Death Stranding: The Director’s Cut (Mac)

Now that Kojima’s Death Stranding: The Director’s Cut has landed on iPhones (15 Pro/Pro Max only), iPads (M1/M2 only) and Macs (M series), I thought it would be a good time to put the game through its paces on a high-end MacBook Pro (M2 Max with 32Gb RAM) and an M2 MacBook Air (24Gb RAM). But first, a word about the iPhone and iPad editions: make sure you get yourself a controller – because the touchscreen controls are insane. It took me five minutes just to get past the title screen.

Now, Death Stranding on an M2 Max with 38 GPU cores is gorgeous. It defaults to 60 frames per second, but I changed that to 144 to match my external monitor’s refresh rate and enabled very high graphics and models. The machine handles the game with absolute ease. I ran this at a 2560×1440 resolution (QHD) It pays every bit as well as the PC edition and it’s really nice to see a game like this run so well on a Mac.

Performance on my M2 Max is outstanding…

But the 15″ M2 MacBook Air didn’t fare as well with the same settings (obviously). Anything above Medium graphics/model settings will result in a horrifically sluggish performance regardless of frame rate.

But after some tinkering, I discovered the best settings for a 15″ MacBook Air M2 is to set the graphics level at Medium and make sure that you set the MetalFX mode, Temporal Upscale, is set to Performance. The settings I’ve used for the MacBook Air are show in the following screenshots.

But generally speaking, when you have the right graphics settings on the M2 MacBook Air, and after a bit of stuttering when the game starts, it all soon smooths out and it’s a very good experience. I managed to get a good hour’s gaming in without any issues. It looks good on the lower-end Mac, though expect the CPU to hit the near 90 degrees (celsius) thanks to the lack of fans in the machine.

It’s also a big beast, weighing in around 77Gb. On the 15″ MacBook Air, I had to enable Game Centre in System Preferences otherwise the game wouldn’t even load – it just sat there until I had to kill it off in the Terminal. So remember, regardless of whatever Mac you use: make sure you enable Game Centre before starting the game for the first time!

I think 505 Games have done an incredible job overall. A MacBook Pro with a good number of GPUs is recommended, obviously, but it’s good to know that the game runs well even on more limited hardware.

An Apple wish list for 2024 (hardware, software & services)

  • Apple TV store: TV shows on parity with films – e.g. offer 4K TV programme along with iTunes Extras for TV programmes (audio commentaries, featurettes, documentaries, and so on)
  • Apple Watch/Mac: Unlock Mac by having to double-tap side button of the Watch rather than simply just be within the distance of the Mac. I’ve locked the Mac and came back to find it already unlocked because it picked up on the Watch a while away. We need the double-tap to unlock to make (or at least feel like) the system is secure. Double-tap works already with the likes of 1Password – so why can’t this be implemented for unlocking the Mac when waking it up?
  • Apple TV store: Protection of purchased films and TV shows. If a distributor stops offering the film through Apple, Apple will gurantee to protect your purchase and make it available for streaming and download to your Apple devices even if it’s no longer for sale. This one is more of a legal/contractual issue with the studios and distributors, but an important one – especially in the age of streaming and fewer physical releases. I’m sick of getting screwed by third party distributors while my contract is with Apple (the film, Attila Marcel was removed from my Apple TV library after the UK distributor went bust – so I had to buy it on DVD instead).
  • Phone app: Better tools for managing nuisance/spam phone calls, including a global (or at least country-to-country) database of cold callers and spammers and filtered by reputation. Users have the ability to submit phone numbers as spam and the more reports – the greater the chance it’ll get blocked by phones everywhere. In other words, let’s apply RBLs and email fighting techniques to phone calls. This has become a real problem for me, and I’m looking to keep changing my phone number every few years as a result.
  • Phone hardware & Camera app: Give the iPhone multiple microphones and have the ability to record spatial audio in Dolby Atmos format. Add the ability to control the direction of the microphone, and reduce any background noises (like the camera operator’s breathing, etc.). Also offer the option to record HDR in different format other than Dolby Vision (e.g. HDR10).
  • External monitor: Cheaper (for them ~£1,500) Apple monitor that supports Dolby Vision HDR and at least 120Hz refresh rate. It’s embarrassing that barely any consumers can edit HDR video because of a complete lack of affordable Dolby Vision monitors.
  • Phone hardware & Camera app: I suspect this one is coming given the current rumours, but having a dedicated camera shutter button on the bottom right-hand side of the phone would be useful when shooting photos or video in horizontal mode. And even a camera shutter button on the top right-hand side in addition would be good too – for those that like to shoot vertically (or are left handed – the buttons should be treated like action buttons on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max).