If you’re one of the few gamers out there who isn’t familiar with the free-to-play Fortnite, think of it as the video game version of The Hunger Games. 100 players are airdropped onto a playing field with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. It’s up to them to scavenge for weapons and supplies, cleverly hidden throughout the cartoon-styled landscape, to outlast or outgun their 99 opponents and be the last man standing to get the win.
It's a deceptively simple premise—we're shocked that it has emerged so late in video game history—and it's captivating gamers everywhere. Whether you’re a newcomer who wants to play for the first time or a seasoned survivor looking to hone their game, here are 13 hacks and facts to make you a force within Fortnite’s community.
1. The right stuff
Fortnite’s landscape is littered with weapons that’ll give you an advantage over other players. When you first drop, make sure you’re scavenging your balls off for pickups that’ll make you deadly at mid-range and a more versatile player as a result. We recommend the AR at the outset since it’ll be helpful against opponents with any range of other weapons, from the shotgun to the sniper rifle.
2. Drop zone
The game starts by flying every player into the playing field. An early drop may allow more of your opponents to get a sense of where you landed but it’ll also mean you’ll have boots on the ground first and that buys you first crack and extra time to scavenge for weapons and materials that’ll give you an advantage when you finally have to face off against other players. Go for an early drop with a late parachute deployment to get in on the first wave of that sweet, sweet loot.
3. Top gun
You’ll encounter more midrange battles in Fortnite than most other engagements, which is why we recommend the AR first and foremost, but you’d better be a crack shot with the sniper if you want to make it to the coveted number one spot. Fortnite’s sniper is a coveted weapon because you can do serious damage without exposing yourself to counter-attacks but it’s also a weapon that requires lots of practice, as it’s more unforgiving than the sniper rifles you’d find in many other games.
If you’re a newcomer and manage to snag a sniper, don’t hoard your ammo. Use that bad boy as much as possible to get a feel for it and you’ll be nailing headshots in no time. Consider crouching when you’re first using the sniper, it’ll give you a better handle on it at the outset.
4. High ground
If we learned one thing from those awful Star Wars prequels, it’s that the high ground = victory in a fight. Fortnite’s landscapes have huge variety but there’s always going to be a better vantage point from higher up. Secure the high ground that works best for you and watch as the peons impotently try to unseat you from your altitudinal throne.
5. Master builder
Combat strategy is important in Fortnite, but mastering the building elements of the game are equally, if not more, important. Once you’ve got yourself a decent gun, focus on stockpiling wood and stone, the one-two punch of building materials in the game, and get to building everything from blockades to stairways.
The controls for building on the fly can be a bit tricky and it’ll take time to build the muscle memory in your thumbs to get it right, but knowing Fortnite’s building systems inside out, including its variety of traps, will give you the advantage mid-firefight when the wall you just built offers up some extra cover. Expect to hear lots of insults about your mom when you pull of that feat FTW.
6. Use your ears
Fortnite’s many structures offer up the opportunity for lots of close quarter combat. Don’t be caught off guard when you’re looting buildings by taking a moment to listen for other players in the vicinity, whether they’re opening doors, taking shots or loudly running around. Silent really is deadly here and not being silent will probably get you killed. Playing Fortnite in headphones is a must for this reason.
7. Stop the drop
You know how we told you to master building? Doing so can be a lifesaver. Fortnite’s gameplay will punish you for drops from heights by diminishing your health, but you can mitigate that damage by building a platform below you during a fall, easing the distance fallen and saving valuable health points for when they really matter.
8. Use your inventory
It may take you a while to stumble on it, but Fortnite has an incredibly useful inventory screen that’ll give you a fast glance at all the items currently at your disposal. The game’s items run much deeper than just guns and lumber, so keep an eye out for pickups like shield potions that’ll give you a leg up in a firefight instead of letting them go to waste because you simply didn’t check your inventory.
9. Sliding doors
Fortnite’s great style isn’t just about looks. The game has lots of visual cues to help clue you in and inform your strategy. This is especially true about open doors, which are an indicator that a building has already been looted and isn’t worth your precious time. Unless you watched some unsuspecting chump walk into the building before you so you can nab an easy kill, move along.
10. Big spender
Win or lose, Fortnite rewards your gameplay with XP points that you can spend leveling up your character. Lots of players hoard their points to spend in big sweeps but stockpiling isn’t aways the best strategy. Instead, consider burning all your points on just the essential items that help sharpen your own play style will go much further than spreading it out among every item out there.
11. Bait the trap
Sure, there are actual traps you can pick up and use in Fortnite, but don’t overlook your ability to prey on your opponent’s natural tendency to gravitate toward things that are shiny. Loot is all over the game and certain pieces of loot will emit a shimmering noise to draw you toward it. Ignore your instinct to pick up that loot and, instead, find some cover nearby so you can pick off the next sucker who tries to grab it. Once they’re dead, that loot is yours anyway.
12. Tweaking the formula
Fortnite isn’t resting on its laurels. Adding to the original formula of every-man-for-themself, we’re seeing expansions to the game constantly that change the map, the loot and the dynamic. After a 50v50 mode made a splash a while back, we’re eager to see the upcoming 5x20 mode, where five teams of 20 players will clash on an updated map.
13. Clone wars
Fortnite’s premise and popularity is causing lots of developers to try and get in the game. While Fortnite itself was in development since 2011, delays pushed it back to a 2017 release, thanks largely to the similar gameplay of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and the way it captivated the PC audience, even during a beta run. Now, upcoming games like The Darwin Project, SOS and Crazy Justice, are putting twists on the battle royale formula and are set to give both PUBG and Fortnite a run for their money as they make their way to gamers everywhere.