While Macs were never designed as gaming machines, the new models can run first-person shooter games surprisingly well. You won’t have to miss out on gaming sessions just because you don’t own a PC with a high-end graphics card. There are lots of free first-person shooter games that you can play on a Mac with decent performance.
Of course, the game’s performance will depend on your Mac’s hardware, but Apple Silicon can run most of these games with no issues. On the other hand, Intel Macs, particularly older models, might struggle to reach a playable framerate, even when on the lowest graphics settings.
Let’s jump into the list of first-person shooter games for Macs!
5 Best Free First Person Shooter Games on Mac
1 – Counter Strike Global Offensive (CS: GO)
In December 2018, CS GO became a free-to-play game, and it’s available on Steam. CS GO runs through Rosetta 2, a built-in emulator for Macs running Apple Silicon. It should launch straight out of the box with no tweaks required.
However, sometimes you can run into issues getting the game to launch. The most common is a black screen. To solve that, if you have an external monitor, try connecting it to your Mac and then launch CS GO through Steam again. CS GO’s main menu should appear on the external monitor.
CS GO has some issues scaling to built-in Mac displays. Another solution is to launch CS GO then head to System Preferences, Display, Scaled, and select More Space. The screen will flicker and you should be able to see the CS GO menu now.
CS GO is the most popular free first-person shooter available on Mac OS. To get the best performance, lower the resolution.
M2 Macs 60 – 70 FPS (High settings, native resolution).
M1 Macs 40 – 50 FPS
2 – Fortnite
While Fortnite isn’t exactly a first-person shooter, it shares many of the same features, and there also are rumours that a dedicated first-person mode will be added to the game.
Fortnite runs well on Macs but it’s in a strange situation due to legal problems with Apple and Google. For the full story, read Epic Games notice. The short version is Apple wanted Epic Games to exclusively use Apple Pay, instead of offering multiple payment options. Epic Games refused, so Apple responded by blocking all Epic Games software from being developed on their platform.
What does this mean for you?
It means you can play Fornite but it won’t be running the latest build. To be specific, it’s running version 13.40. On Mac, Fortnite is stuck on Season 3 while every other platform has been updated to Season 4. Matchmaking might not even work for certain modes.
3 – Unturned
Unturned is a free-to-play first-person zombie survival game. The graphics are similar to Minecraft but it has a certain charm. It runs on Rosetta 2 through Steam.
On Ultra settings and native resolution, you can expect to get around 40 FPS. You can easily get a stable 60 FPS with minimal dips by lowering the graphics settings and resolution. Overall, with some tweaks, it runs pretty well, and it’s a lot of fun.
4 – World of Tanks
World of Tanks is a free-to-play vehicle combat game with some first-person elements. M1 Macs can run it pretty well through Steam using Rosetta 2 and with the lowest graphics settings.
However many users have reported bugs with the UI and frequent crashes. You can expect around 60 frames a second.
5 – Insurgency
Insurgency is not a free game but it does go on sale on Steam from time to time for a few bucks. Insurgency should not be confused with Insurgency: Sandstorm which is a much newer game. Insurgency is the original game from 2014.
It runs on M1 Macs via Rosetta 2 and the frame rate is surprisingly good for an emulated game. It often has better frames per second than CS GO.
Try Game Emulators
The above games can run using Rosetta 2 which is Steam’s default emulator for M1 Macs. Previously, Intel Macs could use Bootcamp to launch Windows games but Bootcamp is no longer available on M1 Macs. The only two other options are Crossover and Parallels Desktop.
With these programs, you can run a lot of games that won’t launch out of the box. However, it’s tricky to figure out which one offers better performance for games. You will need to run a lot of tests. Not to mention configuring these tools can be a hassle.
Emulators are Not Compatible with Anti-Cheats
There are lots of fun free-to-play first-person shooter games out there, but most of them use anti-cheat services that are not compatible with M1 Macs at the moment.
Some can be launched using Parallels Desktop which is a virtual Windows machine, but there’s a risk you’ll be banned. That’s why you can’t play Valorant on Mac because its anti-cheat is not compatible. The same goes for Apex Legends, Splitgate, and Destiny 2. The only reason they don’t work is due to the anti-cheat service.
In other words, you can launch some popular first-person shooter games with emulators on M1 Macs, but you won’t be able to play online.
It’s very frustrating!
The Bottom Line
Gaming on a Mac is not as easy as you might expect. While some free first-person shooter games run quite well, many of them have issues like dips in frames or problems with the UI. Even worse, the games won’t work online, so you’ll be limited to campaigns or vs bots.
Having said that, the Macs were never intended to be gaming machines. The fact that they can run some games just as well as gaming laptops is quite impressive.