A year and a half ago, Fortnite was removed from the App Store due to a legal dispute with Apple. According to Apple, Fortnite will only be reintroduced to the store after the legal dispute has ended – that could take years. Now the “mobile version” is available via GeForce Now. ComputerBase tried this.
Fortnite via GeForce Now: Necessity is the mother of invention
iOS and iPadOS users can now play the Battle Royale title on their mobile devices again. However, not as a native app directly from the App Store, but with detours through Nvidia’s cloud gaming service GeForce Now (test). It’s been a closed beta for a long time, with 500,000 users participating, according to Nvidia, but now everyone has the opportunity.
Here’s how Fortnite is coming to iOS via GFN
First, Apple users must visit the GeForce Now website via the Safari web browser and drag the page to the home screen as a progressive web app. Then Fortnite can be streamed from Nvidia servers via Safari, because there is no iOS app yet.
Requirements for playing Fortnite on GeForce Now are an Nvidia account and a GeForce Now membership – a free one is also sufficient. Once in the app, you select Fortnite and tap on “Play”, the game loads. When streaming the game, depending on your internet connection, there may be fluctuations in latency, which in turn can cause lag.
Streaming also on Android
Android users have only been able to play the desktop version via the cloud gaming provider so far, but the Fortnite mobile app without streaming was also available to Android users. Although Google also removed Fortnite from the Play Store, the game can be downloaded directly from the Epic website and installed natively on the Android device. Simultaneously with the release of the mobile version for iOS, it should also be available to Android users from now on, as Nvidia notes.
The classic mobile app version of the battle royale shooter is equipped with a user interface adapted to mobile devices and can be controlled by touch for both Android and iOS devices. Auxiliary controls such as auto-shooting, aim-assist, and visual cues on the direction of origin of in-game sounds have also been added to the mobile version.
Fortnite Mobile hands-on via GeForce Now
GeForce Now was able to convince in the test of the new GeForce RTX 3080 tariff at the end of 2021, but the streamed battle royale shooter only left a mixed impression when trying it out for the first time. The user interface and the touch input fields are known from the mobile version – you have to get used to it and accept a longer familiarization phase, but that has always been the case for Fortnite Mobile in general. What was striking, however, was the unexpectedly muddy graphics. In combination with the small screen of the iPhone, details or opponents were often difficult to see at a great distance.
In addition, the title could be played reasonably smoothly after the typical Fortnite shader cache stutters at the start, but there were sometimes massive stutters at irregular intervals, which briefly interrupted the fun of the game – in terms of performance (VDSL 100) or the WLAN Signal shouldn’t have been there. The following video, which shows an uncommented session of around 15 minutes, provides an impression (e.g. at minute 5:30).
Touch inputs also have a very short but noticeable delay due to the cloud gaming latency. Crossplay with PC players is possible. As is usual with cloud gaming, when in doubt: try it out.
Streaming in 640p or 720p
However, the muddy appearance was quickly explained. By default, Fortnite runs on GeForce Now smartphones with a resolution of 1,376 × 640 pixels in 19.5:9 format. On the test device, an iPhone 12, this is full screen, but by no means exhausts the available screen with a resolution of 2,532 × 1,170 pixels.
In GeForce Now, an alternative resolution of 1,280 × 7.20 pixels in 16:9 format with black borders on the left and right side of the screen can be selected on the iPhone. The refresh rate can be limited from the standard 60 to 30 FPS, and the bit rate can also be adjusted manually. Otherwise there are no graphics options available in the game itself. On an iPad, higher resolutions can also be configured via the GeForce Now settings.
Resolution and graphics amaze
This is particularly surprising in view of the GeForce Now tariff: The editors tested with an RTX 3080 subscription, which Nvidia explicitly advertises with the performance of an RTX 3080 (test) and both a resolution of up to 3,840 × 2,160 pixels and refresh rates of promises up to 120 FPS. In a less performance-hungry title like Fortnite, the latter should actually be possible without any problems, and it is when streaming the PC version on notebooks or PCs. However, Fortnite for iOS and Android on smartphones does not currently offer this experience.
The version now available for iOS and Android with a touch interface is officially this PC version. However, there are no settings for them in the graphics menu either. However, Nvidia has denied the assumption made by the editors that Epic ported the mobile ARM app to x86 in the background or that GeForce Now emulated it.
GeForce Now is not new, Fortnite via GeForce Now is not new and Fortnite Mobile is not new – but Fortnite with a touch interface and thus quasi Fortnite Mobile via GeForce Now is. This has its technical appeal, but politically much more: A game that Apple banned from the App Store as a result of the legal disputes with Epic over the commission system is now returning via Nvidia’s cloud streaming service in cooperation with Epic. This is the only way that users who are toying with the idea of using Fortnite Mobile on iOS will have the option again in the first place.
Whether the game meets your own taste on this device is a personal decision. It would undoubtedly be an advantage if Nvidia also allowed higher resolutions for streaming on smartphones – the performance is definitely available in the RTX 3080 tariff.
ComputerBase has received information about this item from Nvidia under NDA. The only stipulation was the earliest possible release date, of course. The manufacturer did not influence the test report and there was no obligation to publish it.
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