Epic’s Fortnite launch on Android has been nonstandard, to put it politely. Instead of going the usual route of distributing the game via Google Play, Samsung and Epic announced that the game would be distributed via an APK and would initially only be available on certain Samsung models. While this is only a beta launch, keeping the device profile restricted so narrowly should have made it simpler for Epic to deliver an early game version with robust performance and graphics. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened here.
According to Ars Technica’s Sam Machkovech, limiting itself to just Samsung devices “hasn’t made the game run smoothly in the slightest.” Android Central declares “I’ve been playing it almost non-stop from the moment it was made available in the Samsung Galaxy App Store, and this is my early review of the game having played it on a Samsung Galaxy S8” before noting: “Fortnite is fun, but not on Android.” Android Police states that the game is currently limited to those owning a Galaxy S7, S8, S9, Note 8, Note 9, Tab S3, or Tab S4, and that despite this restriction, the game’s frame rate simply cannot hold a steady 30fps, even on a device as new as the Galaxy Note 8+.
Resolution isn’t native — it looks to be barely 480p — and texture quality isn’t great, either. The Android Police author claims his device is stuck on Epic, but I’m not sure that’s true. Rather, it’s true that his device claims to be stuck on “Epic” quality, but it’s not clear that level of image quality is actually being applied. According to Ars, low quality (which is what this looks like): “drops the resolution to somewhere around 480p, removes all traces of anti-aliasing, drops texture resolution, simplifies all in-game geometry, and removes all shadows.”
Meanwhile, certain decisions the game makes have drawn scorn from almost everyone. By default, the game has aim assist enabled and recommends using Auto Shoot, which means you’ll basically be letting Bixby play the game for you. That might be for the best, however, since the game apparently isn’t all that much fun in the first place, thanks to the constant performance drops.
Android Police concludes: “Fortnite is supposed to be a game that pits players against one another, but Fortnite for Android instead pits players against the game itself. Instead of being a test of player ability the game is more so a test of your patience as you constantly struggle against laggy frame rates and sub-par controls.” Ars Technica didn’t give a formal verdict but noted that during “the drop,” the game’s performance is so terrible, the frame rate drops below 20fps and the island looks like “N64 mush.” Android Central writes: “Fortnite for Android is easily the worst version available thanks to its poor performance, low-quality graphics, and too many auto touch-screen controls. Sure, this is still a beta release, and improvements will undoubtedly come, but after such a long freaking buildup, let’s just say I’m very underwhelmed with how it turned out.”
Fortnite, of course, is still in beta — but even a beta can be fairly graded when it’s a high-profile launch like this and when people are making decisions about where to spend their gaming hours. In this case, you’d be best served spending them pretty much anywhere else. Comparisons to that other Battle Royale shooter are common in all the beta coverage we’ve seen, and not one of them is particularly complimentary.
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