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Can You Play CS2 on Steam Deck? Answered

Wondering if you can play Counter Strike 2 on Steam Deck? Here's our answer after playing it on the device.

Counter Strike 2 is an overhaul of Global Offensive. It’s also a massive engine-level upgrade from Source to Source 2. As a result, it takes your PC a bit more horsepower to run CS2. There have also been a lot of optimizations, whether in GPU utilization or overall performance. But does all that translate into being able to play Counter Strike 2 on Valve’s handheld? Here, we answer the question: Can you play CS2 on Steam Deck?

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Can You Play CS2 on Steam Deck? Answered

Image via Valve

Can you play CS2 on Steam Deck? Yes. But there are some caveats.

I had a hell of a time getting Counter Strike 2 to run on Steam Deck. But after a lot of fiddling, I can say this. While the game works, the Deck isn’t the best place to play CS2. Here are some reasons why.

Why You Shouldn’t Play CS2 on Steam Deck (at Least Right Now)

Performance

First and foremost, the game’s performance on the Deck is incredibly unstable, rarely managing a steady 30fps even at medium-low settings and FSR enabled. If you’ve played any Counter Strike in the past 25 years, you’ll know how horrid that experience would be.

Controls

Additionally, the default control layout doesn’t work. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster that attempts to overlay a controller layout on top of keyboard and mouse controls. And it fails.

  • The only buttons that make sense are the two control sticks and the face buttons. And only in the middle of gameplay.
  • Counter Strike 2 requires you to press R2 to engage the left mouse button unless you settle for using the flighty right trackpad as a mouse.

Related: Can You Play Counter Strike 2 on Mac?

Other Issues: Aiming and UI

There are dozens of other oddities I won’t bore you with. However, just moving around in CS2 on Steam Deck is a nightmare between the frame hitching and the awkward controls. Perhaps the worst problem for playing CS2 on the Deck is that because the game assumes you’re using mouse and keyboard, there’s no aim assist.

I’m against the borderline aimbot masquerading as aim assist in modern shooters like Destiny 2 and Modern Warfare 2. That said, the sticks need a bit of help staying on target. It’s a fact no matter what FPS you’re playing, but it’s especially true in Counter Strike, where precision at any distance is paramount.

While I could get headshots at close-mid range, it was never with the speed or accuracy I would need in an actual match against actual humans. To say I wouldn’t even make Bronze in CS2 on Steam Deck would be generous.

There’s also the UI to consider. The buy menu, as well as settings and main menus in Counter Strike 2, assume mouse and keyboard controls. They make no concessions for an awkward “kind of controller” setup.

So can you play CS2 on Steam Deck? Yes. Should you? No. It performs terribly, doesn’t control much better, and unless you’re hooked into ethernet, don’t expect your connection to be very good. PC remains the only place to play Counter Strike, and there it shall stay. For more, check out our other guides on Valve’s shooter.


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Author
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John Schutt
John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.