Pillars of Eternity 2 Mac review: Can you run it?

by | May 15, 2019 | Role-Playing

The first Pillars of Eternity was a success from the moment it was revealed. The game broke records on Kickstarter and raised nearly $4 Million. And that was only the beginning. Once released, it easily earned a spot among the best RPG games for Mac.

Now Pillars of Eternity 2 is out and we can’t help but wonder: Is it a worthy successor? And more importantly: Is Pillars of Eternity 2’s Mac version worth it?

You can rest assured, Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire (PoE2) is the real deal.  Developer Obsidian not only created a worthy successor, but it also improved upon everything the original game did. But can you run it?

Pillars of Eternity 2 Mac art
88 Metascore
Pillars of Eternity 2 is the real deal and a must for fans of RPGs, especially those who are in it for the story and the role playing itself.

Buy on Humble Bundle

First things first, is the game any good?

PoE 2 is still an old-school game, reminiscent of the golden age of classic RPGs, but plays better, looks better and has brand-new naval combat.

With an impressive 90/100 Metascore and an 83% Very Positive Steam user reviews, critics and gamers alike agree this is an excellent role-playing game.

Perhaps not ideal for gamers looking for a lot of combat and action (I’m usually part of that group), PoE2 might just be perfect for those wanting to immerse themselves in a fascinating world and quality roleplaying.

The game’s pausable real-time combat is stronger than ever, there are plenty of character-defining choices, and overall, so much to do. You can easily get lost in the countless stories that fill the PoE universe.

PC Gamer summarizes it well:

Pillars of Eternity II is another fine RPG from Obsidian, brilliantly showcasing the studio’s knack for strong world-building, intelligent, expressive writing, and varied quest design.

If it’s a fantasy RPG filled with pages of brilliant, descriptive dialogue you’re after, and a huge, open world to explore, the Deadfire Archipelago delivers all that and then some.

And PoE2 also has the looks. IGN does a good job highlighting how great PoE2’s graphics and art style are:

Deadfire is a very, very good looking isometric RPG, presenting a gorgeous fusion of 3D and 2D elements to create memorable scenes.

The water textures and lighting are some of the best I’ve seen in isometric RPGs, and the jungles and deserts are so well done that when my companion character complains about sand getting into unmentionable places, I believe them.

I could go on and on about the game’s features, story, and lore, but there are more than enough reviews that do it better than I ever will. Instead, I’ll focus on an important question no one else is taking the time to answer:

Can your Mac run Pillars of Eternity 2?

Pillars of Eternity 2 Mac requirements

Before diving into the game, you should know that many gamers have experienced a game-breaking bug that prevents them from starting a game. Luckily, Obsidian quickly pushed out a Mac-only patch that is now part of the base game. This is a problem you shouldn’t worry about anymore.

These are Pillars of Eternity 2 Mac system requirements:

OS: OS 10.12.6 64-bit
Processor: 2.9 GHz Intel Core i5
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GT750M
Hard Drive: 45 GB

Pay special attention to these. If you ever have a problem and your Mac is not support, Obsidian won’t be able to help you.

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The Test: Can you play Pillars of Eternity 2 on Mac?

As always, we test the game on several machines to see what it takes to run it on macOS:

  • iMac 27-Inch (5K, Late 2014): 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 16 GB RAM, AMD Radeon R9 M290X (2 GB)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016): 2.0 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris Graphics 540 (1.5 GB)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2013): 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 4 GB RAM, Intel Iris 5100 (1.5 GB)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012): 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel HD Graphics 400 (0.5 GB)

Notice neither the 2012 MacBook Pro nor the 2013 MacBook Pro are officially supported. Pay special attention to the system requirements.

Why these machines? To make these reviews as useful as possible, we strive to test a wide variety of machines, including high-end iMacs, recent but entry-level MacBooks and older models too.

These are the settings we used on each machine:

  • 1280×800 or equivalent resolution
  • Medium Graphics Quality
  • VSync: Off
  • MSAA Samples: 1

We used our in-house benchmark tool while playing one of the game’s early missions.

Pillars of Eternity 2 benchmark settings V2

⚠ Notice these settings aren’t particularly high. As most of us have older or entry-level MacBook Pros, we prefer to use settings that are acceptable for the average gamer without being too demanding.

The Results

This how each of our machines runs the game:

Pillars of Eternity 2 Mac benchmark results

Let’s dig a little deeper into the results.
As a reminder, this is how we describe the different levels of performance:

  • Below 20 FPS: Unplayable: Laggy gameplay, full of stutters and slowdowns.
  • 20-30 FPS: Borderline: Can be OK in slow-paced games. Still, not optimal.
  • 30-45 FPS: Playable: Acceptable for most (most gaming consoles do this).
  • 45-60 FPS: Smooth: Fluid gameplay, with no perceivable stutters.
  • 60+ FPS: Very Smooth: For hardcore and professional players, a luxury for most.

Can my Mac run Pillars of Eternity 2?

This goes without saying but if your Mac has a powerful dedicated graphics card, you’ll be able to easily run this game on Medium settings. Our 27-inch iMac runs the game at a Very Smooth 85 FPS.

But why limit yourself to Medium settings? Let’s see how far we can push this game without losing too much performance.

Running the game on Medium settings and higher resolutions on that same iMac we get:

  • 2560×1440 (much higher than full HD): Smooth 55.8 FPS
  • 4096×2304 (higher than 4K): Borderline 25.6 FPS.

Pro Tip: If you have the choice between increasing the Quality settings or the resolution, opt for higher resolutions. Going from Low and Medium settings is noticeable, but not so much when going from Medium and High. Higher resolutions always look much better!

This image doesn’t give higher resolutions justice (because of its small size), but it can give you an idea of the improvement.

Takeaway: 4K will be a little too much for most Macs, but you can confidently increase the resolution and expect great looks and performance.

Can You Play Pillars of Eternity 2 On A MacBook Pro?

This is where it gets interesting. Macs with integrated graphics will always have limited gaming capabilities, no matter how new and expensive it is. But sometimes they can run some surprisingly demanding games.

Case in point, our 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro runs this game at a Borderline 23.7 FPS on Medium settings. Not amazing, but good enough, especially on slower games such as PoE 2. Turning the settings to Low gives us a Playable 33.7 FPS.

And for the record, Low settings don’t look too bad. You can see it for yourself.

Takeaway: Entry-level Macs can get the job done, but you’ll probably have to play on Low settings.

But what if you have an older Mac?

Both our 2012 and 2013 13-inch MacBook Pros did Unplayable 13.8 FPS and 23.7 FPS respectively. That is clearly too low to enjoy or recommend the game.

But is it all lost? Not necessarily. On Low settings, our 2013 MBP runs the game at a decent 26.1 FPS. That won’t impress anyone, but it’s just enough to enjoy the game.

Takeaway: If you have a Mac from 2013 onwards and are willing to play at the lowest settings, there’s a big chance you’ll be able to play this game. But if you can’t, you can always try the excellent story-driven RPG Star Wars: KOTOR 2.

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Download Pillars of Eternity 2 for Mac

Pillars of Eternity 2 is available for download from the most digital stores including Steam and Humble Bundle:

Pillars of Eternity 2 Mac art
88 Metascore
Pillars of Eternity 2 is the real deal and a must for fans of RPGs, especially those who are in it for the story and the role playing itself.

Buy on Humble Bundle

Disclaimer: Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission (this is how we pay the bills). This commission comes at no additional cost to you

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  1. Gerald

    Nice performance review! Thanks!

  2. Bicoid

    Thanks for this analysis. On my end, the game is very playable on “low” on my 2012 MBP Retina. Setting the game to the “medium” graphics level makes it fairly slow. My question is are there any specific settings that should or should not be selected to get the most improvement for the lowest game impact.

    • Camilo.tsenuki

      Hi! For me, in general, removing shadows and ambient occlusion always does the trick! For PoE2 I would uncheck all the options and you could also play with the occlusion opacity! I own a MBP2012 no retina!

  3. Bob

    Excellent review. Exactly what I need to know. I’m glad you’re showing “extended” results using higher resolutions and/or settings. Very informative.

  4. Ekrem

    MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Early 2013)
    2,7 GHz Intel Core i7
    16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 1024 MB
    Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB

    Cant play the game. The fan starts working hard and computers gets hot. The game starts stuttering.

    What is the problem? my system should handle it perfectly and im playing on low quality graphics.

  5. Alex morse

    Hey Rick, I have Deadfire on my 2015 15″ Retina MBP (the 2.8Ghz DG Model) its runs really well with one wrinkle very noticeable edge pixellation/blurring especially on text and 3D character models, on all resolutions from 1440×900 all the way unto 2880×1800 did you or any other lovely people here come across this?

  6. Edward Rotberg

    Game would not launch after downloading the latest version from Steam. Icon just kept bouncing for minutes. This is on an iMac Pro running Catalina with 64 GB RAM and a 1 TB SSD drive. WTF?

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