Baldur's Gate 3 out now and works on Steam Deck and desktop Linux
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Baldur's Gate 3 out now and works on Steam Deck and desktop Linux

Sep 11, 2023

For those interested in the latest big RPG from Larian Studios, here's my quick initial report on Baldur's Gate 3 running on Steam Deck and desktop Linux. Keep in mind this is just some initial testing thoughts - it's a very big game.

The first and most important thing: right now it appears you're going to want Proton Experimental set on it. You can install it from your Steam Library, and then go into the game's Properties -> Compatibility -> Tick the box and select Proton Experimental from the drop-down that appears. Otherwise, you're likely to see a bunch of crashing issues. Currently Valve has it set to Proton 7 which is somewhat old now as that was tested for verification back in September 2022 when it was in Early Access. Update 04/08/23 - Valve released an update to Proton Hotfix for it so you may wish to now use that.

Pictured - Baldur's Gate 3 on openSUSE Linux, Ultra Details (Frametiming spikes from screenshots).

After setting the right Proton, the game will launch and run properly. From my initial testing though, one problem I have seen currently is that the audio is at times just a bit out of sync and the narrator can get cut-off before finishing a sentence. Not all the time but it is an issue I've noticed on desktop.

One issue in the launcher you may see is a message about outdated drivers on Linux, which can safely be ignored because it's looking for Windows drivers and we have different version numbers. Aside from that, the launcher works as expected.

I also see this error every time I launch that appears, but it can safely be clicked away without an issue.

With my AMD Ryzen 5800x and NVIDIA 2080 Ti, performance has been pretty good. Sticking with it on DirectX 11 as Vulkan (from what I've seen) can be problematic, I've been playing it on the Ultra details preset and the majority of the time it's above 60FPS at 2560x1440. In less intense areas, the FPS has been much higher between 90-100FPS. So far I'm pretty happy with the performance level of running it on Linux with Proton! That said, there's plenty of random stutter, which is most likely the shader cache building up, which will be less of a problem over time.

Pictured - Baldur's Gate 3 on openSUSE Linux, Ultra Details (Frametiming spikes from screenshots).

When it comes to the Steam Deck the developers said they were "aiming" for Steam Deck Verified by launch but it seems they didn't quite make it since it's still noted as Playable right now. It does have full controller support ready but they have disabled split-screen on Steam Deck. Additionally, Larian are working on adding AMD FSR 2.2 for September 6th, so performance is likely to be quite a bit better when that's added in. So I'll be taking another proper look at Baldur's Gate 3 on Steam Deck then as well.

So how is it on Steam Deck? Well, it's a bit rough actually. Playable? Yes but performance is not great. The defaults set for it on Steam Deck are poor too, with their FSR making it quite blurry. Performance is also all over the place, some parts might shoot up to ~40FPS but lots of it will dip below 30FPS even with various settings turned down to Low.

Pictured: Baldur's Gate 3 on Steam Deck.

I will suggest setting the Maximum Framerate Cap to 30FPS, VSync to Double Buffering, FSR to Ultra Quality, Model Quality on Low, Texture Filtering to Trilinear, Shadows / Fog and Clouds on Low, Ambient Occlusion turned Off and God Rays turned Off. A lot of the settings are based on what you feel is best though, these are just initial suggestions. You're also only looking at about an hour and a half on the battery.

The user interface on Steam Deck is looking great though, their new controller support is really nice.

Pictured: Baldur's Gate 3 on Steam Deck.

Nice to see another massive launch, quite possibly one of the biggest launches of the year, working same-day on Linux and Steam Deck thanks to the power of the Proton compatibility layer. I don't think I can overstate just how important it is for Linux desktop and Steam Deck to have such releases working so promptly, and looking at the player numbers just before hitting publish on release day Baldur's Gate 3 saw around 450,000 people playing it on Steam — that's crazy.

Hopefully their switch over to FSR 2 in September will improve it on Steam Deck though, as it could use a bit of a boost. Still, around 30FPS is pretty okay for a game like this on a handheld with a small screen.

Here's some Steam Deck footage and early thoughts:

Do you need to have played the previous games to enjoy Baldur's Gate 3? Simply put: no. Thankfully. It's an entirely new adventure with new characters but you will see some familiar faces and places if you have played the previous games but no knowledge of them is needed.

You can buy Baldur's Gate 3 on Steam.

The release trailer can be viewed below:

Liam DaweProton ExperimentalUpdate 04/08/23notAbout the author - Liam Dawe