Fortnite Battle Royale is the darling child of Epic Games that just about everyone is talking about. And after making a splash on PC and consoles, the game is now available on your smartphone.
But how well does the mobile version of Fortnite Battle Royale fare against the PC and console versions? Is it doomed to fail like many other mobile shooters? Let’s find out…
We tested the game using an iPhone X and iPad Pro 10.5 on a 200Mb internet connection. Bear in mind the game is still very much in beta, so you can expect a few tweaks and improvements to overall efficiency as the game is developed further.
To make Fortnite Battle Royale playable on mobile, some trade-offs were made. Both in terms of the controls and the graphics. Don’t expect to find ultra high details on mobile. That being said the game looks and runs beautifully, all things considered.
While having the larger screen of the iPad is a little more immersive, the smaller screen of the iPhone makes the game look prettier. Playing on the iPad is slightly more unwieldy, and the on-screen buttons are a little further apart meaning you’re going to be a little slower on the draw.
Before being able to play Fortnite Battle Royale on iOS, you’ll need to get in line and wait your turn by signing up for early access. Once you receive the invitation and you’ve managed to stop hyperventilating, click on the link in the email to go to the app store and download the game.
Once the game downloads, you will need to sign in to your Epic Games account or, if you don’t already have one, create one. You can easily do this using your Google or Facebook account to make the signup process a little easier.
If you have been playing Fortnite Battle Royale on other platforms, you’re going to be pleased that your character, progress, and items will carry over. Your loadout will be as you left it. From this point on, it seems any changes made to your character on one platform won’t sync to other platforms. For example, changing your outfit. This may change in the future.
At the time of writing the only game modes that are available are Solo and Squad, with Duo being temporarily disabled. Solo being you against everyone else, or Squad being you and a team of up to four players against other teams.
As there is no controller support yet, everything is touch based. Moving between the lobby, locker and item shops, moving in-game, shooting, building, everything. If you’re coming from mouse and keyboard or controller, this is going to feel a little different.
The health and shield bars have been relocated and replaced with your inventory and build slots. There are a number of buttons placed on-screen along with some touch control modifications.
If you have played mobile shooters before, movement and combat will come naturally to you. There are imaginary thumbsticks that you use to control your character. The left stick, which is actually visible, to move, and the right one to aim, shoot, and more. Pro-tip: double tap the left joystick to lock your character into a forward run.
While there is a button to shoot just above the left joystick, tapping on the screen is a little more intuitive. There are buttons on the right to aim down the sights, jump, and crouch. Finally, to reload, there is a smaller button above your inventory which might be better placed possibly closer to one of the index fingers. As you may have guessed, the game is designed to be used primarily with your thumbs.
Moving, aiming and shooting simultaneously is what you should start practicing. There are going to be a lot of times where you accidentally touch the screen and discharge your weapon. Switching between weapons or building elements will require foregoing movement or aiming, which is a downside to how the game is laid out. Close-up combat is also much easier than some of the long-range shots you need to make.
Some other modifications include having the doors open automatically which can be closed by tapping on them. Weapons and items are also picked up automatically by running over them. Switching and dropping weapons is also done by tapping.
This would be all well and good if Fortnite Battle Royale was only about moving and eliminating others. But this game is heavily weighted towards the Minecraft-inspired building mechanic. Being great at building can definitely give you both a defensive and offensive advantage against other players. Building is the difference between winning and losing in Fortnite Battle Royale.
This is where the mobile platform has a very steep learning curve. Getting to the build menu requires touching the tool icon next to your inventory. From there you tap on the structural element you’d like to build, choose the area, and make one last tap to initiate the building.
This is slower than on console, and significantly slower than on PC. In both console and PC, actions can be done simultaneously, like running and building, but it takes some getting used to on mobile.
In the beginning, you’re going to remain stationary for long periods of time while you figure out what you’re doing and trying to get a structure in place while trying to move. Fortnite’s combat can be extremely swift, and in the beginning, you’re going to be a little frustrated.
One of the biggest changes to Fortnite Battle Royale on mobile is how sound is represented on screen. As the game on other platforms is so reliant on sound, Epic Games needed to cater for mobile users. This is very useful for a few reasons.
Firstly, not all mobile users are going to use headphones. If you find yourself with some spare time and want to have a quick game, you may not always have headphones on you. The other reason is that when the headphones are plugged in it could impede the grip you have on your mobile device. This could negatively affect your gameplay.
Epic Games catered for this by having directional on-screen sound cues for gunshots, enemy movement, or golden chests. Your player will obviously have to be within proximity for it to be displayed on screen, and the closer you are relative to the sound the bolder it will be on your screen.
On the subject of audio, voice chat still has yet to make an appearance on mobile. Voice is crucial to squad and duo game modes when coordinating between your teammates. The only workaround for the time being is using the Xbox app on iOS to set up an Xbox party chat. Creating a Microsoft account is free along with the Xbox app. After you create a party, invite the friends on your Fortnite squad and chat away while playing the game.
Is Fortnite Battle Royale on mobile the same as the PC or console versions? No. While cross-play allows you to go up against players on other platforms, it’s not recommended. Unless you don’t have access to a computer or console, but you still want to play with friends, stick to playing against other mobile players.
Has Epic Games translated Fortnite as best they could? Absolutely, 100 percent, yes. Epic Games has set the bar so high for future developers in making Fortnite run so well on mobile. Even with the complex building system and control system, the developer has truly made something special.
Playing Fortnite Battle Royale on mobile will give you certain advantages over PC or console players, like the sound indicators. And future controller support will level the playing field for cross-play even further. Having access to your progress and character while moving between platforms also sets the bar even higher for other developers.
If we’re honest, unlike these games with phenomenal touchscreen controls, controlling Fortnite Battle Royale on mobile takes some getting used to, and you’re not going to be as fast at moving and shooting as a you are on computer or console. However, this is a tiny sacrifice to make in order to play Fortnite Battle Royale on your smartphone.
To answer the question in the headline, yes, Fortnite Battle Royale is definitely worth playing on mobile devices, and sets a new high bar for developers to aim for. So what are you waiting for?!