Beginners' Guide to Fortnite: Battle Royale

Chances are you've heard about Fortnite, the battle royale game that's blazing a hot path and has everyone turning their heads. It recently got soft-launched for iOS with full crossplay compatibility with PlayStation 4 and Windows 10.

If you're just now picking the game up, and looking for a good way to get started, we've got everything you need right here!

What is Fortnite?

Fortnite is a unique video game by Epic that got its roots as a zombie defense shooter, but a little later on in its life it was updated with a "Battle Royale" mode. It's named after the budding new genre that has everyone addicted.

Battle Royale Games Explained

It's probably adequate to boil all battle royale games down to one common theme: kill everyone, and survive. Think "Hunger Games," but available to you in a digital digest on a grander scale.

While each game approaches the concept differently, they all typically exhibit much of the same pattern. You and as many as 99 others spill out onto a map littered with weapons, first aid, and armor. As the free-for-all wages on, everyone is shepherded into increasingly shrunken circles until you're pretty much forced to go face to face with your opponents. The last man, woman, or team standing wins.

Why are they suddenly so popular?

Battle Royale games actually got their start as mods for existing games such as DayZ and H1Z1. The man behind the original mods - Brendan Greene - took what he learned and set out to make his own standalone battle royale game called PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG for short).

It's probably adequate to boil all battle royale games down to one common theme: kill everyone, and survive.

So what has everyone going so crazy over it now? Well, those games are getting more mature, and as more people experience the adrenaline rush involved with attempting to steamroll 99 other people to sweet victory, it's an easy game to fall for.

A typical sight in PUBG.

A typical sight in PUBG.

PUBG's record-setting launch caught the attention of numerous developers, but none bigger than Epic. Inspired by PUBG, they sought out to create Fortnite's mode as a more approachable rendition that featured more action, simplified mechanics, faster matches, unique style, and an innovative building system.

Fortnite's style and casual-friendly gameplay made it an instant hit with Twitch viewers, and word of mouth spread like wildfire thanks to the game's free-to-play nature. Now, it's even drawing celebrity attention and remains at the center of the gaming memes world.

What does Early Access mean?

Fortnite is still technically in Early Access. What this means is that the game is not considered finished despite the fact that it's freely playable and receives regular content and updates.

The Early Access designation is typically used for games which you can buy in order to play an unfinished copy of early, which is how Fortnite's original game mode, Save the World, was offered. The Battle Royale game mode, however, launched freely playable for anyone to enjoy, even if they didn't buy the original Early Access release. You can think of it as more of an open beta in that regard.

That means that while you can enjoy the game, know that Epic is planning on adding more features and making additional changes as time goes on. On a less positive note, this also means that there can be a healthy amount of bugs introduced in each new update and things aren't guaranteed to work all of the time.

This is all somewhat of a non-issue for PC and console players, but those joining in on the fun thanks to the mobile launch on iOS will get stung by some of these quirks right away. For instance, voice and text chat are currently unavailable. You also can't use a Bluetooth controller.

How to Play Fortnite

From the very start, Fortnite is an intense game to get into. 100 individuals, 50 teams of 2, or 25 teams of 4 all fly into an 8x8km map on the groovin' Battle Bus. You all jump out, rushing to the ground to find your first killing tools.

What's the Goal?

Your number one goal is to survive as the last one standing. As you'd guess, though, it's easier said than done. You'll have to compete with other players who want nothing more than to take you down and empty your pockets.

You also have to contend with The Storm. It's an evergrowing threat that compels you to seek safety, as if you're caught in it then you can say goodbye to significant chunks of your health bar.

The eye of the storm is the only place you and the others are safe, and it gets smaller and smaller (and more deadly) as time moves on.

Getting Your Loot

Your first priority after you've jumped out of the Battle Bus is to find a place to land and find your first loot. Loot is anything you can find that'll help you out in this savage royale.

This can range from your weapons and their ammo to healing items, traps, and explosives. All these items can be found throughout the world, mostly near or inside pre-built structures. You'll especially want to keep an eye out for special loot crates as these can contain rarer items.

The first thing you'll want to find in almost every situation is a gun, especially if you've managed to drop at the same location as others. You'll typically have to shoot your way out of these scenarios.

Taking Your Shots

Fortnite is a shooter at its core, so those who have some experience in that realm may immediately find comfort. L2 (on PS4) lets you aim down sights, R2 lets you fire the rounds. You'll reload with the Square button and crouch with Circle. Headshots deal more damage.

Easy. The only thing you really need to worry about is having your aiming skills on point because you'll be fighting early and often.

Gather Building Materials

At some point throughout the game, you'll want to grab some wood, brick, or metal. These materials can be harvested throughout the world using the pickaxe that you start out with.

Aim to have at least 100 pieces of each material by the time you reach the halfway point of the match. That's because building is a big part of what it takes to be successful in Fortnite.

Build a Path to Victory

In the mid-to-late game stages of Fortnite, building becomes a pretty big part of the experience. Players use their materials to build and take shelter in sky-high fortresses within the eye of the storm.

They'll even use the materials during firefights. Being able to build on the fly allows you to build your own cover as you look to engage, or even disengage, enemies. Often, the best builder -- and not always the best shooter -- can be the deadliest.

Try Fortnite Today

Think you have what it takes to stand tall over 99 others in a battle to the death? You can try Fortnite: Battle Royale right now for free on PS4, PC, and mobile with Crossplay, as well as on Xbox One.

Try Fortnite for Free

Quentyn Kennemer