Battle.net takes some tinkering, but Diablo IV itself is deeply Deck-friendly
As well as it runs on your average desktop PC, it wasn’t until I began playing Diablo IV on the Steam Deck that its demon-thwacking really clicked for me. Largely because this was my first experience of it with gamepad controls, and using thumbsticks and face buttons to move and toss out spells just feels more... I don't know, direct? Like I’m actually controlling my Necromancer and her boney bodyguards, not just clicking a unit and watching their animations.
It helps that Diablo IV’s Steam Deck performance is surprisingly spry, with fast 45-60fps framerates within reach even when leaving the majority of graphics settings on Ultra quality. Unlike all of the other best Steam Deck games, there’s no native support for its Battle.net launcher, but with some resourcefulness, that needs only be a temporary barrier.
Tell you what, let’s address this setting-up process first. As it’s only found on Battle.net, you can’t just buy and boot Diablo IV on the SteamOS handheld – but there’s also nothing about the game itself that renders it fully incompatible, as is the case with certain Battle.net stablemates like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and its its Ricochet anti-cheat. If you can get Battle.net working, you can get Diablo IV working.
Our guide to installing Battle.net on the Steam Deck has all the details, but in short, you’ve a choice of two methods. One involves leaning on Proton GE to make the launcher’s Windows installer behave itself on SteamOS, while the other employs Lutris: an all-in-one compatibility hub that can make your GOG and Humble Bundle libraries playable on the Steam Deck as well. There are pros and cons to each – I prefer the Proton GE method, as Lutris is essentially a launcher of launchers that adds an extra step when starting up games, though I’ll concede that the latter’s installation is generally simpler.
Both approaches will end in Diablo IV becoming fully playable on SteamOS, which leaves just one more concern: its always-online requirement. Unless you intend on leashing your Steam Deck to your phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot, or dragging a Starlink dish around on wheels, this will unfortunately limit when and where you can perform some handheld hellspawn removal. It's mainly back at home, on the sofa, bed, or during an extremely risky bath, where you'll be Deck-ing.
Diablo IV’s battery drain is on the high side, though also decent-ish for a AAA behemoth. With display brightness and speaker volume both at 50%, I could play for 1h 47m before running dry, and that was with no other power-saving measures in place, like limiting the screen’s refresh rate.
Frankly, this is one you’ll want to keep at 60Hz. For a game with no official Steam Deck support, Diablo IV adapts to the hardware brilliantly. The gamepad controls, again, feel great, and even the relatively dinky text and prompts are easily readable on the Deck’s native 1280x800p resolution. Performance, in most areas, is impressively silky as well. Diablo IV defaults to Low settings on the Steam Deck but you can whack most of these up and still get a solid 60fps in plenty of dungeons, small towns, and stretches of wilderness.
My recommended settings for PC are ideal for the Deck too, with one addition: FSR 2 upscaling. Keep this on its Quality mode and there isn’t much of a sharpness downgrade at all, keeping everything legible while helping massively to keep Diablo IV at that 60fps level. The only times I’ve seen it drop significantly on these settings have been while exploring major hub cities or during the most chaotic dungeon dive monster fights. And even then, it’s the worst you can expect is something like 45-50fps, which is still more than sufficient for smoothness.
Diablo IV: best settings for the Steam Deck
- FSR 2: Quality
- Shadow Quality: Medium
- SSAO Quality: Low
- Fog Quality: Low
- Clutter Quality: Medium
- Geometric Complexity: Low
- Everything else: Ultra preset equivalent
And that’s that, really. No weird sound or video bugs to report, no other must-have settings changes to get it working. Diablo IV may not be the most mentally rewarding of RPGs, but once Battle.net is brought to heel, it suits the Steam Deck as much as any other out there.