Death Stranding’s iOS and MacOS ports are a mixed bag

February 7, 2024
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In parallel with development of a stunning-looking sequel, Kojima Productions has continued to work on the original Death Stranding, delivering a series of ports – and the latest is exceptionally intriguing, targeting MacOS and selected iOS devices. A single purchase gets you access to a game that runs on Apple Silicon Macs and iPads – as well as the iPhone 15 Pro. The promise is mouthwatering, especially on iOS: the full Death Stranding experience on portable, fanless devices.

Cutting to the chase, Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro comes surprisingly close to the console experience in Death Stranding. The basic visual setup is convincing, with visual settings not too far from its PS4 counterpart. Pausing on the opening shot of gameplay, there are some differences – the rain is less prominent on iPhone, the foliage looks different in spots, and some LODs have been trimmed back, but it’s otherwise a very comparable looking shot. Near-field detail is about the same between iPhone and PS4, while more distant LODs are sometimes simplified. Foliage density and quality has also been tweaked. There are obvious differences in image clarity as well, though we’ll touch on that in a few moments.

Even shadow resolution – which is typically the first port of call to cut back on mobile ports – is about the same between the two systems. Screen-space reflections are maintained on iPhone, though they do look a bit coarse. Decima’s volumetric cloud system does get a pretty sizeable haircut on iPhone, with chunkier and more artifact-ridden volumes. I imagine the Nubis clouds are running at a substantially lower resolution, with passable enough but somewhat noisy results.

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