Although I've been gaming on PC since I was in grade school, it's literally been decades since I've had a reason to go back to Apple devices since the days of Oregon Trail and other early edutainment titles.
The fact that Apple hasn't done much to support gaming on its devices, beyond popular mobile games and the odd indie title here and there, for the past two decades isn't a well-kept secret either.
So naturally, I had no desire to buy branded laptops or PCs when I couldn't play the best PC games or use my vast Steam library of mostly niche games. a small audience.
And so the negative feedback loop continues with Apple not supporting games because the audience is too small, developers not putting games on the Mac due to lack of support and tools, and gamers not buying Macs because there weren't enough games to play. play. around. .
This meant, of course, that it was so far removed from the best MacBooks and Macs that I assumed all games on macOS must be poorly optimized, and that the controls were probably terrible too.
However, we recently tested the 2021-inch Apple MacBook Pro (14), which is 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 with the latest 13 .Apple MacBook Pro (M2) one-inch and I had the opportunity to try the best Mac games.
I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least.
Apple deserves a chance
(Image credit: future)
So I tried out some of the best PC games with Mac support, 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 everything ran smoothly, with only an occasional hiccup or slowdown in frame rate in the most graphically intense titles.
The best feature, by far, was the excellent image quality. Color palettes and textures shone through MacBook's high-end Liquid Retina XDR display more than any other Windows laptop I've ever used.
Despite some minor hiccups, the results were impressive as this was a laptop that wasn't designed for dedicated gaming in the first place. It was almost sobering that, after seeing Apple as some kind of PC game for so long, I realized how normal the experience was.
With more support, the experience could be even better, and now there's no excuse due to the strength of Apple's silicon. The company still needs to invest more in PC gaming-focused hardware and provide 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 an entirely 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?
(Image credit: Apple)
At Apple's WWDC 2022, Apple announced a new update to its flagship operating system, macOS 13 Ventura, and revealed a powerful new gaming weapon: 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 process an image to display it at a lower resolution, then use specialized hardware and algorithms to scale that image to a higher resolution. This reduces the strain on a GPU when running graphics-intensive games and, when implemented well, dramatically improves performance with little impact on graphics fidelity.
And the fact that Apple has created such a powerful feature to compete with its main gaming competition shows just how seriously Apple is finally taking gaming. Even more than ray tracing, algorithmic scaling is the most exciting gaming technology to come along in over a decade.
I mentioned earlier that there were some graphical issues with the more demanding games, which, despite the power of the M1 Max, is probably because those games aren't optimized for Apple's silicon like EVE Online. 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 have yet to see how MetalFX Upscaling works, but when compared to DLSS or FSR, we could see some truly incredible performance that could rival some of the best gaming laptops, and even sooner than expected.
Some AAA developers are already adopting Mac. Will others follow?
(Image credit: future)
Another Apple initiative that I'm excited about is the partnership with Hello Games' No Man's Sky and Capcom's Resident Evil Village. This gives Apple two hugely popular AAA titles to bolster its game library (the Mac's only major weakness), as well as use them as high-end demos to showcase the power of MetalFX Upscaling.
And this isn't the first time we've seen a major developer support gaming on the Mac, either. EVE Online developers talked about the potential they see in Apple devices, especially since the release of the M1.
Imagine being able to play graphically demanding AAA games on a thin and light MacBook Pro or even a MacBook Air? Until now, it's something I've never really considered, but not only is it a very real possibility, it's already happening, and I'm excited to see if this new twist, and technology, works for Apple.
If so color me a new Mac game conversion.