Fortnite is easy to jump into for anyone that’s touched a PC shooter in their lifetime. But get to the final 10 players and the game changes completely, rewarding twitch reflexes and perfect aim equally with your ability to build a beautiful (or messy) fortress in seconds. For anyone new to Fortnite, it’s the most frustrating ability to master, one that that nearly made me quit altogether. But don’t get too down on yourself—stick to a few simple principles, make a change or two to your habits, memorize a few important building patterns, and you’ll fare much better. Here’s some tips for getting started with Fortnite’s confusing building tools.
Once you’ve nailed the basics of building, take on sky-diving tactics with our Fortnite landing guide.
Gather resources on the go
There’s no use in learning to build if you don’t have resources to build with. Unless you suspect a player is nearby, keep your pickaxe in hand. Take swipes at objects of every sort as you move about (furniture is an easy target inside), and if you’re not pressed for time load up on wood. Hammer away at trees, but never finish them off—disappearing trees are a great way to alert everyone to your exact location. Be sure to stay mobile while you swing too. Squirm while you swing and jump on occasion to make sure your head doesn’t stay still for a second. An opportunistic sniper might be watching.
Remap your building keys
Fights like these aren’t easy with the default keymapping.
By default, the building keys are mapped to the function row, which is way too far out of reach for the average hand. You can also tap Q to scroll through the building components, but even that is too slow for Fortnite’s chaotic building battles. Remap the keys based on comfort and component priority. You’ll need walls and ramps at the ready most of the time, so consider mapping one to Q and another to F (or E, if you’re willing to learn a new ‘use’ key). Use Z, X, and C or any free mouse buttons for the remaining components, like floors, traps, and pyramids. Give yourself a few matches to get comfortable, but you should be able to switch to specific building components as quickly as any weapon. Experiment until you find a layout that feels natural.
Use ramps for cover in open areas
If you need to cross an open area and suspect you’re being watched, get your ramps at the ready. Zig-zag, jump, and throw up the occasional ramp as you make your way, and if bullets start raining down on you, lay down ramps as you run. Keep sprinting, but don’t necessarily run up every ramp you build. They’re partially meant for cover, but will also lead your pursuer into thinking that you’re about to leap over the lip of every ramp you throw down. Be erratic: run up ramps at random, throw a few out as distractions, vary the length, and you should make it out OK.
Learn to build a basic recon fort
Here’s the process slowed down.
This is one of the most essential structures in Fortnite, especially for beginners. Sometimes you’ll need to hold your ground or do a little recon, and this fort keeps you safe on all sides while giving you a nice way to peek out and trade shots. Drop four walls around your and jump up to get a ramp under your feet. If you need a better vantage point, you can always build up. Place four walls around the lip of your existing structure, jump and place a floor beneath you, and jump once more to get another ramp in place.
Keep in mind: you shouldn’t peek out of the same spot over and over again. Stay moving and keep any voyeurs guessing where you’re going to appear next.
Add a campfire for a powerful recon murder house
If you’re hurting and you built a recon fort as a quick defensive play, know that you can heal while you stop and pop. Campfires can heal from beneath the ramp in such a fort, so consider dropping one if you’re hurting but want to keep watch.
Build to break your fall
Good thing you mapped your floor piece key to something easy to reach, because now when you need to leap off a mountainside you can prevent an embarrassing death by dropping panels beneath your feet. Look down steep inclines as you slide down and drop a piece here and there. You’ll need to get a feel for what kind of fall does damage, so err on the side of caution when choosing to build, but don’t go overboard. The resources you save will come in handy later.
Ramp tunnels get you high, safely
A slow example that shows the basic principle. Get an anchor for your ramps and go.
The high ground wins games in Fortnite, but getting there can be a challenge if you’re getting shot at from every direction. When you’re in a bind but need to get up, make ramp tunnels. Start by dropping a wall that will act as an admittedly fragile base for the structure. From the base, throw down some ramps to run on, but—and this is the tough part—build a ramp roof from the wall base simultaneously. This should keep you covered from anyone that has the high ground already. You’ll need to pop back and forth between floor and ceiling, but if you get the hang of it (and no one destroys your base), then you should be fine. Maybe. Probably. Hard to say.
Edit your way out of a mess
During one-on-one building battles, players don’t always build with a plan in mind, resulting in massive towers that lead nowhere or boxy forts with walls on walls on walls. Resist the temptation to destroy your structures if you build yourself into a corner. Instead, memorize what editing structures does to them.
Removing one space from a wall creates a window, or an opportunity to get a quick shot in on an unsuspecting player. Throw in a back door to your recon fort by removing two blocks (center middle row and center bottom row) to make a sneaky getaway. Make a hole in the floor and drop through for the ultimate surprise attack, or remove the floor below a camper to stop their heart and ruin their day. Or, do like Ninja does, and make a little window just big enough for a remote controlled RPG to fly through. Don’t try to edit other players’ structures, though—you can only make changes to your own buildings.