Apple Silicon iPads now pack as much or more punch than previous-generation gaming consoles, making it possible for developers to deliver console-grade gaming in a thin, fanless tablet. If you’re wondering what to do with the horsepower in your
Why These Games Make the List
With a few exceptions, most of the games on this list are not exclusive to an iPad equipped with an M1 or M2 chip. However, playing them on iPads with the latest Apple Silicon offers significant benefits in one way or another. We’ve chosen a list of games that can take advantage of your tablet’s power to bring them close to or even equal to the console or PC versions of these games. They offer console-grade gaming on the go without the compromises of weaker mobile devices or handheld consoles such as the Nintendo Switch.
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XCOM 2 Collection
XCOM 2 is a turn-based tactical strategy game that was originally released for PC and consoles in 2016. The XCOM 2 Collection ($19.99) is a bundle that includes the base game and all of the expansions and downloadable content that have been released for it.
In the game, players take on the role of the leader of a group of soldiers fighting against an alien invasion. Players must manage resources, research new technologies, and build and upgrade their base to better equip their soldiers for the fight. They must also make strategic decisions on the battlefield, choosing the right tactics and positioning their soldiers to take on the enemy.
In 2021 the game received an update with a new graphics-focused mode for more powerful iPads, bringing it closer to the console version’s graphics fidelity. With an M1 or M2 device, you can have both fluid gameplay, fast AI turns, and crisp, detailed graphics. There’s no need to compromise.
Civilization VI (free to play) is a turn-based strategy game that was originally released for PC in 2016 and later released for mobile devices, including iPad. The game is set in the modern world and allows players to lead a civilization from the ground up, starting in ancient times and advancing through different eras of history.
In Civilization VI, players must build and manage their own cities, research new technologies, and engage in diplomacy or warfare with other civilizations. The game features a variety of leaders and civilizations to choose from, each with their own unique abilities and characteristics.
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Graphically, Civilization VI isn’t much to write home about. The game is attractive, but not that demanding on GPUs regardless of platform. Sadly, at the time of writing, the iPad version does not include the lovely pre-rendered leader animations, but otherwise the game is completely intact. So why is playing this on Apple Silicon iPads a big deal?
It all comes down to CPU performance. Civ 6 can bog down even powerful desktop CPUs, especially in the late game. It’s not fun sitting for minutes on end as your AI opponents slowly think through their next move. On an M1 or better, you turn comes so much faster and that makes a huge difference to how enjoyable a 4X game live Civ is.
Alien: Isolation ($14.99) is a survival horror game that was originally released for PC and consoles in 2014. The game is set in the universe of the Alien film franchise and follows the story of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley, as she tries to survive on a space station overrun by a deadly alien creature.
In Alien: Isolation, players must use stealth and problem-solving skills to evade the alien and outsmart other dangerous threats on the space station, such as malfunctioning machines and hostile human survivors. The game features a first-person perspective and a focus on atmosphere and tension, with limited resources and a reliance on hiding and distracting the alien to survive.
The mobile version of this game impresses on any mobile device capable of running it, but on an M1 or M2 it’s as good (if not better) than running the game on a last-gen console such as the PlayStation 4, with the “performance” graphics preset offering amazing fluidity on iPads.
Divinity Original Sin 2
Divinity: Original Sin 2 ($24.99) is a role-playing game that was originally released for PC in 2017 and later released for consoles and mobile devices, including iPad. The game is set in a fantasy world and follows the story of a group of characters who are seeking to uncover the mystery of their shared pasts and the source of their magical abilities.
In Divinity: Original Sin 2, players must explore a vast and open world, completing quests, battling enemies, and making decisions that shape the outcome of the game. The game features a turn-based combat system and a focus on character customization, allowing players to create and develop their own characters and party of adventurers.
While Original Sin 2 will run on a 2018 iPad Pro or better, it clearly lacks the details and crispness of the PC or console versions. Playing it on an M2 iPad, and the game looks like its painted onto the other side of the glass. It’s the definitive way to play Original Sin 2 on the go and stands up against the PC version in terms of fluidity and detail.
GRID Autosport ($9.99) is a racing game that was originally released for PC and consoles in 2014. The game features a wide variety of racing disciplines, including touring cars, GT, endurance, open-wheel, street racing, and more. Players can choose to compete in a career mode, tackling different disciplines and rising through the ranks to become a champion, or they can engage in more casual racing in various game modes, such as time trials and multiplayer races.
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GRID Autosport features over 100 cars and 100 tracks, as well as customizable controls and difficulty settings to suit different player preferences. The game is known for its realistic handling and damage model, as well as its immersive and atmospheric presentation.
This is another game that runs rather well on a device like the 2018 iPad Pro and scales well on most devices, but in its 120fps performance mode the M1 or M2 takes the game to the next level. High frame rates are especially useful in racing games such as GRID Autosport and with the extra grunt of the latest chips you’ll get a much more consistent output at that target rate. Of course, this only applies to iPad Pros with 120hz screens, but even if you lock the game to 60fps, it looks utterly gorgeous. Just remember to download the high resolution texture packs that are available as a free in-game download.
Wreckfest ($9.99) is a racing game that was originally released for PC in 2018 and later released for consoles. The game is known for its focus on destructive and realistic racing, with players able to damage their vehicles and knock other cars off the track as they compete in a variety of race types, including traditional circuit racing, demolition derbies, and figure-eight races.
Wreckfest features a wide variety of cars, from muscle cars and sedans to trucks and buses, and a variety of tracks, ranging from dirt tracks to city streets and airport runways. The game also has a car customization system, allowing players to upgrade and modify their vehicles to improve their performance.
Genshin Impact (free to play) is an action role-playing game that was released for PC, consoles, and mobile devices in 2020. The game is set in the fantasy world of Teyvat and follows the story of a character known as the Traveler, who is on a journey to find their lost sibling and uncover the mystery of the elemental gods that rule the world.
In Genshin Impact, players explore a vast and open world, completing quests, battling enemies, and collecting a variety of characters known as Travelers and playable characters (known as “Traveler Companions” and “Playable Characters,” respectively). The game features a gacha system, where players can obtain new characters through randomized “wish” draws using in-game currency or real money.
Blizzard’s free-to-play addition to the legendary Diablo franchise has faces some stiff criticism regarding it’s monetization strategies, but there’s no denying that the game looks good. The only problem is that even on the latest mobile devices, turning the eye-candy all the way up results in a bit of a chug-fest.
That is, unless you’re running an Apple Silicon iPad, in which case you can have your cake and eat it at silky-smooth frame rates. Best of all, you can use practically any gamepad instead of touch controls, and play the nicest looking version of Diablo this side of Diablo 4.
No Man’s Sky (Announced)
No Man’s Sky is an exploration-based game that was originally released for PC and consoles in 2016. The game is set in a procedurally generated universe, allowing players to explore a vast and infinite number of planets and space stations, each with their own unique landscapes, creatures, and resources.
In No Man’s Sky, players take on the role of a spacefaring adventurer, traveling to different planets and discovering new species, collecting resources, and building and upgrading their equipment. The game also features a survival element, with players needing to manage their resources and protect themselves from the dangers of the universe, such as hostile creatures and environmental hazards.
This version of the game is set to use the latest Apple gaming API technology. Initial reports suggested that the much-anticipated port of this game would be coming to iPad in 2022 along with M1 and M2 Macs, but at the time of writing early in 2023, Hello games has yet to provide a firm release date.
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