- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
Does Microsoft have a mobile gaming platform in the Surface Pro?
One of the best-kept secrets about the Surface Pro is that it’s actually a surprisingly capable gaming platform. No, you’re not going to be able to play the latest Crysis or Far Cry, but you’re also not stuck playing the same kind of watered-down games you get on other tablets. As long as you know which games work best on the Surface Pro, you can play the kind of deep, engaging, and original games that you just can’t play on any other handheld device. Here are a few of our favorites.
As the only triple-A PC game that currently offers touchscreen-optimized play, Civ 5 is the perfect game to show off the Surface Pro’s gaming prowess. Performance isn’t flawless (with default settings, frame rate sometimes drops into the low double digits), but the turn-based nature of the game makes it a lot more forgiving of lag. The gesture-based controls make it easy to control even a sprawling empire with the touchscreen, and you’ll never find yourself reaching for the Type Cover.
XCOM is a great Surface Pro game for basically the same reasons as Civilization V is—it’s a high-quality, deep title that doesn’t demand split-second reaction times of players. It doesn’t feature touch-optimized gesture controls, but the touchscreen works well enough for any game that can be played entirely with the mouse. If you find yourself wanting a little more precision, try playing with the stylus.
Tales of Maj’Eyal (TOME, to most) is a roguelike—the genre of punishingly difficult dungeon crawlers that practically defines the sort of game you can only find on the PC. The low system requirements of roguelikes makes them great for playing on the Surface Pro, but the best are graphical games that can be controlled with the mouse, like TOME. Many of the ASCII games are very keyboard-centric (e.g., Dwarf Fortress), making them a poor choice for play if you don’t have the Type Cover or a USB or Bluetooth keyboard.
Finally, we’ll point out that there are a ton of amazing games, like Diablo III, Portal 2, World of Warcraft, and Minecraft, that the Surface Pro is capable of playing. We hesitate to call these tablet-friendly games, though, because they still require mouse-and-keyboard input. The Type Cover’s WASD keys work well enough, but the arrow keys are oddly arranged, and God help anyone who tries to use the Type Cover’s trackpad for mouselook. So, though it’s great that you can play a wide variety of games on the Surface, the need for a mouse and keyboard will put some limits on your mobility.
One of the weakest links in the Surface Pro gaming ecosystem is Steam, which is resolutely un-touch-friendly. Many games don’t work when the Surface Pro’s magnification is turned on, but without it Steam’s tiny scroll bars and menus are incredibly difficult to hit. Big Picture mode seems like it would be better for tablet use, with enlarged interface elements, but the controller-centric design is even harder to navigate with the touchscreen alone. You’re better off pinning each game you regularly play to the Windows 8 Start screen.
The Surface Pro isn’t likely to take over as your primary gaming machine, but it’s more of a contender than you might think. For fans of strategy games and independent releases, the Surface Pro could be the perfect portable gaming platform. For action-oriented gamers, you’re better off with an Ultrabook or dedicated gaming laptop.