First wave of AAA iPhone games sees a big new release—and a notable delay

The trailer for Resident Evil 4 on iOS.

Apple’s AAA gaming ambitions for the iPhone 15 Pro saw both a release and a delay this week.

When Apple unveiled the iPhone 15 Pro and touted its AAA gaming capabilities in September, the company named three upcoming games as showcases: the Resident Evil 4 remake, Death Stranding, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage. All would arrive to iOS and all would require an iPhone 15 Pro to play.

Resident Evil 4 launched on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS today. And a few days ago, publisher 505 Games announced in a post to X that Death Stranding—which was expected to launch this month—has been delayed to “a new release date in early 2024” because it “needs a little more time.”

Resident Evil 4 is a free download, but unlocking the full experience will normally cost $60, which is an unusually high price for a mobile game but historically standard pricing for games of this level of production values on consoles and PCs.

Publisher Capcom is making the full-game upgrade available at a 50 percent discount until January 17, placing the price at $30. That’s not bad for such a recent game, though it’s worth noting that Capcom has an abysmal record of keeping iOS games playable and supported over time.

The game requires iOS 17 or later and a device with the A17 Pro chip or later. On the iPad, you’ll need iPadOS 17 and the M1 chip or later. The Mac version also requires an M1 or later, and it only works on macOS 13.

So, is Resident Evil 4 playable?

Resident Evil 4 is the second recent big-budget game in its franchise to arrive on the iPhone and Mac. Resident Evil Village was released a while back. While Village worked as a technical showcase for what was possible on the iPhone 15 Pro’s A17 chip, it was a little wonky. It had poorly implemented touch controls alongside a plethora of poorly explained graphics options.

Those graphics options meant that players had to spend a lot of time tweaking settings to get the game to the right balance of pretty versus performant. That makes some sense in the fragmented world of PC gaming, where the player base has a vast range of hardware configurations with different capabilities—but it made no sense at all in this case. Every iPhone 15 Pro has the same performance and graphics capabilities, so users rightfully expected a console-style approach of either a one-size-fits-all profile or a selection between a high-framerate performance mode and a high-quality fidelity mode.

Thankfully, Resident Evil 4 takes that console-style approach. The game targets 30 fps but can’t quite keep that rate consistently. It also lacks well-thought-out touch controls. But if you have a Backbone-style mobile controller or you want to sync your console controller with it, it’s quite playable and looks very good for an iPhone game; it looks roughly comparable to what you might expect from a PlayStation 4 or even PS4 Pro, albeit not a PlayStation 5 or high-end PC.

It’s not the ideal way to play the game, but you could argue it’s generally a better experience than trying to play a modern AAA game on Nintendo’s Switch, provided you have the right hardware controller to go with your iPhone.

Listing image by Capcom

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