Impressions: Fortnite Battle Royale on mobile takes dancing, building, and slaying on the road
There’s no doubt that Fortnite Battle Royale has been killing it the last several months on PC and consoles with their unique blend of building, fragging, and dancing that blends all the intensity of the battle royale formula with wacky stunts and tongue-in-cheek fun factor. But the question has so far been out, on whether Epic Games can translate that success to mobile devices.
Of course, after playing the game consistently over the last few weeks we can confirm that Fortnite Battle Royale’s mobile port is everything you would expect out of a Fortnite Battle Royale on any other platform, minus a bit of graphical fidelity and with a few building issues that somewhat change the way you have to play the game.
A Solid Foundation
Epic’s plan with Fortnite Battle Royale’s mobile port is to directly transfer as much of the main Fortnite Battle Royale experience to the mobile platform as possible, although with its own separate set of downscaled textures and a unique mobile friendly control scheme. Players can even transfer account details to the app, and weekly updates will keep the game fresh, interesting, and hopefully in line with the content on the main title. There’s even the option to enable cross platform matchmaking if you’re feeling particularly confident in your skills or otherwise suicidal.
It’s a bit of a gamble considering the difference in platforms and their respective audiences, but Epic Games feels like they’ve managed to pull it off. Playing Fortnite on mobile feels like you’re pretty much playing the exact same game using a bit of a funky controller. Graphics are definitely downscaled appropriately for the platform but aside from the occasional stutter step in fps it plays smooth enough to pull off most shots and plays.
The controls themselves are fairly standard for mobile shooters, you have a single on-screen joystick for movement and you can pan around your view by touching anywhere else on the screen. The rest of your controls from crouching to swapping weapons are handled by tapping on screen controls or the weapons you want to use, which again feels natural and easy to pick up on the fly.
As a PC player it was a switch up getting used to aiming using the mobile controls, but I had enough experience playing PUBG Mobile that I managed to get the hang of it quick, and I started nailing most of my shots in no time. Something about touchscreen aiming feels intuitive and easy to pick up, if not as precise as other control options on the market.
That said, I still struggle consistently with building using a phone rather than a mouse and keyboard. Building on the PC feels extremely natural and swapping between building and combat is always just a single key press and a mouse click away. Likewise, you can pull off all your barricading, towering, or tomfoolery while moving, jumping, and while swapping building materials on the fly.
On mobile, it feels much bulkier and difficult to pull off in the heat of combat because you end up having to switch through an entirely separate touch interface to place a ramp or wall, which slows you down when you’re in the middle of an intense combat encounter.
Normally I would assume this is largely due to my own lack of ability and that still could be true, but really it feels like there needs to be some layer of optional controls or shortcuts on the main screen that let you quickly build and swap between structures on the fly. As it stands right now, the separate interface is a bulky solution for a game that’s arguably 40 percent building.
Fortnite just has a lot of controls and features that are hard to fit onto a comparatively tiny screen. Add in the fact that there are no bumpers or triggers on a phone means that you’re forced to control everything with either two thumbs or by pulling off some crazy finger gymnastics, which just doesn’t feel like enough for a game with so many gameplay elements.
Crossing a Line
That said, this is probably only an issue as someone that’s coming into the mobile version of Fortnite from the PC. The current build is entirely workable, just not near as smooth and easy to use on the fly as other systems. As a result, most fresh mobile players will probably adjust to the system without much of an issue, especially if they’re playing exclusively against other mobile users.
The real issue is going to be if these players try to go toe-to-toe against players on other platforms, which the mobile version of the game supports on an optional basis. Personally, I’ve always loved the idea of a cross platform gaming community, but there hasn’t ever really been a significant stance on how balancing will work for those brave enough to push out of their mobile gaming spectrum into the wide-open ocean full of PC gaming sharks.
As it stands right now you would have to be a phenomenal mobile player to even begin to hit the speed and accuracy of someone even only decent at slapping down platforms on the PC, and that isn’t even factoring the difference in aim using a mouse over touch controls.
It’s already become a bit of a meme in online gaming communities to joke about getting easy kills by saying they must have been playing on mobile, because the reality is that the skill gap on the two platforms can be massive. I was able to consistently pull off wins queueing against mobile only players, but the speed I died going up against players in the larger pool of fish offered by cross-play was disheartening to say the least.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Fortnite Battle Royale’s mobile port is anything less than a good time, especially if you just want a game to burn a few hours of time on a plane, train, or automobile that also scratches your Fortnite itch.
As we mentioned earlier, shooting, looting, and building still work well, and only really feel bulky in comparison to other control schemes, and the sheer character and intensity offered by Fortnite Battle Royale translates well to even the comparatively tiny screen of a phone.
Nailing shots, getting kills, and in general pulling off wins still feels incredibly satisfying, and for players that hate the PUBG style snipe fests or dying to enemies shooting you from halfway across the map you’ll be glad to hear that the bulk of engagements in Fortnite Battle Royale’s mobile port feature even closer quarters than Fortnite on any other platform.
The sheer difficulty of aiming using a touch screen makes sniping or tapping away at enemies from anything over a hundred yards incredibly difficult, so most encounters come down to how well you can control your aim and building in close quarters style engagements, which occasionally makes the mobile port feel even more action packed than the full game.