Five Games Worth Firing Up to Show Off Your New MacBook Pro
If you're the proud owner of a new MacBook Pro, all things considered, gaming probably wasn't at the top of your priority list when you made the expensive purchase. Even so, when you're not doing resource-hungry work on your new high-end Mac, you can still have some fun with all that power under the hood. Granted, Macs aren't revered for their triple-A games catalog, but there are some popular titles worth firing up on your new machine, and you might just be surprised at how well they play.
The following titles offer a taster of the gaming performance that Apple's latest M1 Pro and M1 Max chips can achieve, in some cases running code that isn't even optimized for Apple silicon. And with a little bit of luck, these impressive results might excite games developers and publishers enough for them to see the potential power of Apple's processors, and for us to see more triple-A titles ported to the Mac platform in future.
1. Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the most high-performing games on Apple's custom chip architecture, despite not being an optimized Mac port that takes advantage of the macOS Metal graphics API. To play the game on Apple silicon, you need to run it through Apple's Rosetta translation layer.
Even so, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips make light work of processing the complex outdoor environments and large draw distances of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, even when using the "High" graphics preset at 1080p, with the game averaging 50-60 frames per second on a 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro chip.
As demonstrated by YouTuber MrMacRight, on a 16-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 Max chip, frame rates almost double at the same settings, while at 1140p resolution it's possible to achieve a sustained 50-60fps on the more powerful MacBook Pro chip if you switch the graphics to medium.
2. Metro Exodus
One of the more recent triple-A game ports to macOS, Metro Exodus is one of the most impressive looking first-person shooters currently available on the Mac, and also one of the best performing on Apple silicon.
Even though the game requires Apple's Rosetta translation layer to run, the integrated graphics cores in the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips are well-equipped to deal with the effects-laden game engine, which makes extensive use of light and dark environments to deliver its blend of deadly combat, stealthy exploration, and survival horror. Frame rates average 40-50fps in native 1440p resolution on both chips, and run just shy of 100fps at 1080p.
3. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Another macOS port that is still x86-only and therefore requires Arm translation via Rosetta, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is one of the more demanding games to come over to macOS, and Macs powered by Apple's first-generation M1 chip still struggle to run it at decent graphical settings.
However, with an M1 Max chip, the game can achieve an average of 70-80fps at 1080p resolution on High graphical settings, with an M1 Pro machine hitting around 50-60fps at the same settings. Switch to 1440p resolution and Deus Ex still manages a respectable (and highly playable) 45-55fps on M1 Max.
4. A Total War Saga: Troy
Another Feral-developed title, A Total War Saga: Troy is the latest in the Total War RTS series and these games are traditionally considered CPU-intensive because of the sprawling land battles that need to be computed in real time.
Fortunately, Troy runs natively on Apple silicon, and the M1 Max clearly leverages the optimized code and achieves some blistering frame rates. At 1080p on high settings, the game consistently exceeds 100fps, while the M1 Pro manages 60-70fps at the same resolution.
5. Baldur's Gate 3
Role-playing game Baldur's Gate 3 may not be officially released, but an early access version is available, which makes its performance on the latest MacBook Pro models all the more impressive given that the game isn't even finished yet.
Happily, the triple-A title runs natively on Apple silicon, and in 1080p resolution on Ultra settings, both the 14-inch M1 Pro and 16-inch M1 Max consistently hit 90-100fps.
At 1440p resolution, the action still regularly exceeds 100fps on an M1 Max machine where the M1 Pro sometimes flounders, fluctuating between 20-45fps. Even at 4K resolution on the "Ultra" graphics preset, the game stays in the buttery smooth 50-60fps zone on an M1 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Other Titles Worth Considering
These are just some of the Mac games that enjoy increased performance on the new MacBook Pros. Other titles worth checking out include CounterStrike: GO, Hitman, Borderlands 3, and Fortnite.
If you're conversant with CrossOver, the compatibility layer that converts Windows graphics API calls into macOS compatible API calls, we've also heard titles like Witcher 3 and Grand Theft Auto V benefit from the extra graphics cores found in Apple's latest M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
Have you found a game, new or old, that plays exceptionally well on the new MacBook Pros? Let us know in the comments.