In an interview with Valve on Thursday, members of the Steam Deck team told me that everything is on track for the planned February launch. While we mostly talked about the Steam Deck hardware and Valve's work to prepare the Steam Deck for other developers, Valve also shared some plans for its own games. Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and the Half-Life series are all getting updates designed to make them better experiences on the Steam Deck.
Multiple Valve game development teams are involved in the effort, but how the games are being updated for the Steam Deck varies.
“The Dota [team] is doing something pretty innovative, at least within the context of Dota,” designer Greg Coomer says. “Just this past week, they shipped a new mode that allows players to play the game well using thumbsticks.” The update also included the return of a 4-player co-op mode that seems well-suited to the control scheme.
Designer Lawrence Yang elaborates: “They call it experimental controller support because they're still looking for feedback, but you can play a real game of Dota with the gamepad now.”
Diehard Steam Controller fans have probably been using gyro aiming in CS:GO for years, but the Steam Deck update will tighten up some fit and finish elements in CS:GO's controller support. Coomer described it as an update of things like the radial menus that haven't been touched in a long time. “The team is really giving that renewed polish and design intention,” he said.
Coomer said Valve is bringing a “bunch” of tweaks to Half-Life, though it sounds like here it's less about controlling Gordon Freeman and more about navigating menus and such. “Even if the core experience in Half-Life games is pretty polished with a controller, a lot of things around the experience tend to either get left out or not be brought to the same level of polish over time,” he said. All the Half-Life games should be getting updates, though they may not all drop at once.
Yang added that the Portal games are already verified on Steam Deck and work nicely on the handheld, but Left 4 Dead 2 may be getting some attention as well. “I think we do want to look at all of the Valve catalog to make sure things are good on Deck,” he said.