While I’ve played PC games since elementary school, it’s been literally decades since I’ve had any reason to go back to Apple devices since the days of Oregon Trail and other educational entertainment titles.
The fact that Apple hasn’t done much to support games on its devices, other than popular mobile games and the only indie title here and there, over the past couple of decades isn’t exactly a well-kept secret either.
So naturally I had no desire to buy branded laptops or PCs when I wouldn’t be able to play the best PC games or utilize my extensive Steam library of mostly niche games that don’t have the budgets to support Mac development for so small. court hearing.
And so goes the negative feedback loop of Apple not supporting games because the audience is too small, developers not putting games on Macs because of a lack of support and tools, and gamers not buying Macs because there weren’t enough games to drag-and-play. .
This meant, of course, that I was so far removed from the best MacBooks and Macs that I assumed any game on macOS must be poorly optimized, and the controls are probably terrible too.
Recently, however, we tested the 14-inch Apple MacBook Pro (2021) – considered one of the best laptops on the market, especially when equipped with the Apple M1 Max chip in our test unit – to compare it to the latest Apple MacBook. Pro 13-inch (M2) and had the chance to experience the best Mac games.
I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least.
Apple deserves a chance
So I tried out some of the best Mac-supported PC games covering a wide range of graphical and gameplay differences, including Hades, Crusader Kings 3, the original Dying Light, and my favorite indie title, World of Horror. Almost all of them ran smoothly, with just the occasional hiccup or slow frame rate in the most graphically intense titles.
The best feature by far was the stunning image quality. The color palettes and textures shined through the MacBook’s premium Liquid Retina XDR display more than any other Windows laptop I’ve used so far.
Despite some minor setbacks, the results were still impressive, as this was a laptop that wasn’t built for dedicated gaming in the first place. It was almost disturbing in a way that, after seeing Apple as some sort of PC game for so long, I realized just how normal the experience was.
With more support, the experience could be even better, and now there’s little excuse due to the strength of Apple’s silicon. The company still needs to invest more in PC gaming-centric hardware, as well as providing developers with the support and toolset they need to bring their latest titles to Apple desktops and laptops.
The good news is that there’s a new weapon in the tech giant’s arsenal that could turn the tide.
Can macOS 13 Ventura usher in a new future for Mac gaming?
During Apple WWDC 2022, Apple announced a new update to its core operating system, macOS 13 Ventura, and unveiled a powerful new weapon for gaming: MetalFX Upscaling. It’s essentially Apple’s answer to Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), and has the potential to be a revolutionary addition to Apple’s Metal rendering API.
These tools render a frame to be displayed at a lower resolution and then use algorithms and specialized hardware to upscale that frame to a higher resolution. This reduces the strain on a GPU when running graphics-intensive games and, when implemented well, improves performance substantially with little impact on graphics fidelity.
And the fact that Apple has created such a powerful resource to compete with its top gaming competition shows just how seriously Apple is finally taking gaming. Even more than ray tracing, algorithmic upscaling is the most exciting gaming technology to come onto the scene in over a decade.
So earlier I mentioned that there were some graphical issues with the more demanding games, which – despite the M1 Max’s strength – is likely due to these games not being optimized for Apple’s silicon the way EVE Online is. But with MetalFX Upscaling increasing the frame rate, many of these issues would go away, as rendering at a lower resolution is much less taxing. We’ll still have to see how MetalFX Upscaling works, but if it’s comparable to DLSS or FSR, we could see some truly incredible performance that can rival some of the best gaming laptops – and even sooner than we’d expect.
Some AAA developers are already embracing the Mac. More will follow?
Another Apple initiative that I’m excited about is the partnership with No Man’s Sky by Hello Games and Resident Evil Village by Capcom. This gives Apple two very popular AAA titles to beef up its game library (the Mac’s main weakness), as well as using them as high-profile demos to showcase the power of MetalFX Upscaling.
And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a major developer support Mac games. The developers of EVE Online talked about the potential they see in Apple devices, especially since the launch of the M1.
Imagine being able to play graphically demanding AAA games on a thin, light MacBook Pro or even a MacBook Air? Until now, this is something I’ve never considered, but it’s not just a very real possibility, it’s already happening, and I’m excited to see if this new twist – and technology – works for Apple.
If that happens, color me in with a new Mac gaming convert.