Elden Ring runs smoothly on Steam Deck, thanks to Valve.
Since its launch, players have flocked to the Lands Between in record numbers making Elden Ring the best-selling title of 2022 so far. But despite having 12 million copies sold, not everyone’s time as Tarnished has been entirely positive. In particular, stuttering issues have been causing problems for Elden Ring’s PC players.
The issue stems from how the game compiles shaders, and while it’s certainly not unique to Elden Ring, it led to ‘Mixed’ Steam ratings from those delving into the PC version of From Software’s finest. The fixed nature of consoles means that shaders are pre-compiled, but this isn’t possible on PC due to the vast variation in their components.
As the Steam Deck is a fixed piece of hardware, just like consoles, Valve was able to improve Elden Ring’s performance on its new platform.
In an interview with Eurogamer (opens in new tab), Valve coder Pierre-Loup Griffais discusses Elden Ring’s Steam Deck performance fixes; “On the Linux/Proton side, we have a pretty extensive shader pre-caching system with multiple levels of source-level and binary cache representations pre-seeded and shared across users,” Griffais explained. “On the Deck, we take this to the next level, since we have a unique GPU/driver combination to target, and the majority of the shaders that you run locally are actually pre-built on servers in our infrastructure. When the game is trying to issue a shader compile through its graphics API of choice, those are usually skipped, as we find the pre-compiled cache entry on disk.”
According to Griffais, shader compilation wasn’t the biggest of Elden Ring’s technical hitches, “Shader pipeline-driven stutter isn’t the majority of the big hitches we’ve seen in that game,” Graiffais explains. “The recent example we’ve highlighted has more to do with the game creating many thousand resources such as command buffers at certain spots, which was making our memory manager go into overdrive trying to handle it. We cache such allocations more aggressively now, which seems to have helped a ton.”
And it seems all their hard work has paid off. Elden Ring has been given “verified” status on Steam Deck, meaning it runs very well, a statement echoed by Griffais, “We’ve been playing on Deck with all these elements in place and the experience has been very smooth.”
Elden Ring has received its first major patch; update 1.03 adds new NPCs and quests, but nerfs the game’s best summon.