Today, we’re going to cover an important question: do mods work on Steam Deck? If so, how, and what do you need to know about getting your favorite PC games and mods working on Steam Deck, within Steam OS? Today, I’ll be answering these questions and directing you toward the most helpful resources I can, so let’s get into it! I won’t even waste time building up to the titular question.
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Does Modding Games Work on Steam Deck?
Yes, but unless your mods are on the Steam Workshop, you’re going to need to take extra steps in order to get them set up. Steam Workshop mod support is great for the Steam Deck because it just handles mods like Steam handles DLCs and everything else: auto-updating, auto-applying, etc. Outside of the Steam Workshop, though, is when you’re going to have to start making a greater effort.
Game modifications that are based solely on file replacements or configuration file edits should work fine on Steam Deck, though of course you’ll need to make those changes from within Desktop Mode. However, the world of PC games modding goes well beyond just replacing or swapping files…so let’s start talking about the concerns of getting mods working on Steam Deck.
The Concerns of Modding Games on Steam Deck
ReShade Installer Doesn’t Work, But ReShade Is Supported
So, one nice thing about Steam Deck and modding games is that the Gamescope compositor used on Steam Deck by default has native support for ReShade shaders and presets. The problem? Steam Deck has no native support for the ReShade installer with which you would normally actually configure and set up ReShade for your games, so you’ll need to do manual file placements in order to install ReShade in a given game.
Once in-game, the ReShade overlay does work, but you’ll need to open your Deck Controller Settings to bind one of your extra buttons to “Home” so you can toggle the overlay and tweak your ReShade presets.
Custom Mod Managers Require Separate Applications To Get Working
Besides ReShade, which covers the gamut of most visual mods you’ll see that don’t involve replacing game assets outright, you may also come across games whose modding scenes are reliant on custom mod managers. For example, RE Engine games are known to rely on Fluffy Mod Manager in order to properly install and run their mods, and this remains the case on Steam OS.
Unfortunately, unless you know that you have to configure your mod manager with a utility like Bottles or SteamTinkerLaunch, you may have difficulty actually getting the mods installed. Simply running the mod manager and installing the mods isn’t enough, since without the correct variables in place, your mods simply won’t be loaded when you play your game.
Fortunately, using the correct utilities and configuring them to work properly with your game folders and Wine/Proton tends to be all you need to get whatever mods you want working with Steam Deck. I’ll be doing more personal testing with this over time, too, and come back to edit this piece later if I discover some major mod compatibility issues on Steam Deck.
The Majority of Mods Will Likely Work, But Support Will Be Incredibly Limited
Overall, it’s important to remember that mods are generally free to the user and being worked on by people in their spare time. Mods aren’t really an industry, and attempts to turn them into one are generally frowned upon. However, it’s also frowned upon to be too rude or demanding to mod developers, especially when they work for free. And if you’re going to be using their mods on a Steam Deck when they primarily develop mods for Windows games, they may be unwilling or unable to provide support if something doesn’t work.
Is Modding Games on Steam Deck Worth It?
Despite all the caveats I’ve discussed above, I absolutely think modding games on Steam Deck is worth it. While it’s unfortunate that it’s more complicated to mod games on Steam Deck and Steam OS than a standard Windows PC, it’s amazing that the majority of those mods should still work perfectly fine thanks to the efforts of the open source community. Writing and researching this article actually made me decide to get my Devil May Cry 5 mods working on my Steam Deck…what a beautiful time-sink that’ll be.