Bottom line: Fortnite remains top of its class on the Nintendo Switch, maintaining it's 100 player insanity while making considerable visual and performance downgrades.
Crossplay and cross-progression
Fortnite's gameplay remains intact, both docked and in handheld mode
The visuals and performance take a hit
Microtransactions border on predatory
Hard to play competitively on the Switch
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Back in 2018, I had a chance to play Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch at E3, and I was impressed by what I tried out. At the time, Fortnite was on the cusp of its third season and was already soaring in popularity. When it was finally available for public consumption, however, I started to notice the blemishes I missed on the trade floor, especially when docked. And as the seasons went on and morphed Fortnite's map into the complex battle arena it is now, the shortcomings of the Switch version began to stick out even more.
Epic Games could've left the Switch version out to dry, and continued focusing on the other platforms, but it seems like the developers were dedicated to making Fortnite playable on the Nintendo Switch. Now at the start of Chapter 2, Season 6, Fortnite has become a grandiose space opera that has successfully blended popular video games, movies, TV shows, popular memes, music, dances, and even real-life people, into an absurdist fever dream that is very playable on the Nintendo Switch.
Fortnite for Switch: The greatest crossover of all time
|Category||Fortnite for Switch|
|Game Size||11.4 GB|
|Players||Up to 100 players|
|Price||Free download on Nintendo eShop|
If you haven't played Fortnite, then I can only assume you've been living under a rock for the last four years, in which case, welcome back. For the uninitiated, Fortnite is a battle royal game that pits you against 99 other players as you fight to survive on an ever-shrinking map. Fortnite wasn't the first popular battle royal game — that honor is held by the unfortunately named PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, but Fortnite has definitely done it better, constantly changing the game and introducing new game mechanics, lore, and plenty of cosmetics and emotes with every season.
Since its humble beginnings as a rip-off of PUBG, Fortnite has introduced vehicles, crafting, concerts, community mods, quests, challenges, and lore to tie everything together. The game has evolved so much that it's almost unrecognizable when compared to how it launched, but the constant state of flux that the game exists in is what keeps Fortnite fresh. It's easy to see why it's insanely popular with just about every demographic. It has also managed to avoid pay-to-win practices, though it's chock full of in-app purchases.
Most recently, Chapter 2, Season 6 launched with a bang, complete with an opening cinematic directed by none other than the directors of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, Joe and Anthony Russo. So when someone tells you that Fortnite isn't a big deal, you can safely toss their opinion straight into the trash.
As it stands, I can join a squad that consists of Master Chief, Travis Scott, Wolverine, and John Wick, jump into a car and blast Cardi B, and let off a headshot while dancing to BTS choreography. The crossover element alone is enough alone to draw in gamers from all walks of life. Fortnite has become the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate of shooters — literally everyone is here.
What's the Switch difference?
Just like Fortnite's ever-changing map, the Switch version of Fortnite has morphed since its 2018 debut. Like many Switch ports, the visuals take a hit as well as the framerate. The resolution hovers just over 720p while the FPS has a cap of 30. The numbers are the same in handheld mode, though the smaller screen masks the muddy textures that are apparent when playing docked. One new feature is the addition of gyro control, which offers a good amount of control once you get the hang of it. Also, you'll want to get yourself a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller because the Joy-Cons don't really cut it for an action game like this.
Fortnite is saved, however, by its cartoony art style and some Unreal Engine trickery. While blurry textures and pop-in are noticeable from the lobby to the final shot of the game, unlike Apex Legends, Fortnite's colorful visuals still pop and look decent despite the downgrade.
When you're actually in combat, the framerate remains steady enough, even while frantically building and shooting. The frame rate gets shakier in Team Rumble, however.
The Unreal Engine has proven versatile and can scale incredibly, as the essence of the game is still preserved on the Nintendo Switch, despite the cut in texture quality. The geography is exactly the same across mobile, PC, and other consoles, and you can easily link your Epic account with your Nintendo ID to play with your friends, no matter the platform. Even nicer to have is cross-progression, which allows you to access your cosmetics as well as level up your Battle Pass across platforms.
Fortnite for Switch: Not the prettiest Switch game
I mentioned before that Fortnite's visuals and performance takes a hit on the Switch, and while I think it's more stable than it has ever been, it's by far the ugliest version of the game. Even mobile players experience cleaner visuals and better performance. Certain omissions, like the ability to record clips, takes away from the showboating nature of the game, in my opinion.
It's also worth noting the difference when playing against Switch players vs playing against everybody. Switch players just seem to be easier to kill, while taking the game across platforms is when you'll start running into the players that can build skyscrapers in the blink of an eye.
Fortnite is a casual experience when you're playing against players of the same platform, but I found myself wanting to switch over to another platform when I felt competitive.
Fortnite is hugely popular with kids, and while the game can be enjoyed to its fullest without paying a dime, the game is littered with microtransactions — something to be mindful of when you let your kids or younger siblings play. Make sure your parental controls are in place to avoid any accidental $100 purchases.
Fortnite for Switch: Still a victory royale
All in all, Fortnite works on the Nintendo Switch pretty well, and is one of the best free-to-play games on the console, no doubt. While the visual downgrade hurts a bit, the game's core gameplay holds together, and the cross-progression makes the Switch version an extension of the game we all know and love, rather than a hard restart like Apex Legends. For better or worse, Fortnite has carved its place in video game history and has plenty in the tank to keep it relevant for years to come.
Fortnite is still relevant as it's ever been, and there's no better time to drop in than now, especially since the latest season has started. The Nintendo Switch version is competent and playable, and that's all you really want from your uber-popular battle royal game.
Zackery Cuevas is a writer for Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. He likes playing video games, talking about video games, writing about video games, and most importantly, complaining about video games. If you're cool, you can follow me on Twitter @Zackzackzackery.