With Battle Royale being the new hot trend, it was only a matter of time before Nintendo's new console got in on the action. Hot off its E3 announcement, one of the most popular games in the world today was unleashed right out of Nintendo's presentation and into the hands of Switch users around the world. It wasn't surprising, given the leaks that surfaced prior to Nintendo's E3 Direct, but alas, Fortnite has indeed landed on the Nintendo Switch.
Now, if you're living under a rock and don't know what it is, Fortnite is a free-to-play Co-op/Battle Royale survival game developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly for the PC, Mobile and as of this date, all major Consoles. The game was made in the vein of PlayersUnknown's Battlegrounds, albeit with its own unique twist in the form of building structures and mining for materials. Call it a mixture of PUBG and Minecraft if you will. The game is relatively easy to get into, with most of its complexity stemming from building fortifications, which becomes second nature after joining a couple of matches.
The game brings most of its game modes to Nintendo's platform, sporting Solo, Duo, Squads, and 50v50. What didn't make the cut, however, was the Save the World mode, which is a shame as most of the world's lore is tied around it; not to mention that it's Fortnite's very own PvE mode. We're still unsure as to whether Epic Games will bring this mode over to the Switch in the future, but there doesn't seem to be any plans to do so as of late. But enough of that! Rejoice! We finally have Fortnite on the Switch!
The gameplay is just what you would expect from a Battle Royale game reminiscent of DayZ and PUBG. You queue in, get matched fast with a few dozen players, and try your best to outwit, outplay and outlast your opponents until you're the last man/team standing. The game controls quite well on the switch, though those who want more control might want to use the Pro controller for better accuracy. Despite some complaints on aiming with the Switch's default sticks, however, I've handled myself pretty well with just the stock Joy Cons and have had little to no difficulty playing the game.
When it comes to Fortnite, your fortification tools serve as the bread and butter of both your offense and defense. Unlike other titles, you can destroy almost every structure present on the map to avail corresponding materials for your structure building. Fortification tools consist of walls, diagonal platforms and various shapes that can either be flimsy or sturdy depending on your materials. Learning the basics of building can be crucial in traversing the game's map, and can help act as a bridge towards higher structures as well as defensive options for when you're being suppressed in a corner. If there's anything you'll have to learn in this game to be competitive, it's definitely how to transition your mind to building mode whilst in the middle of enemy fire.
Fortnite definitely brings the genre to a whole new level with its fortification system. Your building skills are put to the test as you are forced to exercise it in the presence of other players who are looking to gun you down. No longer are players limited to their surrounding terrain, for they are now able to combat whatever threat and turn the tide of battle with their makeshift forts, provided that they have the proper resources. It's a great feature, and one that really makes perfect use of creativity in this setting.
One thing I would want to point out is the absence of gyro controls. I would have given the game points had they implemented gyro controls on the Switch, as it worked wonders for the likes of Splatoon 2. Nintendo Switch's Joy Cons are well known for their accurate motion controls, so it would be interesting to see gyro support in the future. Please make it happen! The 50v50 mode was also a nice touch and plays surprisingly smooth amidst all the chaos. What's even more fun is how different Fornite's 50v50 is compared to other shooters, with massive fortifications being implemented as the game progresses. Fortnite definitely did a lot of things right. It's no wonder it carved out most of the Battle Royale crowd.
Learning Curve: 8/10
Fortnite's core shooting mechanics are relatively easy to pick up for anyone who has played a shooter in their respective platforms. Unlike other games like PUBG, the firearms aspect of the game has been made simpler to make it easier for new players to get into the game. No longer do players have to worry about modding weapons to make the most out of them and instead just have to pick up the artillery they need. The traditional MMO-like color coded system was also a nice touch, allowing players to determine said weapon's firepower depending on the color it emits.
As stated earlier, the game's nitty gritty comes from its building system, which I personally had problems internalizing at the start, especially when under pressure from enemy fire or the paranoia of enemies lurking around in the corner. One advice I'd give to newcomers would be to watch how the game plays out even after getting eliminated, as more experienced players are likely to give you ideas on how to efficiently fortify your walls and use it to your advantage in a firefight.
Fortnite's visuals brim with personality, and I myself prefer this vibrant style over the more realistic approach found in DayZ or PUBG. The colorful scenery just pops a lot more with its cell-shaded cartoon setting, making it somewhat more distinguishable over its other Battle Royale brethren. Since we're dealing with the Switch copy exclusively, I would like to give a short comparison on how it fairs with other console releases.
Visually, Fortnite still looks amazing on Nintendo's handheld/living room hybrid but not without taking a couple of hits on its visual fidelity. Unable to match the raw horsepower provided by other systems, the game's smooth 60fps framerate was capped down to 30fps both docked and on handheld mode. The game's textures and shadows have also been downgraded, with some elements turning into a muddy mess after reaching a certain distance. The amount of grass have also been trimmed out (no pun intended), with a few pop-ins here and there. Mind you, the game still looks and plays nicely despite the transition. In no way did I feel gimped by the framerate or muddy draw distance while traversing its gigantic map or while in the middle of combat. If you want to get the best visuals on the go, then the Switch version is the way to go—unless you're used to bringing your laptop around.
As for the sounds, there really isn't much to say about it as most of the game is shrouded in gunfire as soon as you drop inside the ever shrinking area. The weapons sounds are satisfying at least, so there's that.
Being a free-to-play game, Fortnite's shop consists of various emotes, cosmetic items and even a season pass for future eye-candy releases. None of the items on the shop have been game changing thus far, which is highly commendable for a game in this day and age. It's a shame that Save the world isn't available on the Switch version, as I can imagine how enjoyable it'd be to just meet up with friends and play a good round of PVE. While some may argue that the mode's audience are miniscule compared to its PVP counterpart, it would still be nice to get the entire package that's already available on other platforms instead of owning only half the game. At least give us that choice! Well, at least that's one thing we can wish for in the future.
All in all I consider this to be a great port. Even with the visual downgrade, Fortnite's cell-shaded style wasn't compromised to the point where I would start pointing fingers and call it an inferior version. I honestly never thought I'd see the day where we can all play big multiplayer games like this on the go. The lower resolution and muddy textures were clearly the price paid for portability, and I'm not talking about mobile versions. With that said, 30 fps is very much playable and does not take away from the experience. The precision of control sticks are just that invaluable for me as a player, and no mobile touchscreen can ever match it.
The game sporting a low skill floor is also a big plus for newcomers, especially for those who have never tried the game prior to its Switch release. Despite its PvP mode being played more, I still consider the lack of Save the World mode as a big hit on the account that we were actually given an incomplete product from the start. If you have a Switch and haven't played Fortnite, I would encourage you to do so. It's free, after all.
It's the best portable version of Fortnite to date
Low skill floor but high skill ceiling
It's FUN as hell
No Save the World mode
Some framerate issues here and there