Fortnite, Gamevice, and Controller Support
The moment you’ve all been waiting for is finally here: Fortnite was just updated with full controller support!
Fortnite is, by far, the game we get the most questions about. Everybody wants to play Fortnite with their Gamevice, and we’ve been working really hard to make it happen. As of today, in Fortnite 7.3, you can finally play with your Gamevice. Epic has worked closely with us, asking questions and getting feedback, to ensure the experience of playing Fortnite with Gamevice is every bit as great as you’d expect.
It’s hard to overstate just how huge this news is. Fortnite is, perhaps, the biggest game in the world right now. It has a mindshare that has previously been reserved for the likes of Minecraft. Fortnite’s initial release on iOS was a watershed moment in the history of mobile gaming. It doesn’t get any bigger than this, for mobile gaming, and for the world of mobile gaming controllers.
Controller Support Overview
Unlike many mobile game ports, Fortnite for iOS and Android is the exact same thing as Fortnite for computer or Fortnite for console. It isn’t a clunky port handled by a third-party company, or a stripped-down “mobile focused” rebuild that removes a ton of depth and adds timers and ads. No, this is the real-deal, full Fortnite.
Part of Epic’s original purpose in creating Fortnite was to demonstrate one of the many ways their Unreal Engine could be used to develop different kinds of games. Fortnite served almost as an example product, showing how well Unreal Engine could be suited to making a large-scale multiplayer shooter that looks and runs great on a variety of platforms.
Fortnite far eclipsed its original goal, becoming a massive phenomenon among gamers of all ages, on a level not seen since Minecraft. But still, cross-platform portability of the full Fortnite experience is a part of Epic’s DNA. And when they finally ported Fortnite to iOS and Android, they didn’t sacrifice any of the core game. Fortnite for mobile is the exact same game as Fortnite for console, and even allows you to play with your friends on other game system.
The only significant difference between Fortnite for mobile and Fortnite for console is the input method. Up until today, Fortnite mobile required you play with a touchscreen, instead of with one of the many wonderful controllers that you’d get in the console version. This is important – using a controller isn’t merely a preference, it actually has significant implications for how well you can play the game.
The Controller Difference
For gamers who are used to playing console games with a controller, playing Fortnite with a touch screen can be difficult. And not just Fortnite, but all shooters. It always comes down to the same problem: the need to do three things at once.
When playing a shooting game, you need to do a minimum of three things at once: move, aim, and shoot. These three things require three different inputs: an aiming mechanism, movement control, and a button to click to fire your gun. With touchscreen gaming, controls are limited to your two thumbs, for a maximum of two inputs – you must move with your left thumb and aim with your right thumb, then lift one of your thumbs off the screen to tap a shoot button, all while your opponent is moving out of the way and dodging your attack. Games work around this by adding auto fire or tilt aiming, but they’re poor substitutes for real controls.
This problem doesn’t exist with a real controller. You use the left stick to move, the right stick to aim, and the trigger to shoot. No compromises needed, and no difficultly keeping your aim tracked on your target. And remember, three inputs was the bare minimum required to play shooting games well; games like Fortnite really work better with many more inputs, for things like crouching, sprinting, switching weapons, building structures. All made incredibly difficult on a touchscreen, but all a button-press away with a controller like Gamevice attached.
This moves-per-finger limitation is the reason why high-level play of Fortnite is simply not possible with just a touch screen. But everything changes with a Gamevice attached. With a Gamevice attached to your iPhone or iPad, you can – with one exception – do everything you’d be able to do on any of Fortnite’s console versions. The only exception is on iOS, and it concerns two buttons that have historically not been a part of Apple’s MFi controller specification: the two thumb stick buttons, L3 and R3.
L3 and R3
An important consideration to be made when using MFi controllers with Fortnite is the L3 and R3 button functionality. All of the major game consoles and Android controllers have two additional inputs that haven’t been a part of the MFi controller specification until quite recently: L3 and R3. By pressing in on the Left and Right analog sticks, you activate these two additional buttons.
Some games take advantage of L3 and R3, and Fortnite is no exception. When using our Android controller, these buttons work exactly as they do on consoles. But since we do not yet make an iOS controller that has these buttons, Epic added a few great workarounds to Fortnite, resulting in an iOS Gamevice experience that is every bit as good as Android — or, for that matter, console.
For L3, which is usually how you sprint, the workaround is easy: Fortnite defaults to automatically sprinting with a controller connected, without even needing to press a sprint button at all. This completely removes the need for the L3 input.
For R3, which is usually how you crouch and how you repair damaged structures, the developers simply moved that functionality to a directional button, while simultaneously reshuffling some of the other d-pad button functions.
That solves the L3 and R3 problem, but the news gets even better: if you don’t like Fortnite’s control layout, you have complete freedom to remap any action to any button! You have the total freedom to design any control scheme you’d like, and map any input of the Gamevice to any action. It is very rare to get this level of control customization on mobile or on console – Epic really went above and beyond here.
One important aspect of Fortnite’s controller support is how it pertains to matchmaking. The way Epic has structured their competitive online play, gamers who play Fortnite with a mobile controller like Gamevice are automatically matched against gamers with consoles.
Epic does this to keep things fair. Gamevice provides a huge advantage against players who are stuck using the touch screen, so Epic automatically matches those players against other gamers with controllers. PC gamers using a mouse and keyboard are placed in yet another group, keeping the inputs completely fair. Of course, you can still choose to play with your friends, regardless of the input method they’re using – this is merely for auto-matchmaking.
The Future of Fortnite
Fortnite is the biggest game in the world today, and its story is still being told. The developers at Epic are adding new features all the time.
Controller support is just the latest addition to a long line of game-changing features for Fortnite. But when it comes to Fortnite, the sky is the limit. We’ve already seen Fortnite take off in the world of gaming tournaments. Now that the mobile version supports controllers, I fully expect to see Fortnite become a serious player in the world of mobile gaming tournament play.
Gamevice is the best way to play Fortnite on mobile, and we will keep working hard to keep it that way! And no matter where Fortnite goes in the future, we’ll do our part to make sure Gamevice continues to provide the great experience you expect.
If you’re an iOS user, you can download Fortnite right now from The App Store.
If you’re on Android, check out Epic’s website for more information on how to get Fortnite on your device.