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Death Stranding Director's Cut (iPhone 15 Pro Max) is a great technical showcase of Apple's integrated ecosystem

By Aaron Yip - 13 Feb 2024

Death Stranding Director's Cut (iPhone 15 Pro Max) is a great technical showcase of Apple's integrated ecosystem

Kojima Production’s Death Stranding Director’s Cut has finally landed on Apple platforms – macOS (M1 and later), iPadOS (M1 and later) and iOS. Saying that it’s available on iOS is a bit of a misnomer though, since the game works only on the newest iPhone 15 Pro or 15 Pro Max. Thanks to Apple’s M-series of processors for its Mac and iPad devices (and the A17 Pro on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max), this port not only brings Hideo Kojima's enigmatic universe to a wider audience but also redefines expectations for what mobile platforms can achieve in terms of gaming fidelity and depth.

That said, Death Stranding on Apple devices share the same gameplay and content as its PC and consoles version (read our review here), and includes all the enhancements and additional content of the Director’s Cut. From the moment you set foot in the desolate, beautifully rendered landscapes it's clear that the game is pushing the boundaries of what's been previously seen on mobile devices. The iOS version is easily one of the most beautiful games I’ve played on the iPhone 15 Pro Max or any mobile devices for that matter. The meticulous attention to detail in the character models, the hauntingly atmospheric environments, are all maintained here as well – all at a steady 30fps – despite the transition to a smaller screen.

Death Stranding Director's Cut on the iPad Pro and the touch controls.

Adapting a game as intricate and nuanced as Death Stranding to touch controls might have seemed a daunting task, yet Kojima Production and 505 Games have worked together and managed to come up with an intuitive set of controls. The control scheme is obviously redesigned for touch, and I think mobile gamers who are used to playing games like Genshin Impact or Call of Duty Mobile on their iPhones or iPads will have no problem with it – although I suspect many could find the LB/LT and RB/RT touch buttons placements to be unwieldy or awkward to reach and use. But I find that the game is really best played with an external controller, and this is especially so on the larger iPads and definitely on the iMac and or Macbooks instead of the keyboard and mouse.

Being compatible with all Apple operating systems meant that the game’s progress can be carried over across devices, thanks to the Death Stranding’s iCloud integration. At its core, iCloud integration means that a player's game progress, including saved games, settings, and in-game achievements, are automatically synced across all their Apple devices. This level of synchronization is transformative for several reasons. Firstly, it allows players to transition smoothly between devices without the need to manually transfer save files or worry about losing progress. A player could start their journey on an iMac at home, pick up where they left off on an iPhone 15 Pro while commuting, and then even continue on an iPad Pro while 35,000ft in the air over the Pacific Ocean (you do need Wi-Fi access, of course), all without any interruption to their gameplay experience.

Death Stranding Director's Cut runs well on an M1-based iMac too.

More than 'just another' AAA game ported to Apple platforms, Death Stranding Director's Cut provides a compelling demonstration to other AAA developers of the vast, largely untapped potential within the Apple ecosystem. By successfully bringing a game of such depth and complexity to macOS, iPadOS, and iOS, it has proven that Apple's devices are more than capable of delivering high-fidelity gaming experiences. The successful port of the game also opens a path for other publishers, serving as an example that they can indeed reach a broader audience, one that has been confined, perhaps reluctantly, to a gaming experience predominantly defined by mobile or casual titles. Hopefully, Death Stranding Director’s Cut is the start of a wave of AAA titles from the PC and console platforms making their way to Apple platforms.

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