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.

Stray on Mac loses its way..


When I bought my PS5 last year, it came with 2 years of PlayStation Plus Premium which provides a whole catalogue of games to download and play. Saves a small fortune. Anyway, one of the games that was offered with PlayStation Plus was Stray, a game about a small ginger cat that’s set in the distance future where humanity has died out and only a handful of robots live in a run-down underground city – hiding away from horrible genetic mutants that have gotten out of control, posing a threat to both organic and non-organic life. Your job, with the help of a robot companion, is to guide the cat to safety and uncover the mysteries of the city, hopefully leading to a better life for all. It’s a terribly addictive game full of puzzles and a compelling storyline.

And now it’s on the Mac.

ALAS!

I think Annapurna Interactive has released the game a bit too early. I bought a copy from the Mac App Store and tried to play it on my work MacBook Air (15″, M2 chip with 24Gb RAM) and my personal MacBook Pro (16″, M2 Max chip with 32Gb RAM, 12-core CPU and 38-core GPU). On the MacBook Air, it’s very sluggish and I couldn’t achieve much more than 20 frames per second. The M2 Max fared much better, as I’d imagined it would, but the big problem is that it kept crashing. It also stuttered quite a bit too. And then we got to a critical moment in the game where the cat brings its robot buddy to life – and the whole long hung the system. This is on MacOS Sonoma 14.1.2, BTW – the latest release.

My big problem with Mac gaming is that it’s hard to truly gauge the settings and power of the number of GPU cores versus RAM in a gaming context. Clearly the more GPU cores you’ve got, the better the performance. Video RAM is shared with the system memory – and having 24Gb/32Gb is not going to be a terribly big problem for me. But the core situation is a big problem here – though with a game such as No Man’s Sky, the difference doesn’t feel noticeable. But here, with Stray, absolutely it does. I look forward to the Mac release of Death Stranding at the end of January to see how that fares.

I’ve had to ask Apple for a refund because the current state of the game is not good enough for me. It’s a shame, because when the game does run – it’s absolutely gorgeous to look at. The environment is beautiful and it’s impressive to think the Mac is capable of it. But until the bugs that cause the game to crash and lock-up are resolved – it’s a non-starter. You also really need a game controller to play the game because you’ll find using a keyboard and mouse to be quite challenging.

Update (11/12/23)

As soon as I got the refund, Annapurna Interactive released an update with bugfixes. As I’ve now removed the application from my systems, I can’t test – so it may be that they’ve fixed some crash-related bugs (the release notes are not helpful). In any case, I’m going to wait a few months before trying this again.

Bleh..

Death Stranding: The Director’s Cut was due to be released on the Mac on the 2nd December, but has been moved back to the 31st January 2024.

Even Kojima-san (who came and visited us at SMG a few months ago along with film director Nicolas Winding Refn) can push back release dates at the last moment. Actually, that’s not quite true. I’m guessing it’s all to do with 505 Games, Inc., as they’re the ones that ported the original PlayStation game to Windows PCs and have consequently ported the game to the Mac. No reason has been given for the delay, but at least they’re willing to delay in order to fix any last minute bugs, etc.

(Perhaps one of the most difficult, saddest moments in the game. But undoubtedly the most beautiful too. The game features some incredible songs throughout.)

I’m very much looking forward to seeing how well this game fares on a Mac on both a professional and personal level. Death Stranding is an absolutely superb game, and is currently my all-time favourite. So I’m happy to wait a bit longer for it to appear on my platform of choice. In the meantime, here’s hoping the dystopian cat game, Stray, gets an on-time Mac release – due the first week of December.