Fortnite is killing it on iOS, but it could be so much better

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Fortnite
Glide when you need it most.
Photo: Epic Games

I’ve been encouraging every gamer I know to play Fortnite on iOS since it made the leap to the App Store back in March. I’ve gushed about how spectacular the game is on mobile, and how it keeps up with its console counterparts.

I’m not at all surprised that the game is making an absolute killing on iPhone and iPad, raking in more than $25 million in revenue during its first month of availability. I’ve played it almost every day, and spent more than I’d like to admit on items I don’t really need.

But two months on, now that the novelty has worn off, I have some complaints to make. Fortnite could be so much better on iOS if Epic was to give it the attention it really deserves.

Fortnite on mobile deserves more

It’s not easy to complain about what is undoubtedly a masterpiece in mobile gaming. Bringing the complete Battle Royale experience to smartphones and tablets, without watering it down or taking anything away, is an incredible feat of game development — and I commend Epic for that.

I’ve had more fun with Fortnite than any other game I’ve played on iOS. Ever. But I feel like Epic should be giving the mobile version more attention, and delivering on the promises it made back in March. The game could make $500 million this year, according to the latest estimates — it should be a priority.

Here are the improvements Epic should start with.

Fortnite iPhone
Fortnite is awesome on mobile. It just needs tweaking.
Screenshot: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Fortnite on mobile needs controller support

Fortnite, like any shooter, is a game that’s best played with a physical controller. It’s hard to be accurate when you’re using touch controls. Combat can be incredibly tricky during fast-paced gunfights, and building effectively while other players are shooting at you is almost out of the question.

And don’t even attempt to play with friends on console. When you’re up against PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players using controllers, your chances of winning a gunfight, let alone a game, are incredibly slim. It’s just too frustrating to be enjoyable.

I feel like I’ve gotten good at using virtual controls. I’ve achieved at least 20 victory royales on mobile since the game’s release. And yet, I still suffer incredibly frustrating deaths every day because I can’t build or react quickly enough, or because I accidentally tapped the wrong virtual button at the wrong moment.

Fortnite mobile looting
Touch controls can be incredibly fiddly when you need to be fast.
Screenshot: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

What’s more, some mobile players are using third-party hacks to enable controller support early. This requires you to download and sign into an untrusted version of the game that’s been modified to support certain controllers. Few players are using this workaround for obvious reasons, but when you come up against the ones that are, you’re at a huge disadvantage. This problem will only get worse when Fortnite lands on Android, where it’s even easier to enable controller support inside games that don’t officially support them.

If any mobile game needs physical controller support, then, it’s Fortnite. Epic promised back in March that support for Bluetooth controllers is coming, but after half a dozen significant updates, and the launch of a brand new season, it’s still not here. This should be at the top of Epic’s to-do list.

Fortnite needs voice chat

If the lack of controller support doesn’t make teaming up with friends difficult, the inability to communicate during matches will. Epic has added emotes that you can use for simple things during a game, like asking for ammo and bandages, but they’re no substitute for proper voice chat.

There are workarounds on iOS, like using third-party chat apps such as Skype and Discord in the background while you play — but these require you to convince your friends to sign up and download another app, and they’re no good if you’re playing in random duos or squads.

Again, Epic promised in March that voice chat is coming, but it’s still not here yet.

Fortnite needs stats

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve won a bunch of battle royale games on mobile, yet none of them have been recorded in my stats. For whatever reason, Epic has decided not to count mobile wins, or even the number of games you’ve played.

Fortnite-victories
None of these wins were counted by Epic.
Screenshot: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

In earlier versions of the game, the stats section was at least accessible, but your data was “unavailable.” In more recent releases, Epic has removed the ability to even get into this section; tapping its button does nothing.

I can’t think of a reason why mobile wins shouldn’t be counted, or why it would be difficult for Epic to add that functionality. Why don’t we have it yet?

Please make mobile more awesome, Epic!

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful; after all, Epic did bring Fortnite to mobile in the first place, and it is completely free to play. And I still think it’s a terrific game. I just wish it was that little bit better.

Epic is a studio that’s known for being incredibly fast-paced. It bashed out its first version of Battle Royale in just two months, and made the game available on mobile just seven months after its console debut. It’s perplexing that these features, which seem small when you consider that new weapons and game modes are added to Fortnite every week, still haven’t arrived.