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FortCraft hands-on - do we even need Fortnite mobile?

Another mobile Battle Royale game parachutes in
Product: FortCraft | Publisher: NetEase | Format: Android, iPhone, iPad
The internet has been getting in a bit of tizzy this week as the Fortnite mobile beta sign-up process started.

To be fair, we can understand the hype. After all, this is set to be a faithful mobile conversion of the hottest online Battle Royale game of the moment, with the direct involvement of Epic Games itself.

Check out our PUBG mobile vs Rules of Survival comparison

But while you're waiting impatiently for your invite, you might have missed the arrival of the FortCraft beta.

Make no mistake, FortCraft is a thinly disguised copy of Fortnite. Of course, Fortnite itself can hardly complain given that it blatantly pinched its concept from PUBG.

Speaking of which, FortCraft developer NetEase pulled a similar copying trick with Rules of Survival, which turned out to be a pretty creditable PUBG copy.

I've been playing a little of this early build of FortCraft over the last few days. I've also played a fair amount of Fortnite on PS4 over the past few months, so I have some frame of reference.

So how does FortCraft play at this early point? Do we even need Fortnite mobile? Does this cheeky doppelgänger tell us anything about how Fortnite mobile might fare?

The art style suits mobile well

One immediate point to note - and I think this will apply to Fortnite mobile too - is that this borrowed cartoon aesthetic suits mobile way better than portable PUBG.

There's simply much less squinting at far off smudges on the map, wondering if it's a person with a Kar98 or a bush. Everything is crisp and clean and much more legible.

The colour-coded weapon system - another direct Fortnite lift - makes identifying and picking up weapons much less of a chore on a compact screen, too.

All of which, we'll admit, serves to make us doubly excited for Fortnite mobile.

Building is way easier than in Fortnite

Just as Rules of Survival simplified PUBG's looting system, FortCraft greatly streamlines the building mechanic at the heart of Fortnite. Arguably too much so.

You can construct for yourself an instant fort with a single press of a button, which will give you four walls and an inner ramp. That's instant on-the-fly cover, basically.

In Fortnite you need to construct this basic structure for yourself from its constituent parts. It's a foundational skill if you hope to get good at the game.

FortCraft has made this much more accessible on mobile, but it removes much of the skill - and thus the satisfaction - involved in fort building.

Combat feels good

Oddly enough, the looser combat in FortCraft arguably feels more satisfying than in Rules of Survival and PUBG mobile.

I say odd because away from mobile the gunplay in PUBG is seen as one of its strengths, while in Fortnite it's a slight weakness.

But here on mobile, the more arcadey and accessible nature of the gunplay in FortCraft (which again directly reflects that of Fortnite) works better.

The whole visible hit points system lets you know instantly that you're doing damage, which can be a godsend on a tiny iPhone screen, or when your thumb is partially in the way of the action.

You can see where the gas cloud will stop

One touch I appreciated in FortCraft was that there's a physical marker in the level where the next stage of the deadly gas cloud is going to be.

This removes those moments where you're wondering whether the tree you're cowering behind or the building you're hiding in is going to be out of the safety zone.

Again, this isn't really a problem when you're playing a Battle Royale game on a large monitor or TV.

But on mobile, where everything's a lot more cramped and visibility can be compromised, I appreciated the convenience.


Generally speaking, FortCraft is in a pretty good state at this early point.

There are a couple of weak areas - the UI indicator for locating your team mates at distance is a glitchy mess, for example, and there are a fair few buildings that can't be entered.

But all in all I found my first few matches to be quick to get into, easy to parse, and very intuitive. More to the point, I got the kind of end-game adrenaline rush that only BR games can engender.

Lets not kid ourselves here - we're all eagerly anticipating Fortnite's mobile debut. In the meantime, however, FortCraft is well worth checking out, if only to sharpen your skills ahead of the real deal.


Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy 15 March 2018
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