10 Best Free Games for Steam Deck

best free games on Steam Deck

So, you’ve decided to purchase a Steam Deck. Excellent choice. Valve’s handheld console and Nintendo Switch competitor has taken the world by storm over the past couple of years, giving players a legitimate and easy means to play their vast library of Steam games on a portable device that isn’t a massive Alienware laptop. Are Alienware even still a good name in PC gaming anymore? Regardless, we’ll take a lovely Steam Deck with those sweet air vent fumes over a massive laptop that gives you a hernia any time you pick it up.

Buying a Steam Deck isn’t a cheap process however, as purchasing one will set you back a couple of hundred pounds/dollars/smackaroos, so when your Deck finally arrives, you’ll probably want to spare as many pennies as possible on new games. While there’s a wide array of free-to-play games on Steam that you could get started with, there’s a lot of trash to sift through, so thankfully for you, we’ve gone ahead and waded through the hundreds of lewd titles to find you the best free Steam Deck titles you can play right now.


10. Apex Legends

Apex Legends Fuse
Apex Legends

Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts

There’s a plethora of free to play multiplayer shooters available on Steam, and while Valve lists Counter-Strike 2 as playable on the Deck, those thumbsticks aren’t going to be a match for some Gfuel drinking sweat who’s two ranks away from signing with Astralis or FaZe Clan. That doesn’t mean you should swear off all multiplayer shooters though, as games like Apex Legends, which have been proven to work on mobile or the Nintendo Switch, offer a much better portable experience on the Steam Deck.

A team-based hero shooter battle royale, Apex Legends has been around for over five years at this point, bringing with it plenty of new characters, modes and maps. Is it a perfect game? Far from it, and you’re probably going to run into your fair share of better players who’ve been no-lifing the game for half a decade, but it’s still one of the most fun shooters you can play once you find your own special sociopath to play as.

Sliding down hills, shooting fellow players and using cool abilities, all on a piece of kit you can fit in the pocket of your hoodie. An oversized hoodie, but still. Just be wary of some of the cosmetic prices, which are absolutely beyond the pale.


9. Warframe


Developer: Digital Extremes
Publisher: Digital Extremes

In an industry where live service titles get shut down when the player base drops even just a little bit, there have been few free-to-play games that perhaps have had staying power that Warframe has enjoyed. It’s the little game that could, still going strong after over a decade, and what’s perhaps most amazing about Warframe is how its success has seemingly only increased in the years since the game’s release, with Digital Extremes going above and beyond to provide content updates to the entire community.

Playing as a Tenno, an ancient race of warriors who travel into space to take on the various alien races and factions of the Origin System. Warframe utilizes a wide range of gameplay styles, including guns, parkour and fast-paced melee weapons, along with lots of PvE objectives to complete. There’s even open world sections that you can traverse with a hoverboard, if you feel like playing Warframe Pro Skater.

If you want to hop into an amazing sci-fi jack of all trades that works great on Steam Deck, Warframe is the game for you.


8. The Sims 4

The Sims 4
The Sims 4

Developer: Maxis
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Okay, The Sims 4 might not be the best example of a free game for your Steam Deck, as you’ll probably need to buy quite a few expansions if you want to get the most out of the game. There’s bloody loads of them, and Maxis are showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. That said, if you’re looking for the best of the best in management simulations that also happen to be free to download and work great on the Steam Deck, The Sims 4 should be one of the first games you install.

A game that really needs no introduction at this point, The Sims 4 is the perfect way to lie to yourself about only playing a game for half an hour, only to blink and four hours have passed because you’re totally invested. Who needs sleep when you’re inches away from that promotion in your Sim’s career? In fairness to the game’s compatibility on the Steam Deck, some might think that the controller-based inputs pale in comparison to a mouse and keyboard, but the Steam Deck’s additional back buttons, track pads and touchscreen mean you’ve got plenty of options before you decide to just plug in a mouse and keyboard anyway.


7. The Murder Of Sonic The Hedgehog

Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA

As mentioned in the intro, trying to find your way through the free section of Steam’s store pages is just going to lead you into a quagmire of lewd visual novels that are precisely why Valve added the option to hide games from your library. We see you. Anyway, beyond the games you’d play one handed, there’s plenty of silly visual novels that are free and are perfect for the Deck, like I Love You Colonel Sanders, Lovers of Aether or, our pick for this list, The Murder Of Sonic The Hedgehog.

Released on April Fool’s Day like all good comedic visual novels are, The Murder Of Sonic The Hedgehog sees the Blue Blur actually taken out at Amy’s murder mystery birthday party, which just so happens to take place on a swanky train. As one of the staff on the train, you’ll have to work together with the now expired Hedgehog’s friends to work out who the killer really was.

But is there more to this mystery than meets the eye? Those are questions you’ll need to find the answers to in one of Sonic’s weirdest ever games, but also thankfully one of its freest.


6. Naraka: Bladepoint

Naraka Bladepoint
Naraka Bladepoint

Developer: 24 Entertainment
Publisher: NetEase

There’s no shortage of multiplayer shooters and battle royale games on Steam, but if you’re hoping to compete with the best of the best, doing so on Steam Deck might not be completely feasible. Again, it’s the thumbsticks versus mouse and keyboard debate, but it’s in that debate where a game like Naraka: Bladepoint manages to carve out a wonderful niche. Instead of focusing on guns, Naraka is a melee focused battle royale, taking its inspiration from Chinese martial arts, weaponry and mythology.

In terms of battle royale games, Naraka: Bladepoint doesn’t do much differently, with a map slowly being choked by an encroaching fog as players are forced into conflict with each other. What makes Naraka: Bladepoint compelling is how satisfying the combat feels, as what could have been a brainless multiplayer slasher becomes a tense clash when two evenly matched opponents face off.

You know, until they get third party’d by another squad 200 meters away in a bush, all armed with bows. No honor, none at all.


5. Marvel Snap

Marvel Snap
Marvel Snap

Developer: Second Dinner Studios, Inc.
Publisher: Nuverse

There’s genuine narcotics out there which aren’t as addictive as Marvel Snap, the collectible card game featuring all your favorite superheroes and villains not tied to the Justice League side of comics. Considering Marvel Snap is a collectible card game with microtransactions, your chances of winning are always greatly improved when you start throwing a bunch of money at the game on card packs and the like, but even if you’re playing the game for free, you can still have a whale of a time with Marvel Snap, as players can earn card packs pretty regularly just by playing the game.

Touted as one of the best card games on the market today, Marvel Snap lets players build a deck of 12 cards, each representing an iconic hero or villain from the Marvel multiverse, and with matches only taking a couple of minutes, it’s easy to find yourself saying “just one more match” for 10 matches too many. While it might not be the Steam Deck game to play while you’re commuting, considering you need an online connection to play against other players, Marvel Snap is still a great game to unwind with after work. You may need to do some tinkering to get it work, mind you, but a few minutes of adjusting settings for hours of fun seems like a fair trade.


4. Brawlhalla


Developer: Blue Mammoth Games
Publisher: Ubisoft, Blue Mammoth Games

The Steam Deck might be superior to the Nintendo Switch in a lot of ways, but one area where the Switch has the Deck beat is in the fact that it has Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The undisputed king of the platform fighter genre, there’s no beating Smash Bros. in that regard, but Steam does offer some decent alternatives. Sure, not all of them are available for free, but if you’re looking for great competitive platform fighting without breaking the bank, Brawlhalla is a solid recommendation.

Following the same rules as other games in the genre, Brawlhalla is all about trying to knock your opponents off the map, with enemies being launched further the more damage they take. There’s a huge roster of characters available, with plenty of guest characters and collab costumes if you feel like seeing Rick Grimes fighting Xavier Woods and Rayman. Instead of unique movesets though, each character utilizes certain weapons that have their own moves, making it an easy game to learn, but tough to truly master.


3. Doki Doki Literature Club

Doki Doki Literature Club
Doki Doki Literature Club

Developer: Team Salvato
Publisher: Team Salvato

Yes, we’re doing two visual novels in one list, but Doki Doki Literature Club is no mere visual novel. Those who’ve already played the game, or seen the game mentioned on a variety of lists from other outlets, will know that Doki Doki Literature Club has to be seen to be believed. Without spoiling anything for those who are yet to play or hear about DDLC, the story goes “places”, and the experience will stick with you long after the credits have rolled and the final act has concluded.

The premise is pretty simple, all things considered. You’re the new kid in school, you’re trying to join the school’s literature club and there’s a few cute girls you’re looking to date. Sounds good so far? Yeah, we were all that naive once. Admittedly, playing the free version of Doki Doki Literature Club on Steam Deck has its own quirks and charm compared to playing on PC, as you’ll need to make use of a variety of features regarding the Steam Deck as a whole in order to complete DDLC.


2. Aperture Desk Job

Aperture Desk Job
Aperture Desk Job

Developer: Valve
Publisher: Valve

It’s always great to spend more time in the world of Portal, which lists among the funniest video game franchises of all time. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’ve got a good grasp over everything your new Steam Deck is capable of, which is why Aperture Desk Job is one of the best free games you could play on your Deck. Sure, it might not be Portal 3, but if we keep banging the drum about how awesome the world of Portal is, we might get that third game in the series eventually, right? Maybe?


As the name implies, you control a new employee at Aperture Science, working behind a desk to make sure those tests are in tip top condition. Aperture Desk Job isn’t a long game by any means, perhaps being most comparable to the PS5’s Astro’s Playroom in that it’s more about showcasing the handhelds’s capabilities and all its unique little quirks, but you’re still guaranteed to have a blast playing through Desk Job.

But seriously though, Valve. Stop messing about and make Portal 3.


1. Path of Exile

Path of Exile
Path of Exile

Developer: Grinding Gear Games
Publisher: Grinding Gear Games

Action RPGs like Diablo have made themselves at home on PC for a long time now, so naturally there are plenty to sink your teeth into that are playable on the Steam Deck too. However, not many of them are actually free to play, which is why a game like Path of Exile has managed to become so enduringly popular with the PC community. Not only is it a free action RPG that you could sink hundreds of hours into, it’s also an incredibly good game in general, and one that works well on the Steam Deck. You might need to tweak a couple of settings, but it runs at a smooth 60fps, which is exactly what you’d want.

A hardcore RPG made in the same mold as games like Diablo 2, Path of Exile has been around for over a decade, and even though there’s a sequel on the way, developers Grinding Gear games have stated that they’ll be updating PoE1 for the foreseeable future. Path of Exile has already received over 30 expansions already, all of which are there for players to enjoy completely free.

How can you argue with a deal like that? You’ll probably still find a way in the comments.

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