New Steam Overhaul — It Looks Gorgeous.
After all this time playing around in Steams very outdated, but dare I say it, functional library layout, we’ve been itching for an update. Not because the old one was bad, rather because it needed a refresh to look ‘modern’. Well here we are in 2019 and the public beta for Steams new library UI is ready for consumption. It begs the question, what’s been changed?
So whats the TL;DR?
Some of the new things that you will see:
- Recent Shelf which allows you to quickly see the last game you were playing while doubling as a Highlight reel for recently purchased games;
- Friend’s Activity which lets you see what they are doing and playing or have played;
- create Game Collections from your library;
- Game Pages redesign.
So all those sound pretty uninteresting, which by the way they are for the most part. In my opinion it’s a brand new coat of paint overtop of something that just worked prior. Similar to when you paint your dull eggshell color wall a calming blue, it’s not there to make it better, but to make it look better.
Steams New Library
On loading Steam you’ll be dropped into your library and at the top will be the What’s New and Recent Games sections.
What’s New is a section personalized for you to make it easier for developers to communicate what’s going on with their current or upcoming games. For instance Soda Dungeon which is a very popular game and soon it’s sequel Soda Dungeon 2 will be released. The developer sends out updates which used to be done through the Community tab. It seems to specifically be centered around the games you already have in you library.
Recent Games shows you the most recent games you’ve played during the week with the first listing showing you the length of time you’ve played. Typical of what you would normally see if you clicked on the game in the sidebar.
Speaking of the sidebar, on launching the beta you’re sidebar will be pre-populated with categories of any games you’ve categorized in the past. So if you’ve already organized your games, for instance into action then you’ll see that collection readily available.
Below Recent Games your shown your entire library which looked better before and heres why. The game covers are a mish-mash of 9:16 and 16:9 game covers defaulting to 9:16. 9:16 looks gorgeous but 16:9 looks bad because the game cover is scaled down to fit the box so there is an empty space above and a lot of empty space below. Not a good look. As an added bonus Steam has added a Scroll To Top button just above the download tab at the bottom of the window. It’s a nice quality of life improvement.
A few more things that I want to get into is the large Home button at the top of the sidebar brings you back to the default layout of the beta whereas the grid button just to it’s right, allows you to show only your collections. It’s really handy for those of you who really want to make lot’s of collections.
Below the Home button you’ve got the Filtered List drop down menu which let’s you organize your sidebar by showing/hiding games, software, videos or tools.
Just to the right of that is the Sort By Recent Activity button which sorts your sidebar from into the most recent games played at the top and then games played sorted by the last month they were last opened.
Again just to the right is the Show Only Ready To Play Games which only shows you the games that you have installed on your PC or is available to be streamed from another PC.
Then you’ve got your search box below that which I don’t want to explain to you what it does because it’s very obvious and then the Filter button just to it’s right. The Filter button is a wizard to create collections. When you click it, tick the boxes of the various variables you want the collection to be organized by. For instance, Single Player, Played, Adventure and VR which only sorts those games matching those variables into the collections.
The Game Page Looks Gorgeous Too
The last one is the Game Page which has received some serious love. In my opinion I think they look a lot better than the library.
At the top you’ve got the Play button to launch the game followed by last played, play time and achievements earned which is what you should be used too.
An Activity Box which let’s you type something to let your friends know something as well as what you friends have also been doing through the game.
Below that Community Content which you would normally have to go to the Community Tab to see all presented to you up front, no clicks neccesary.
The right sidebar shows your achievements, trading cards, both earned and left, screenshots you’ve made and your own review of the game.
Added to this is that the game page has it’s own tabs letting you go straight to the Store Page, Community Hub, Groups, Discussions, Guides and Support. The only thing I find useful here is the Community Hub through to Support. Store Page could stay where it is at the top of the window because it’s irrelevant to the game. But that’s my opinion, but would still like to see that happen.
So that’s really it, the main focus has clearly been to update both the Library and Game Page to make it more modern. I do have one gripe and that is the community content section in the Game Page. I personally don’t think they have it expanded by default, it should be hidden by default and if a user wants to see what’s there then click the little down arrow to reveal it. Also, the library should scale the game covers up to fill the box, sure its going to be cropped, but at least it’ll still look better than being scrunched up.
That all said, I love it and looking forward to seeing the final version. Hopefully no bugs appear while I’m in game because I’m planning to continue using the beta to see what comes out of it.
If you’re also interested then follow these instructions to join:
- While Steam is open, click on ‘Steam’ in the top left corner and click ‘Settings’;
- while in the Account tab loko for Beta Participation and click the Change… button;
- click the dropdown menu and select Steam Beta Update;
- Click Ok and relaunch Steam.