At this point two weeks ago, neither Fortnite: Battle Royale nor PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds were on the iPhone or iPad in the U.S., but now both wildly popular games are fighting for our attention and downloads. Join us on Tuesday for our Apple Arcade show at 11 a.m. Pacific when we’ll play both games live and decide which one we love the most.
As you may recall, we’ve already played a bit of the beta for Fortnite: Battle Royale on iPad and iPhone and shared our impressions of the experience (along with some footage). On Tuesday, we’ll play both Fortnite and PUBG back-to-back and see in real-time how their controls and performance compare.
It hasn’t even been a fortnight since we learned that Fortnite: Battle Royale, Epic Games’ wildly popular multiplayer survival shooter, would be coming to iOS, and yet now it’s already on my iPhone and iPad, running far more smoothly than I’d expect from a freshly-minted beta. Only a comparatively small group of players currently have access, but what I’ve seen so far suggests that Epic wouldn’t have to do much to fling open the gates to the wider public. (You can sign up for the beta here.)
It’s hard to overemphasize how bold this release is. It’s exciting enough that we can play a game on our phones at the height of its popularity on Mac, PC, Xbox One, and PS4, but also because Fortnite allows us to play against players on those systems from our handheld devices. And yes, that means all at the same time. (Thanks to a spat between Sony and Microsoft, you currently have to deal with separate queues for PS4 or Xbox.)
Playing it feels a little like looking into the future: a future where resource-hogging, action-heavy games on desktops and consoles share living space on smartphones with barely a change in experience. We’ve seen this kind of things with Minecraft and Hearthstone, of course, but Fortnite is a different beast entirely. This is a game where the slightest hesitation or dawdling equates to death.
Fortnite: Battle Royale, if you haven’t heard, is a free-to-play survival game that builds off ideas in both the 2000 film Battle Royale and The Hunger Games book and films. In essence, you drop out of a bus floating in the sky and fight 99 other players to the death until only one is left standing. The main Fortnite game for Mac and PC is a paid game that’s based on building forts and fighting off zombies, but if we’re being honest, almost no one plays it in comparison. This—the battle royale—is the main attraction for gaming in 2018 so far.
You want to know about Fortnite Battle Royale on iOS. I want to know about Fortnite Battle Royale on iOS. And if you don’t think you do, consider that Fortnite’s popularity is such that Epic Games’ beta sign-up page crashed hard for well over an hour this morning, so crazy was the flood of people wanting to sign up. Make no mistake: If we happen to get a code within the next couple of hours, we’re totally going to devote our show to Fortnite tomorrow.
But if that doesn’t happen, have no fear! We’ve got some other cool stuff in store when we go live tomorrow at 11 a.m. Pacific! We received an invite to the alpha for World of Warcraft’s upcoming Battle for Azeroth expansion last weekend, so co-host Dan Masaoka and I will hop in and showcase its current performance on both a 2017 MacBook Pro and an iMac. We’ll also do a general hands-on with some of the popular MMO’s new features, which includes two new continents, new races, and new PvP "warfronts" inspired by real-time strategy games.
Mac gaming is no longer in quite the sorry shape it was in the days before Apple started using Intel chips, but game developers clearly still think of it as an afterthought. Truth is, if you really want to play the best new PC games on a Mac, it’s often better just to partition a bit of your hard drive for Windows (through a virtual machine like Parallels) or to stream games from another system. Waiting for a Mac port is like waiting for George R.R. Martin to finish A Song of Ice and Fire.
As we shared last year, few streaming apps pull this off quite so neatly as Nvidia’s GeForce Now, as the service hosts entire PC games you own on Nvidia’s servers and you simply stream them to your Mac if you have a strong internet connection. You don’t need ridiculously priced GPUs, and you don’t even need a proper PC. Unfortunately, it’s still locked behind a public beta that remains tough to get into.
If you have an Xbox One, though, you’ve now got a decent alternative for streaming games to your Mac in the form of the new OneCast app. For just $10 (regular price $20) and a decent internet connection, you can stream any game from your Xbox One straight to your Mac. I’ve spent a bit of time with it, and while it’s rough in spots, it generally works better than it probably has any right to.