The open beta for Steam’s highly anticipated library update kicked off late yesterday with Valve urging players to opt-in and sample all the new features its been hard at work creating.
The update is pretty comprehensive and finally breaths new life into the Stream library that has remained virtually untouched for years, widely seen as a graveyard for games picked up on a whim during one of Steam’s many tantalizing sales only to be never touched again.
Valve aims to ride the library of these connotations by pushing community engagement and malleability as central pillars of the rejig.
Here are the best new features from Steam’s big library upgrade.
Previously, visiting the Library tab on Steam lead back to the last game played with an uninspiring filler page with a lackluster smattering of game-related info that felt jumbled. That’s no longer the case.
The update includes a new, streamlined landing page for the Steam library, which you can jump back to with an unmissable ‘Home’ button above the game list on the left.
The landing page is broken down into different sections. ‘What’s New’ lists the latest game-specific updates, ‘Recent’ displays your most recently played/purchased games listed in chronological order for easy access, and ‘Recent Friend Activity’ is self-explanatory.
Each game now gets a dedicated page inspired from the previous iteration of the Steam library but in a more concise and navigation-friendly package.
Developer updates (now known as events and announcements), community happenings, and friend activity are all compiled into one space.
After playing the game, the page will now show a summary of the session including bagged achievements, earned trading cards, and any screenshots you might have snapped while playing.
The update introduces a new ‘Custom Shelves’ feature that allows you to compile easily accessible user-made collections based on pretty much anything you want; favorites, age, frequency of play, time of day, etc. You can even drag and drop titles between shelves from the Steam library landing page.
Once the user creates a shelf, it will appear in the vertical game list on the left-hand side of the library, making it easy to jump between them to find the games you want.
That’s not all, though. The game list itself has a reworked filter system to explore and search for games. It’s now possible to search the library via filters such as play state, genre, hardware support, features, and even specific tags.
Steam then saves the results as a dynamic collection that evolves and changes alongside the Steam library. As you purchase, download, and uninstall games, the collection changes accordingly. The filtered collection then sits as a collapsible shelf in the library.
I’ve had a mess around with the beta, and the first impressions are good. The library desperately needed an update. The landing home page is an especially welcome addition and adds a cohesive starting point from which to explore the library.
There’s still a lot Valve could do to improve the experience, but it’s a step in the right direction.