For years now, gamers have gotten used to popular, big-budget console and PC games coming to mobile phones in the form of cheesy, heavily scaled-down “companion experiences” like match-three games or mindless screen-tappers. So it was a bit surprising late last night when Epic Games announced that the upcoming mobile and tablet versions of Fortnite: Battle Royale would be “the same 100-player game you know from PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac. Same gameplay, same map, same content, same weekly updates.”
As if to emphasize the identical nature of this mobile port, Sony will enable Cross Play and Cross Progression between the PS4 and mobile/tablet versions, as well as with the existing PC and Mac versions (which used to require some workarounds to play with the PS4). It’s an interesting move from a console maker that continues to stand in the way of cross-console play between the PS4 and Xbox One or Switch. Fortnite briefly and accidentally proved such cross-console play was possible back in September, and Epic Games later said players “deserve” such features.
Epic Community Manager Nick Chester clarified in a tweet that players will be able to opt into cross-platform matchmaking queues or stick with players on the same platform. That’s probably a good thing, because Chester also confirmed that mobile players will be stuck with touchscreen controls initially, with controller support planned for “later.” Though we haven’t seen Fortnite ‘s planned mobile control scheme yet, we’d imagine it will end up being a significant handicap compared to players with controllers or a mouse/keyboard setup.
After a slow start in its original form, Fortnite debuted its more competitive “Battle Royale” mode in September and quickly surged to a massive 40 million downloads as of January. That mode is an obvious nod to the previous success of the similar Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, but Fortnite’s version brings its own twists that have proved endearing to legions of fans thus far.
An authentic mobile port for Fortnite: Battle Royale makes sense as the market of potential players on consoles and gaming PCs starts to get saturated. The port also highlights the steadily increasing power of mobile phones and tablets, which can now match the performance of at least the lower end of major 3D console games without issue.
With literally billions of potential players to be found exclusively on such mobile devices, Fortnite could help pave the way for other major 3D games to make the leap to a mobile market that is often unjustly seen as an indie-and-puzzle game backwater.
“We believe this is the future of games,” Epic writes in its announcement. “The same game on all platforms. Console quality graphics and action. Play when you want, where you want.”
Players with an iPhone 6S or iPad Air 2 (or greater) and iOS 11 can sign up for an invite-only beta starting on Monday, with invites going out soon after. Android support will come in “the next few months” according to the announcement.