Game Title: Fortnite
Developer: Epic Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 1.95-2.5 hours
Download: 2 GB
As far as the big, new online trends in gaming are concerned, the Battle Royale trend is very big right now. These games chuck a massive amount of players onto a huge map and they must survive and fight off other players until there is only one player, or one team remaining.
The biggest of these games right now is, of course, Fortnite. The game that just came to the Switch as is shown all over YouTube ads via its trailer with the energizing song, “Right Now” by Confetti.
With it arriving with Paladins, I thought to continue my Online-Games reviews this week by diving straight into it yet again. Here is my review of Fortnite for the Nintendo Switch!
Fortnite has a story, but doesn’t have a story. Fortnite originated as a co-op survival game known as Fortnite: Save the World and later got the ever-popular Battle Royale mode added later on. Save the World had a Story Mode about players defending themselves from hordes of zombies.
But, we don’t need to go into that because the Switch version of Fortnite had that mode completely removed. This means that the Switch version, which only consists of Battle Royale, has no story attached to it.
Fortnite: Battle Royale is an Online Sandbox Shooting game with building and survival elements thrown into the mix. It’s all about dropping 100 players onto a giant map and having them collect resources and weapons and fight off other players by means of using weapons and building fortifications to protect both themselves and their friends/teammates.
First of all, let’s go over the Save the World situation again. As I said in the previous section, the Switch version had the Story Campaign Mode removed, meaning that Battle Royale is all Switch users can play. When asked about this, the devs stated that they had no plans on adding it in, so it’s likely that Switch will never get Save the World.
What we’re left with is Fortnite: Battle Royal, which consists of the 100-player free-for-all sandbox shooting experience. Although you’re all dropped onto the map no matter how you play, there are 6 different variations. You can play solo, where all 100 players are playing for themselves or the Team-based modes where you can team up with a buddy or a squad of 4-5 players. These also have variations known as “Sniper Shootout” which are the same but only with long-range firearms, promoting sniper-based play.
There’s also the 50v50 mode, where you’ve got massive fortresses and two 50-player teams, fighting one another.
Now, actual gameplay is very different than what I expected. You sky-dive into this massive sandbox island with tons of areas and environments you can choose to land in. From your landing, your task is to find weapons to defend yourself and use your pickaxe to tear apart anything around you from fences, trees, cars, and buildings to be able to build fortifications to protect yourself or your team. All of these items are randomly-generated, so you can’t go to the place you found a shotgun in your last session and expect another one to be there. That house might have a pistol, or no weapons at all.
The only thing that keeps you from just hiding in your fortress, though, is the Storm. The island is constantly in the process of being ripped apart by a storm and incrementally covers more of the island. All players have to move to where the storm isn’t at or they’ll die from the Storm, alone. This makes games much more intense and not just little sessions of everyone camping inside houses and fortifications. You can’t camp for very long before you’re forced to move to a new area by the storm.
While this is surprisingly fun and addicting on its own, you can do a lot more in Fortnite than run around, shooting each other. There are lots of small vehicles and areas on the island that have their own little things in them. You can grab shopping carts and ride them around hills just like kids want to do. There’s also a newly-added soccer stadium, where players can hold legitimate soccer matches with a scoreboard nearby that will count and tally goals in each of the nets. The more I explored in Fortnite, the more small little things I found that I could find and do that weren’t just running and gunning people down with the biggest gun I could find.
Items and Cosmetics, however, are the big meat of the game’s progression system. You don’t have a Character Select screen when you start your game sessions. You play as a randomly-generated character, but you can earn items in-game to equip and use with that character, like different pickaxes and cosmetic costumes and spray to label your fortress with.
However, this is also where the F2P model kicks in and Fortnite starts expecting you to shovel out real money. The way progression works is that you have items that unlock at certain Tiers/Levels that are earned as you play through sessions. The bad side is that most of the unlockable items are hidden behind a regularly-scheduled “Season Pass” known as the Battle Pass and the only “Free Pass” unlockables are small cosmetics like stickers.
This isn’t a case where you can grind it out and unlock these same items later on. All of the items, upgrades, and challenges locked behind the Battle Pass can only be obtained by buying that Battle Pass as well as reaching those Tiers. They can’t be obtained any other way and, with Save the World excluded from the Switch release, there’s no way to earn credits in-game for these items and passes outside of eShop Micro-Transaction purchases.
Now, where does all of this leave us in terms of length? Fortnite is built so that you’re constantly unlocking new content through the Battle Pass, with the Battle Pass renewing with new unlockables nearly every month or so. So, if you opt to chuck out for those Passes, you’ll pretty much never stop unlocking new cosmetics, experience upgrades, challenges to complete, tool upgrades, etc.
But that’s all on whether or not you wish to spend actual money on this game. As a F2P player, you’ll unlock stickers every so often, but nowhere near as often as the constantly-unlocking content for Paid Players.
Controlling Fortnite isn’t too tough, though figuring that out might be. This game has its settings options hidden well in menus and has no tutorial to speak of, so you just kind of figure everything out yourself, from how the game controls to how gameplay mechanics work.
Moving around is done with the Left Analog Stick and you can move the camera with the Right Analog Stick. Additionally, you can click the Right Trigger down to switch between Standing and Crouching stances. The D-Pad is used for team commands, taunts/dances, and cycling information. ZL and ZR are used for aiming and firing your weapons/pickaxe while L and R are used to cycle through your equipped items and building recipes in Build Mode.
That just leaves the face buttons/action buttons. B is used for jumping and Y is used for reloading. X automaitcally toggled the Pickaxe Tool, and A toggles between combat mode and Build Mode.
Graphically, the game doesn’t look bad. The renders look pretty nice most of the time, and there are very few if any jagged edges around you when you’re playing through a match.
The bigger things to talk about here are performance aspects. Fortnite on the Switch, much like its original release on the PS4 and Xbox One runs at 30 frames per second, with having small dips in gameplay, especially when a lot of other players are around. These dips aren’t very large, but they do happen relatively often.
Here is where things get really critical. I did extra Battery Tests on this game after the latest patch, just to make sure they hadn’t changed how this was optimized. You’ll see why in just a moment. Here are my Battery Times, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 1 hours, 58 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 36 minutes
This is amazingly-bad. I’ve never had a single Switch title ever last less than 2 hours on a single charge of Battery Life, but Fortnite drains it so fast that, unless you have the brightness down to the bottom, you can’t even squeeze 2 hours out of it.
This game seems very unoptimized for the Switch, especially from a handheld perspective.
In conclusion, Fortnite is on the Switch so handheld fans can enjoy the Battle Royale craze in the gaming market. Unfortunately, this version has its Story Mode missing, almost all unlockable content locked behind a pay-wall, small frame drops, and abysmal Battery Life that really drag it down in the quality department. If you can look past these or don't care about cosmetics, its addicting gameplay is here for handheld play, but at a multitude of prices.