Nintendo has announced that Fortnite is being released for its Switch console to coincide with the opening of the E3 video games show in Los Angeles.
However, the release is limited to the title’s last-gamer-standing Battle Royale mode and will not include the original Save The World co-op content.
Nintendo also revealed Super Smash Bros Ultimate will include every character to have appeared in prior versions.
It described it as the “biggest crossover in gaming history”.
That means the fighting game will include the Japanese firm’s own characters – Mario, Zelda and the Splatoon Inklings – as well as those from third-party developers, such as Final Fantasy’s Cloud, Metal Gear Solid’s Snake and Sonic The Hedgehog.
Nintendo acknowledged that its decision to include so many fighters from the past meant that there was a limited number of new challenges.
But it added that Ridley – a dragon-like villain from the Metroid franchise – would be included for the first time.
The title is expected be one of the biggest releases yet for the 15-month-old games machine, and Nintendo spent the bulk of its video presentation describing the game’s features.
The multiplayer battle game – which lets up to eight players compete at once – is due to go on sale on 7 December.
Nintendo announced in April that it had sold 17.7 million units of the Switch to date, and forecast it would sell a further 20 million over the following year.
That would represent a much better result than that managed by its predecessor, the Wii U.
Many analysts believe that a lack of compelling content in the Wii U’s second year of release contributed to its underperformance.
The launch of a Switch edition of Fortnite – which is already a huge hit on other platforms – should help avoid a repeat of that problem.
Switch owners will be able to compete against those already playing Fortnite on Xbox One, PC, Mac and mobile devices, but not against PlayStation 4 gamers because of restrictions imposed by Sony.
“It was widely rumoured that Epic Games’ Fortnite was making its way to the Switch, but an earlier-than-expected release gives Nintendo a better chance of maintaining momentum through the summer months,” commented Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games research at the IHS Markit consultancy.
“In the past, Nintendo has often failed to maintain support from third-party publishers due to its content dominance on its own platforms. The early success of the Switch has altered that dynamic, with many publishers keen to support the platform.
“But aside from Fortnite, there were no major third-party surprises, which is perhaps a little disappointing, although also a reflection of the seasonality of Nintendo’s business, with lots of releases coming towards the end of the year.”
Other Switch games put in the spotlight during the Nintendo Direct presentation included:
- Daemon X Machina – a third-party “mech” flying-robots battle game from the Japanese developer Marvelous Entertainment, which is set to go in sale in 2019
- the two Pokemon Let’s Go releases announced last month – however the firm did not reveal any details of the “core” title previously promised for next year
- Super Mario Party – a mini-game collection that allows players to place two Switch consoles side-by-side to let characters shoot at each other and move between devices. It is set to become available on 5 October
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses – a top-down tactical war game set in a fantasy world, which is due to launch in Spring 2019
By Chris Foxx reporting from E3
There were no huge surprises in Nintendo’s presentation – the company had already announced most of the games it showed off before E3.
When Nintendo released its Switch console in 2017, it hit the ground running and brought many of its biggest properties to the console within months.
The release of Super Smash Bros Ultimate in December will fill one of the most notable first-party gaps in its line-up – and the inclusion of every hero that has ever appeared in the game will delight Nintendo fans
Nintendo called it the biggest gaming crossover in history – demonstrating its determination to throw everything it has at its comeback.
And the appearance of the multiplayer smash hit Fortnite on the Switch – as a free download – shows that third-party developers are willing to jump on board too.