As an Android user, I’ve been waiting a long time to play Fortnite on the go. First, there was the Nintendo Switch version, which I was incredibly excited about until I realized I couldn’t access my PS4 account on the tablet. Then, developer Epic announced that the mobile version of the battle royale shooter was expanding from iOS to Android, and it finally launched last week. For the most part, it’s just what I expected, apart from one major change: on my Galaxy S7 Edge, Fortnite looks like a low-poly PlayStation-era game. And I kind of love it.
Once you get around the install process, Fortnite works surprisingly well on mobile. My phone isn’t exactly brand-new, yet the battle royale game runs pretty smoothly. I haven’t experienced any major slowdown so far, even when I venture into more populated areas with lots of players running around, or where elaborate structures are being built. Just like on iOS, the controls take some getting used to; a touchscreen isn’t the most precise way to move or aim, and I still haven’t figured out how to properly build with my fingertips. In some ways, it’s like learning to play a whole new game.
But the biggest change for me has been visual. I’ve spent countless hours playing Fortnite on PS4, and its map has become a place I know very well. The shady forest of Wailing Woods, the calming Loot Lake, and even brand-new areas like the dusty Paradise Palms. There’s a familiarity that I really love. But on my phone, those places are all transformed into something completely different. Clear lakes are now flat, blue circles. Trees are chunky, angular monstrosities. When I parachute in from the battle bus, it takes a few moments before buildings, mountains, and trees pop into existence, giving the map an eerily empty quality. Even the skins I’ve spent so much money on now have jagged edges, as if they were last year’s models.
These are all technical issues, things that happen when you try to cram a big game onto a tiny phone. But they’re also endearing. Some of my favorite games are from the original PlayStation era, and I can’t help but feel some nostalgia for that time. I miss Cloud’s absurd spikes in Final Fantasy VII, or the strangely flat textures on a new Gran Turismo car. Playing Fortnite on my phone brings me back to that time, but with a thoroughly modern game. As much as Fortnite is constantly evolving, with world-changing events that are slowly telling their own story, the act of playing can also become repetitive. Playing the Android version is a refreshing break, one steeped in nostalgia.