Manor Lords is a Great RTS on PC but a Lousy Experience on Steam Deck

manor lords rts steam deck performance
Credit: Slavic Magic

manor lords rts steam deck performance
Credit: Slavic Magic

Breakdown

  • Manor Lords is a quality RTS that's just not suited for Steam Deck
  • Performance isn't great from the get-go, players will need to adjust the settings for it
  • Controls also don't suit the handheld, relying on the trackpad and touchscreen
  • It's a good game, play it on PC

Manor Lords is a fine enough RTS game that should please PC users who enjoy town and city building simulators, albeit, in a medieval setting. While the game is totally fine on a respectable PC, we can’t say the same for the experience on Steam Deck.

Manor Lords does not launch with Steam Deck Verification, and it’s easy to see why. However, as many gamers will undoubtedly try to play the RTS game on Valve’s beloved PC gaming handheld, we had to take a proper look at the game’s performance and playability on the machine. As it turns out, it’s quite lousy.

There is a lot to like in Manor Lords, especially if you’re an RTS fan, as the game’s opening essentially lets you choose how to play this game. After choosing your lord and symbol, players can decide if they want a balanced playthrough with battles and town building, or only focus on the latter. It’s a good way to cut straight to the gameplay, especially if you just want to peacefully make your home without fighting in army battles.

Controlling your character is weird in Manor Lords
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Credit: Slavic Magic

Once the game starts, it’s hard not to be enamored with the visuals of Manor Lords, as the RTS is a treat for the eyes. Even all zoomed out, players can enjoy the detail on environments, their buildings, and the small characters they have to take care of.

While we normally wouldn’t dock points off the game for having good visuals, it does lead to some poor Steam Deck performance as a result. Trying to run the default game at 60fps can lead to a ton of stuttering, even when you’re just trying to check on different parts of your map. Putting the game on Proton Experimental helped things a lot, though some moments were still stuttery.

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Like a lot of other RTS games, Manor Lords suffers on Steam Deck because controlling the game just doesn’t feel great. Since this is a game that heavily relies on mouse and keyboard, most of the gameplay will be done through the trackpad or touchscreen, with the triggers acting as mouse clicks. Of course, you can always plug in a mouse and keyboard if you’re docking the system or create a very specific key-binding, but it’s not ideal.

Families start eating in Manor Lords
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Credit: Slavic Magic

The only time players can properly use the Deck’s controls is when they decide to visit their town in third-person mode. However, even this is an awkward experience on the Deck since there isn’t a lot you can do in this mode. Walking around your completed town is nice, but this is just a minor feature that most players will use when they’re done with the town.

Making the third-person mode even more awkward is trying to turn the camera with the Deck’s right analog stick. On a typical controller-based game, this would move the camera left or right, depending on which direction you’re pressing. However, Manor Lords has your character’s head move while walking, meaning you’ll have an awkward time choosing where to go next.

You can certainly play Manor Lords on Steam Deck, but as your town gets bigger and the game gets more intense, the performance levels just aren’t up to snuff. However, the game does technically run, so those who are looking to get some Manor Lords in on the go will find themselves not having the worst of times here.

Just to be clear, we don’t think that this is the game’s fault, as we’re getting to the point where certain PC titles just aren’t made with the Steam Deck in mind. Manor Lords is an RTS, so it wasn’t developed with a controller in mind, let alone a handheld PC.

Performance-wise, this game will likely run better on a Steam Deck 2 or whatever Valve calls its next portable system. While the Deck can handle games like Horizon Forbidden West and Marvel’s Spider-Man, these titles were developed with the handheld and controllers in mind.

Manor Lords is now available on PC and is a solid RTS, just not one that should be played on Steam Deck. If you want to know more about the RTS, check out what we know about Peaceful Mode and all the confirmed features.

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