The latest versions of Monterey and iPadOS bring Universal Control to Macs and iPads of all kinds. It’s a great tool for productivity, but also an amazing tool to have some fun with your iPad while you work. Here’s how you can you play games with Universal Control on your iPad + 5 games that we tested and found to work well with Universal Control.
In this article we’ll cover what Universal Control is and explain how it can help you get more mileage from your iPad as a gaming device. I’ll also show you how I setup my desk for Universal Control and what games I like to play this way. At the end of the article there will be a list of games that I tested and that work with a mouse and keyboard.
What is Universal Control
Universal Control is a MacOS and iPadOS feature that allows you to use your keyboard and mouse/touchpad across multiple compatible devices (one Mac and multiple iPads, one iPad and multiple Macs or multiple Macs).
Now, this might not sound like a revolutionary feature at first sight but trust me when I say – it is. I recently updated to the Beta versions of Mac and iPad OS in order to gain access to it. Why?
Because it makes my life easier when it comes to writing articles and content for you guys on this blog. Let me explain.
My setup is a bit of a special one. I use an iMac Pro, a Macbook Pro and an iPad Air 4 to do all of my work. Intensive game dev stuff happens on the iMac Pro. Articles are written on the Macbook Pro and the iPad Air 4 helps me organize my work.
The thing is, I have no other keyboard or mouse/touchpad on my desk besides the ones from the Macbook Pro. With it, I write code and make games on the iMac, write articles for this blog and control and play games on the iPad without having to pick up the iPad from its magnetic stand.
You have to see it in action in order to understand what makes it so great so I recorded a video of the entire setup for this very reason:
Hopefully this video makes it easier to understand what’s so great about Universal Control.
How I leverage Universal Control for gaming during work
Up until last weekend when UC was released I was streaming my iPad Air to my iMac Pro’s screen while at my desk and pairing it with my PS4 controller. This made for some great Oceanhorn 2 play sessions but for games without controller support? Not much fun to be had.
Now, with Universal Control, I can leverage the existing mouse and keyboard (or in this case, my MacBook’s mouse and keyboard) when streaming the iPad’s screen over to the iMac. If things keep progressing like this my iPad is going to become my main, and only, gaming device.
I already wrote an article on how I use my iPad to play games that don’t work on Steam for modern Macs anymore. With Universal Control that entire setup experience levels up incredibly.
Obviously games that are designed for multitouch usage won’t easily be playable via Universal Control. You can’t add two touchpads and have two pointers appear on screen. So for now, it’s best to stick to turn-based games or games designed to be played one handed.
There’s also the caveat of having a ton of games that weren’t designed with a keyboard in mind. There are a lot of great games out there that would perform extremely well when paired with a mouse and keyboard but don’t actually support keyboard input.
So, what can we do about this? What games can we play with Universal Control while procrastinating at our desk? I compiled a list of games that I personally tested that have support for a keyboard and mouse!
What iPad games I recommend to play using Universal Control
I’m preparing a much bigger and more meatier list of games that support mouse and keyboard for the iPad. However, until that post goes online (and I’ll update this one with a link to it), I can offer some of my favorite games that I personally tested and found them to work nicely using a Mouse or Keyboard on the iPad.
List of 5 Universal Control iPad games
Full Keyboard Support means the game fully embraces the keyboard and allows even menu navigation to work with the keyboard.
Partial Keyboard Support means the keyboard is supported in some parts of the game, but not fully.
NO keyboard support means the game has no keyboard support anywhere but you can still play it comfortably with a mouse.
|Name||Keyboard Support||Price ($)|
|Divinity Original Sin 2||FULL||24.29|
|Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror||NO||9.99|
|Idle Life Sim||NO||FREE|
Top of the list is, of course, Divinity Original Sin 2. If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while you’ve probably seen Divinity being my top recommendation for high quality iPad games as I called it “one of the best games to grace the iPad” in our 5 Great PC Games ported to Mobile article.
Tell me, when’s the last time you saw an iPad game with rebindable controls?
- Pascal’s Wager made a name for itself as the “first game with keyboard and mouse support” on the iPad (article by MacRumors) so there’s not much to say about it, other than it’s pretty damn good and that it works perfectly with Universal Control on the iPad.
- XCOM 2 is yet another game that I highly recommend to all iPad owners and strategy fans alike! The graphics are gorgeous, the gameplay is tight and the strategic decisions are plenty.
- If you think luck is on your side, I invite you to create a character, name that character Oakley and see if you can hit a 80% shot from 1 tile away. I covered this game as one of my top pics for “Great Mobile Games Ported from PC or consoles“. And if you’re not sure what the deal is with Oakley, check that article and look for the video on Ironman Impossible, it’s a XCOM Classic.
- Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror is an amazing old-school RPG from the everlasting Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software fame. I featured it in my Universal Control desk setup video at the start of the article if you want to check out how it looks like.
- If you love RPGs with a deep story, old-school 2D graphics and tactical turn based combat than Queen’s Wish is the game for you!
- Idle Life Sim is a free to play idle game for all iOS devices and looks like the love child of Animal Crossing and Adventure Capitalist. While it doesn’t have any kind of keyboard support it works great with a touchpad or mouse in Portrait mode. I reviewed the game in its own article titled “Idle Life Sim is the perfect Portrait Idle Game for the iPad” and I gave it really high marks.
P.S: We’re constantly testing games to see if they have Keyboard support or if they work with Universal Control! Those that we deem good, we add them to a playlist on our YouTube channel!
Where To Next?
If you like our articles know that we have other recommendations and topics we think you might be interested in. For example, there’s quite a few games we rated high in our reviews like Merchant (a premium game that hides behind a free price tag) and Thumper, a fast-paced game with gorgeous graphics.
We also talk a lot about the mobile gaming industry and their shenanigans and we have a special category titled “Worst Of The Mobile Gaming Industry”. We cover subjects like “Why Do Mobile Games Have Fake Ads” and “Why Are All Mobile Games The Same”.
If you like our content and want to stay up-to-date, you can subscribe via the mailing list widget on this page! Or give us a follow on twitter. Is there something else you’d want covered on our Best Smartphone Games blog? Let us know in a comment below.