The last Total War game released on MacOS was Total War: Warhammer, an exquisite game with impressive real-time battles and deep turn-based campaigns. So exquisite, it easily earned a spot among the Best Strategy games for Mac.
While we’re extremely happy to get such a fast MacOS release, we can’t help but wonder: Is it as good as Warhammer? Is it as demanding? Will your Mac be able to handle it?
Steam users are, as usual, much more challenging. Going through some of the most popular user reviews, most unhappy gamers accuse Thrones of Britannia of not having as much depth as previous Total War entries. For the record, Total War Saga games are supposed to be shorter than the normal entries. That’s why they’re cheaper too ($39.99 instead of $59.99). But does that mean they’re not worth it?
The general consensus is that Thrones of Britannia is an exciting game that experiments a lot and tries new things. But to achieve that, it has to forego some of the integral parts of the Total War series, such as city planning or specific building customization. IGN summarizes the feeling perfectly:
The first Total War Saga game tries a lot of new things, succeeding at about half of them. It improves on a few areas historical Total War games have struggled with, but at the same time falls back into some bad, old habits that other games in the series were able to rise above. The overall tapestry reads as more than competent, and I could watch hardened huskarls with their massive axes crash into a Saxon shield wall all day.
Or, in fewer words, Thrones of Britannia is not one of the greatest Total Wars ever, but it’s still good. Let’s say you decided you want this game. You’re probably asking yourself one thing now:
Can my Mac run it?
iMac 27-Inch (5K, Late 2014)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2013)
- 1280x800 or equivalent resolution
- Medium Graphics Settings
- VSync: Off
- SSAO: Off
Every machine was tested using the game’s internal benchmarking tool.
|Processor||1.8 GHz Intel Core i3|
|Memory||8 GB RAM|
|Video||1GB Nvidia 650M, 2GB AMD Radeon M290, Intel Iris Pro 5200|
|Hard Drive||15 GB|
The game is supported on the following Macs:
- All 13″ MacBook Pros released since 2016
- All 15” Retina MacBook Pros released since Mid 2012
- All 15″ MacBook Pros released since Mid 2012 with a 1GB Graphics Card
- All 21.5” iMacs released since Late 2013 with a 1.8GHz i3 processor or better
- All 27” iMacs released since Late 2013 (or a 2012 iMac with Nvidia 675MX or Nvidia 680MX graphics)
- All 27″ iMac Pros
- All Mac Pros released since Late 2013
The following Macs are capable of running the game but are not officially supported:
- All Mac Mini’s since Late 2012
- All 12″ MacBooks released since Early 2015
- All 13″ MacBook Airs released since Mid 2012
- All 13″ MacBook Pros released since Mid 2012
- All 13” Retina MacBook Pros released since Mid 2012
- All 21.5” iMacs released since Early 2013
As always, if your machine does not meet these requirements, it would be safer to skip this one…
Expand to see 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.|
High-end gaming: pushing the limits
As can be expected from a high-end iMac with a beefy graphics card, Thrones of Britannia runs great on Medium settings. Running at a Smooth 68.8 Frames Per Second (FPS) on our 2014 27-inch iMac, you can clearly increase the settings and/or the resolution to enjoy better graphics. We decided to test several graphics levels and resolutions to find the sweet spot between performance and looks. Testing the game on that same iMac and 1344x756 resolution, we get:
- Medium: 68.8 FPS
- High: 53.7 FPS
- Ultra: 39.8 FPS
- Extreme: 27.1 FPS (Borderline)
All acceptable, but less than 30 FPS on Extreme settings is probably not worth it. Notice each increase of settings results in slightly better graphics in exchange for 20-30% lost performance. That’s a tough bargain. But what if we increase the resolution instead? Testing the game on Medium settings, we get:
- 1344x756: 68.8 FPS
- 1920x1080: 40.5 FPS
- 2560x1440: 27.9 FPS
What settings and resolution to chose will be a matter of personal preferences. Some prefer great graphics at 30 FPS while others prefer good graphics at 60 FPS. That said… If you have the choice between increasing the quality settings or the resolution, opt for higher resolutions. 1080p (1920x1080 resolution) looks so much better than Ultra settings, especially on a machine with a huge 27-inch 5K screen.
Can a Mac with integrated graphics run it?
Our 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro is officially supported but just barely. That isn’t surprising though, because we all know machines with integrated graphics have limited gaming capabilities. Still, that doesn’t mean they can’t play games at all. And sometimes, when a demanding game is properly optimized, even a 13-inch MacBook Pro can run it. Turns out, Thrones of Britannia was beautifully optimized. Our MacBook Pro runs this game at a Borderline 25.8 FPS. Nothing to impress your friends with, but more than enough to enjoy yourself. And if you prefer more fluid gameplay in exchange of bells and whistles, the game runs at 43.5 FPS on Low settings.
But what if you have an older Mac?
As expected, our 2013 13-MacBook Pro didn’t quite cut it. It’s well below the official requirements and it usually struggles with somewhat demanding games. On Medium settings, it ran this game at Unplayable 13.5 FPS. On Low settings, it did a little better, at Borderline 20.8 FPS. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend you to buy this game if you have a similar machine but if you really want it, or already have it for some reason, know that it can be done.
Remember, you can always run the free Unigine Heaven Benchmark using the Basic Preset and compare your results with ours: If your machine had a better/worst Heaven score, expect a higher/lower FPS score accordingly. The correlation between in-game performance and a standard benchmark is far from perfect, but it can still be a good comparison point.
I have to say, I am impressed with Thrones of Britannia’s Mac quality. Feral always does a great job, sure, but they outdid themselves with Thrones of Britannia. It runs even better than Total War: Warhammer.
This is one smooth and well-optimized port and the fact it was released barely a few weeks after the Windows version makes it even more impressive.