Smooth runnin' in Tomato Town.
Fortnite: Battle Royale is currently one of the most played games in the world having adapted the base game to battle royale and capitalzed on the mainstream wave. And while it's available and free-to-play on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the PC version is arguably the best way to play the increasingly popular survival shooter. By no means is Fortnite a graphically demanding game, given its bright, colorful, and simple look. But we're here to breakdown what kind of visual quality and framerates you should expect with a quick graphics settings guide and some performance tips.
The Specs We're Working With
Being an Epic Games title, Fortnite uses Unreal Engine 4 (as does PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds), but when looking at the minimum specs, you'll see the game sets a very low bar to clear. Epic recommends some of the lowest-end specs for a game in 2017, and even the recommended specs are on the low-end, especially by today's standards:
- Intel Core i3 dual-core CPU at 2.4GHz
- 4GB RAM
- Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics
- Intel Core i5 quad-core CPU at 2.8GHz
- 8GB RAM
- Nvidia GTX 660 or AMD Radeon HD 7870
Of course, you'd want a little bit more power than what's recommended to get an ideal experience with this game. So, as we did with our graphics guide feature for PUBG, we tested out what we could get out of a modest, older mid-range system. We used a system equipped with the following specs:
- Core i5 3570K CPU at 3.4GHz
- 8GB RAM
- 4GB MSI GTX 970
Graphics Settings Explained
Now that we've outlined our test bench, let's peer into the graphics options Fortnite allows you to tinker with. For PC gaming veterans, the graphics settings menu shouldn't be surprising. However, with Fortnite's exploding popularity and free-to-play model, there are sure to be some players wondering what some of these terms mean and how it affects the game.
Resolution is the first thing to address, and we recommend using your monitor's native resolution. Throughout our tests, we used 1920x1080 (aka 1080p) at Fullscreen with the framerate set to Unlimited, although you can lock it to your monitor's refresh rate. 3D Resolution is essentially resolution scale. This allows you to effectively run a lower in-game resolution without having to force your computer to change from its native res. It's really only for very low-end systems, so you will definitely want to keep this at 100%, otherwise the game will look blurry.
View Distance dictates the point at which minor objects are rendered. Since this game revolves around a large-scale battlefield, it's best to keep this as high as possible. We're able to run the Epic setting, but it doesn't impact performance or visual quality much. You're still able to see structures, buildings, and enemies off in the distance even at lower quality.
Shadows determines the quality of object and player shadows. It can also be turned off completely. We recommend setting it to at least Medium because in a few instances, seeing a player shadow around a corner or poking out behind cover will help you track and anticipate enemy movement and could help you get the jump on 'em.
Anti-aliasing gets rid of jaggies around the edges of objects and surfaces. The higher the setting, the smoother and cleaner the overall image will look. The Medium option uses FXAA, which doesn't look the best, but hardly affects framerate. We have enough power to spare, so we used the High setting which uses Temporal AA and looks real nice.
Textures affects the detail on surfaces. Simple enough, so long as your graphics card has enough VRAM. Our 4GB GTX 970 handles the High setting without a problem. Effects is a bit tricky in that you won't see the difference in visual quality and framerate until explosions and destruction start to fill up the screen. Since these situations are the most hectic and most important to maintain a high framerate, we're going with a modest Medium setting. Post-processing encompasses effects like ambient occlusion and dynamic lighting. We kept it to Medium and saw some visual improvements, but it's one of the lesser noticeable in both graphical quality and framerate. Motion Blur comes down to preference and V-Sync should be left off.
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Performance And Framerate Ranges
With our specs outlined and graphics options explained, now we can get into some performance numbers; we're going to give a general range of FPS throughout several matches of Fortnite: Battle Royale. Our goal was to find a balance between framerate and visual quality, and we were able to maintain between 100 to 150 FPS as we traversed the map and combed the streets of the more busy city centers. When things got heated in a firefight, our FPS ranged from 80 to 110 FPS. We never experienced a dip below the gold standard of 60 FPS.
If you're on a slightly lower spec machine, we would recommend turning down anti-aliasing a notch or two. And if you're still in need of some more frames, turning shadows down will have the biggest impact. Turning effects down to low can also help stability during intense battles.
We also tried running the game with everything cranked up to Epic quality and got an FPS range of 50 to 85. This isn't bad by any means, so if you want a bit more flash, a mid-range system can handle it. On the flip side, with all the eye candy turned off and keeping the 1080p resolution, we were able to get up to 250 FPS, with dips to about 170 FPS during action. This shows a lot of flexibility for low-end systems to work with Fortnite.
Just as we expected, Fortnite is hardly a graphically demanding game and it's no surprise given the art-style. That's not to say the game doesn't look great, because there's certainly an appeal to the more lively, animated look of Fortnite. However, what we at least know is that the game runs smoothly with very few, if any, technical hiccups despite its large scale. Long story short, it's optimized well.
If you want more on this huge builder-shooter hybrid, be sure to check out our discussion on what made Fortnite so popular or look at our battle royale comparison between Fortnite and PUBG. Fortnite gets frequent updates, be sure to keep up on how the game has changed with the recent 3.1.0 update.