Playing a sprawling RPG like Persona 3 Reload on a handheld device is a dream come true for many of us. However, if you've attempted to dive into the world of Persona 3 Reload on the Steam Deck with default settings, you've probably encountered some serious performance issues that can slow the game down to a painful crawl in certain scenes. Fear not, for there's a simple solution to dramatically improve the game's frame rate!

Now, pay close attention to the areas where the frame rate takes a nosedive, and you might just uncover the culprit: reflective surfaces. While the PC graphics settings menu in Reload may be disappointingly basic, it does offer an option to turn off reflections. To do this, venture into the System menu, select Config, then Graphics Settings, and set Reflections to Off (don't forget to save your changes!). While you're at it, I recommend setting your frame rate limit to 60. Smooth sailing ahead!

Ah, the Iwatodai Strip Mall. It's an iconic location in Persona 3 Reload, and it's here that the difference with this setting becomes truly astonishing. Take a good look at the glass surrounding the entrance to Wilduck Burger. With Reflections turned off, the game can effortlessly maintain 60fps, with only minor occasional dips and frame pacing issues—nothing too bothersome. But with Reflections turned on, the area becomes a nightmare to navigate, with the frame rate dropping into the teens and sometimes even plunging to a mind-boggling 10fps on my trusty Steam Deck OLED.

This might be due to the apparent use of ray tracing, as Digital Foundry describes, which doesn't quite play well with the Deck's hardware. However, fear not! Turning off reflections doesn't mean the disappearance of all reflections in the game. While Wilduck Burger's storefront may transform into a rather unremarkable gray façade, the ray-traced reflections are replaced with some alternative in other areas. Just take a gander at the floor of the entryway to Tartarus—it's not half bad, if I do say so myself.

Adjusting this setting should improve performance even in places like your dorm room, where that pesky mirror with its ray-traced reflections proves to be too much for the poor Deck. Even the game's menu suffers from reflection-related problems, consistently dropping the frame rate into the 50s and giving it an unsteady feel. Reflections, you're officially banished from the performance party!

Now, while the Reflections setting leads to a remarkable improvement, it doesn't lock the frame rate at a steady 60. In my experience, encounters with breakable objects throughout Tartarus still cause some performance hiccups, as do certain rooms in the area. Alas, the limited graphics settings don't offer many avenues for tweaking performance to your liking. It's essentially just shadow quality and rendering scale. However, I haven't found the issues severe enough to sacrifice image quality further, but hey, your mileage may vary.

With a bit of luck, future updates will bring improved performance. I don't expect ray-traced reflections to ever run like a dream on the current Deck hardware, but I believe the other issues are minor enough to be resolved. Regardless of the outcome, the current problems—with Reflections turned off—are minor enough that I wholeheartedly recommend the Deck version of Persona 3 Reload based on the opening seven hours. Trust me, the convenience of playing this game (and grinding through Tartarus) on the go is worth every second. For more insights into what this remake has in store, check out our Persona 3 Reload review or grab the game at GameSpot's sister site, Fanatical, for a sweet 13% off!

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