Fortnite: Battle Royale tips for gamers just starting out

Just joining the Fortnite: Battle Royal hype train? Here are some essentials before getting on board.

Oliver Padilla Former Video Producer
5 min read

Let's face it, Fortnite is already the game of the summer, but if you're late to the party, getting started can be a little intimidating. You're about to dive into a shark pit of experienced players and you'll need to learn quickly. Here's our advice for absolute beginners, whether you're joining in on the recently-released Nintendo Switch version of Fortnite or just trying to keep up with the cool kids.


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Step 1: Find a wingman

Fortnite: Battle Royale comes in different flavors. You can play in a squad, which puts four players on a team. Duos puts two players on a team, and Solo has you playing, well, solo.

The game itself does not change with team size, but your strategy will. For example, in Squads and Duos, once you lose your health, you are in an injured state for a limited time, during which a teammate can revive you. In Solo, once you go down, you're out for good.

Starting out with a group is ideal for new players. This allows you to stay close to a buddy and learn the controls without (majorly) hurting your team's chances. Staying close to experienced players will give you a good idea of where weapons and resources are located, as well as where battles go down.

Just be sure to follow their lead. For example, there's nothing worse than being that one person standing in the middle of the open field exposing your team's position. So if they're crouching and sneaking, follow suit. Solo games are going to be more challenging for obvious reasons: Your lack of expertise, map knowledge and teammates will leave you highly vulnerable to the competition.

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Step 2: Select the right control setup

Fortnite is a cross-platform game. This means console players are competing alongside PC users -- this presents severe disadvantages for players on the console. Players using a mouse and keyboard can aim faster more accurately compared to those using a control pad.

As a long-time console gamer, I'm used to playing shooters with a controller. I accept my disadvantage as a PS4 player, but there are options to level the playing field. For select games, PS4 has mouse and keyboard support: including Fortnite. So if you can't get Fortnite on your PC or most of your friends are playing on console, you have the ability to plug in a mouse and keyboard via USB. Unfortunately, this option is not supported on Xbox One .

You should also consider your controller layout options. There are four different key bindings available for different types of players: Quick Builder, Old School, Combat Pro and Builder Pro.

A common tactic when engaging in a shootout is to quickly build walls around yourself to create your own cover. Because of that, I've become accustomed to the Builder Pro controller layout. It lets me accurately place walls and stairs more quickly than the default layout.

There's no one button layout that's better than the others though. It comes down to how comfortable you feel and your personal playing style. So try each of the control schemes and pick one that fits best.

Step 3: Learn to build quickly

One of the most effective strategies is to build fortifications quickly. Speaking with a few Fortnite players in-game, it became clear to me that a player's strength is not in how accurately they shoot, but how quickly they build.

Throwing down walls and stairs in a few seconds gives you the advantage of the high ground, as well as protection. Getting sniped from an unknown location? Building a quick and tiny fort can buy you some time to figure out where you're getting shot from. It doesn't have to be big or elaborate, a 1x1 square is enough if you're in a pinch. But it could be the difference between life and death.

Building takes time to master, especially in the heat of battle. And it's still something I constantly struggle with. When I get ready to engage an opponent and miss the first shot, I've already significantly lowered my chances of surviving. Within a few seconds my opponent has their mini-fort nearly completed, while I'm left exposed.

Happiness is a quick build.

Oliver Padilla/CNET

Building forts as a defensive strategy is well and good, but building an offensive fort is even better. Spending the first few minutes of the game getting material is paramount for late-game fort building. If you find yourself close to the inner circle with time on your hands, it's worth building fortifications. A complicated mess of stairs and walls (with traps to boot) can protect you from nearly anything.

That said, always make sure your fort foundation is elaborate. Players can take down large forts in an instant if they're able to clear the bottom level of all stairs and walls. All of that hard work can go up in smoke if you don't prep sufficiently.

Building is so effective that Epic is considering a balance patch, which the community hasn't exactly celebrated.

Step 4: Choose the right weapons

In Fortnite, you're only allowed to carry up to five different items. Deciding which weapon or item to keep can get tricky. Luckily, the weapons and items are divided into five levels of rarity and potency. Each one identified by a color.

  • Common: Grey
  • Uncommon: Green
  • Rare: Blue
  • Epic: Purple
  • Legendary: Orange

It's almost always a better option to exchange a lower tier weapon for a higher tier. A common shotgun, no matter how much you love it, will be worse than a rare pistol. One exception is a weapon with a scope. Given their rarity overall, and their usefulness in scouting the map and in long-range battles, always keep at least one regardless.

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Step 5: Be patient

Being patient is paramount. After all, the goal of the game is to be the last one standing and not the person with the most kills or the tallest tower. It's easy to get excited or impatient and rush opponents when you might be at a disadvantage. If you see a player running, it's best to let them go. Of course, always try to remember where they're heading so your situational awareness is on point.

When playing with a team, you can be more aggressive. Communication is key. Flanking is a common strategy: One player engages and draws attention while the rest of the team comes from the side to take out the enemy. It sounds simple, but it requires a lot of conversation to effectively coordinate. Fortnite has a compass at the top of the screen: use it to instruct teammates where enemies are located, where they should be searching and where enemy fire is coming from.

Getting an elusive Victory Royale win is tough. In my short time playing, I've only been able to win one game with my squad and I've gotten a second place finish in solo play.

Even with these introductory tips, you'll run into some growing pains, but with a little luck at Lucky Landing and some squad help on Fatal Fields, you'll be well on your way to that first Victory Royale. Catch you in Tomato Town!

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