If you want to survive until the very end in Fortnite, you’ll have to make liberal use of its building mechanics. The ability to quickly cobble together walls, floors, rooftops, stairs, and traps differentiates Fortnite from competitors such as Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone. Taking advantage of these features sets the great Fortnite players apart from those who go down before the circle even begins to shrink. Here are some essential tips for building your way to success in Fortnite.
Swing that pickaxe
Almost everything you see on the battle island is destructible. Trees, rocks, abandoned cars, and even pre-made buildings are fair game. Basically, everything besides the ground can be hacked to bits with your pickaxe. And to build, you must use it. Anytime you are on the move, you should chop the stuff that is around you. When you break something down, it becomes one of three resources that you can use to build with.
- Wood: Trees, boxes, lots of buildings — wood is all around you, the easiest resource to find.
- Stone: Rocks, mainly — you can find rocks near some trees and in less dense parts of the map.
- Metal: Cars, machinery, — shiny metal is easy to spot as it mostly comes from big objects like cars.
Each of the three materials can be used to craft walls, stairs, bridges, etc. While you can make the same structures with each, they don’t come together at identical rates. Wooden structures build the quickest, followed by stone, then metal.
Be careful, though: Swinging your pickaxe makes a lot of noise. Don’t get so caught up in the gathering of resources that you forget to look around for other players.
Creating cover on the fly
Gathering building materials pays off when you need some quick cover while moving about the map. Usually, building on the fly is needed when someone is shooting at you, but you can also use building to your advantage when you’re the aggressor. There are two types of useful covers that you can throw up in a pinch.
First, you can build a simple wall for cover. You will want to use wood since it builds the quickest. From there, you can peek around the corners to try and see where the fire is coming from. You can also add a window to the wall with the edit function (“O” on PS4, “B” on Xbox One, “G” on PC). The wall will be broken into nine blue-lit panels. Press the firing trigger (or key) on any one of the panels (the center panel works best for cover), then press the edit button again to confirm your selection. Alternatively, you can build a door by also highlighting the bottom-center panel.
In this situation, the person firing at you may also give up their position by shooting at the wall itself to try and break it. Since bullets leave tracers in the air, you can identify the origin of the gunfire if you don’t already know it.
If you want a more versatile — albeit risky — cover, build a set of stairs. Defensively, you should really only do this if you know where the fire is coming from, i.e. you can see the player and they are relatively close to you and on the same level. While crouched, you can inch up the ramp, using the stairs for cover. The slightly higher vantage point will give you a bit of an edge. Stairs can be useful for attacking in the open, too. You can set down two or three sets of stairs to catch an unwitting player off guard by spraying bullets from above.
Building to avoid the storm
Building structures can also help you cover crucial ground across Fortnite‘s sprawling, undulating map. When the storm is coming and you have to get into the safe circle, it may feel natural to just hoof it by foot, following the green grass toward safety. But as you find out quickly, the path toward the circle often includes huge changes in elevation that can thwart your progress. Instead of running away from elevation changes to gradually work your way up or down, you can significantly reduce your trip by building. You can build bridges to cross gaps or stairs to scale up and down mountains.
Building to find loot
Inside of attics, on top of seemingly unreachable hills, in the back of garbage trucks — there is loot and treasure to be found that can only be reached by building. If you hear the treasure chest sound and see the glint of a bright light, but not the box, chances are you either have to break down a wall with your pickaxe or build a set of stairs to reach it.
Wait, not yet
In Fortnite, you cannot simply find an inconspicuous hiding spot and stay put throughout the match. The next instance of the storm should always be on your mind when making decisions, including about building. While building quick cover and creating new paths to reach your destination are good uses of your materials, fortresses, meanwhile, are not — at least not at first. It’s a waste of resources to build an elaborate structure when dozens of players still have their lives and there is ground you have to cover. You only end up having to leave your building behind. And excessive building with tons of players still posing a threat can often lead to an unseen attack. Resist the urge to build a cozy fort and keep breaking down materials because you’re going to need them if you make it to the end.
Hunkering down (up)
When the player count is low and the Storm Shield has become teeny tiny, now’s the time to start really using the wealth of materials you have gathered throughout the match. You can use any material to build a simple four-wall structure, but if you have metal or stone, each is more durable than wood. Ideally, you should use stone and metal to build walls.
Here is the thing though: You have to work fast, so you want to build compact structures, preferably ones with some elevation. Use a mix of walls, stairs, and floor pieces to build upward. We found that building a spiraling tower often works well, as it gives you height while maintaining a compact footprint and saving resources. Keep in mind, it’s a risk to go more than a few stories off the ground. If your fort is destroyed, you may not survive the fall. Make sure to build walls in any openings so that you can move freely about your fortress without exposure.
If your fort takes fire, you can repair any piece by highlighting it and pressing down on the right thumbstick on the console or the “F” key on PC.
Knowing when not to build
As mentioned, a surprising number of players never seem to build at all. Perhaps it’s because you have to switch between your weapons and build schematics, and it leaves you momentarily vulnerable. In some situations, though, the non-builders are smart. Any structure built by a player sticks out like a sore thumb next to a pre-made building. If you’re near cover already, such as a building, thick tree, or a group of concealing bushes, you should think twice about building. Even in the endgame, if you can hole up in an already-made fortress, it’s usually a better play than fiddling with your supplies. This way you can keep all your attention on your surroundings, scope out players, and maybe even destroy a feverishly built fortress belonging to someone else.