Fortnite’s return to iOS via GeForce Now feels just fine

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Fortnite hasn’t been available on iOS since Apple yanked it from the App Store in August 2020, but I’ve been able to play it on my iPhone once again thanks to a closed beta on Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service. While it’s not quite as seamless an experience as using a native app, this GeForce Now loophole works a lot better than I expected.

With this closed beta, you’ll be playing a mobile-optimized version of the game. If you’ve tried Fortnite on iOS or Android before, the layout should feel familiar — the experience is well-designed for touch, with easy-to-navigate menus and large (though finicky) onscreen controls. This GeForce Now version also supports controllers, and I’ve played most matches with my iPhone plugged into my Backbone One.

The graphics aren’t amazing, but if that means the game plays smoother, I can deal.

The game feels as responsive as if I was playing on my Nintendo Switch or on my PS5, and I haven’t had any issues with latency. Your mileage may vary based on your internet connection, of course, and maybe I’ve just had a string of good luck. But I never felt like the fact it was streaming from the cloud hindered my ability to keep up in an intense firefight. Frankly, my biggest complaint with playing Fortnite on GeForce Now on my iPhone is that the screen feels too small, and that’s probably because I’m using an iPhone 12 Mini, which I can’t fault the streaming service for.

Until Apple allows the native Fortnite app back on the App Store, Nvidia and Epic Games have made an excellent workaround. My only other GeForce Now experience was with Inscryption, and while that was also very smooth, the turn-based card mechanics of that game don’t require any twitchy movements that could be affected by lag. Fortnite is much more action-heavy, requiring fast reflexes and quick thinking, but this touch-optimized version of the game I’ve streamed from GeForce Now plays as if it was installed on my phone.

This wasn’t a wise place to drop.

That said, it’s unclear when this GeForce Now version might be available more widely. You have to request access to the closed beta, and admission isn’t guaranteed, Nvidia says on its website. The beta is also only running for a vague “limited time.” But if you’ve been wanting to jump onto the newly flipped Fortnite island on your iPhone, you might want to sign up for the closed beta. Sure, you might have to wait a while until you can check it out, but you’ll almost certainly be waiting longer for the native app to come back to the App Store.

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