it turns out MangoHud is giving out false readings, so while it says 50 to 60 frames, that isn’t the case.

Of course, dropping the texture resolution means your visuals won’t be as crisp as they should be, but Sons of the Forest isn’t all about looks, it’s about gameplay. And the gameplay is still very much there to be enjoyed. I also found I suffered fewer crashes with the lower texture resolution, but at the moment I’d suggest treating that as anecdotal. There are a lot of different factors at play here when it comes to crashes so I wouldn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.

It is also possible to stablize the framerate further with the dynamic resolution feature (shown in the screenshot below), but that’s perhaps taking things too far, and the end result is a soupy mess.

Sons of the Forest Steam Deck Settings – 30 FPS

Screenshot of Sons of the Forest on Steam Deck with dynamic resolution turned on.

Sons of the Forest on Steam Dek with dynamic resolution turned on (don’t do this).

The target for these settings is around the 30 frames-per-second mark with the occasional dips, and indoor areas running at a shake 40 to 45 frames per second. 60 frames per second just isn’t possible at the moment.

As noted above, the texture resolution setting is the key to performance here. Untouched, the highest I could get during my testing was 30 frames, and that wasn’t stable at all. With these settings below, you should be in for a slightly more smooth ride in terms of frames for the most part.

I also want to note, as this is an early access game, I’ll be coming back to it periodically to update the performance and settings part of this review. So if you come back in the future and things look different, that’s why.

Sons of the Forest (In-game Settings)
Resolution 1280×800
Fullscreen Exclusive Fullscreen
Vsync 60hz
Max FPS 60
Quality Preset Low
Draw Distance Low
Ambient Occlusion Low
Fog Quality Low
Anisotrpic Textures Off
Shadow Quality Low
Clouds Low
Grass Low
Water Low
Parallax Distance Low
Billboard Quality Low
Texture Resolution Eighth
Anti Aliasing Off
Dynamic Resoluton Off
Bloom Off
Screen Space Reflection Off
Motion Blur Off
Micro Shading Off
Contact Shadow Off
Chromatic Aberration Off
Steam Deck Settings (Quick Access Menu)
TDP: 12 (27 to 30 frames) Estimated Battery Life: 90 Minutes
Docked Mode Resolution: 1280×700 FSR: On (Docked Mode)
GPU Usage: 99% Temperature: 74 degrees
Extra Info
Fills the Entire Steam Deck Screen Yes
Valve Grading Unknown
Performance Rating: 1/5

Sons of the Forest Bugs and Issues

I’m not sure where to even start with this. Expect plenty of crashes, characters spawning inside copies of themselves, things breaking unexpectedly, menus will stop functioning, some more crashes – the list is near endless at the moment.

But as this is an early access title, those teething problems are to be expected, and if all goes to plan, will be fixed over time as the game evolves.

Developer Endnight’s previous game The Forest runs brilliantly on the Steam Deck, and while Sons of the Forest is clearly more ambitious than the first, there are early signs that Valve’s handheld should be able to run it decently somewhere down the line.


This is all fairly negative so far, but there is a reason for that. If we’re focusing on the overall performance and the best settings for Sons of the Forest, of course there are going to be a lot of negatives for a game that’s not been out that long.

But despite the poor performance, Sons of the Forest is the definition of captivating. It’s a thinker’s game that begs the player to explore and then punishes them for being too gungho. There’s a lot to dig into, and a lot of room for growth.

At the moment, I can’t recommend Sons of the Forest without multiple caveats because it’s not reached its final form. But as time goes on, and as more updates come rolling in, Sons of the Forest has the potential to be this year’s Steam Deck breakout hit.

As mentioned earlier, I plan on updating this guide as the game evolves, so be sure to check back in with RetroResolve whenever there’s a new update to see what has and hasn’t changed.

Version tested on Steam Deck/All images captured on Steam Deck hardware

Wesley Copeland
Wesley Copeland

Wesley Copeland is a gaming, tech, and toys journalist with over 10 years of experience writing online. Originally starting in video games before specializing in tech and toys, you can find his bylines at IGN, VG24/7, Kotaku, Tech Radar, Games Radar, PC Gamer, Heavy, and many more. He's also highly passionate about how tech can be used to better our day-to-day lives.