Ben Borthwick by on Jun 23, 2018

Fortnite on Switch: The beginner’s guide

Nintendo Switch is a very popular platform right now. After an immense opening year, Switch owners are being treated to Mario Tennis Aces, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate later this year, and a little something called Fortnite.

A surprise announcement at E3 2018, Nintendo and Epic have joined forces, bringing the even-more-popular-than-the-Switch Fortnite to the console, meaning that aside Android phones (the game’s coming soon to non-Apple phones), Fortnite: Battle Royale is on every platform known to man, in every universe, ever, all the time – always.

But there’s a fair few people who are brand new to the game, so it’s time you learn how to play, or at least the basics to get you started. After that, you’re on your own (unless I write some intermediate or advanced tips, which basically amounts to forcing my kids to tell me how to be good at Fortnite).

Understand how shields and health work

As with many games of this ilk, you can stack items and ammo, but how you consume your kit has its own methodology. There are two types of shields: mini shields (“minis”) and big shield (“big pot/big shield”). To get the full 100 shield on top of your starting 100 health you have to consume these in a specific way which means you might not want to chug right away.

First, consume two minis (25 shield each), getting you up to 50 shields. Then, drink down your big pot (50 shields each) to get you up to the full 100 shields. If you manage to find them, you could also just drink two big shields to get the full 100 that way.

Health items work the same way, with bandages (“bandies”) healing 15 health at a time but only up to a maximum of 75 hit points (hp). The larger medkit will heal you straight to 100, but takes a full ten seconds, instead of the four seconds bandies take.

Another item you can find is the chug jug, which gives you 100 health and 100 shields at once, but this takes 15 seconds which is a long time, so don’t be caught in the open doing it. Finally, Slurp Juice gives you 25 shields and 25 health, making it a great partner for bandages, but it’s not that common an item.

Build lots, but know you can build into mountains

The building in Fortnite: Battle Royale is key to survival. Whether you’re solo and using a Cozy Campfire (stand near it and it’ll slowly heal you) inside a self-built room, or you’re trying to revive someone and need to safely hide them away from enemy fire, it’s essential you know how to build, and you’ll only get better by practicing. 

However, one vital skill to learn is that you can build into mountains. “What the hell are you talking about, mate?” I hear you shout, and that’s fair, so allow me to explain before you so rudely interrupted me! Fall damage is a thing in Fortnite, you see, but sometimes you’ll need to get down a mountain in a hurry to regroup, recover, or just relax. As you slide off a far-too-high-up slope of a mountain, you can have your pencil and paper out and use the “flat” blueprint to build every now and then to create platforms for you to “fall” onto. Just as you can make your own stairs to climb, you can make your own stairs to fall, and this will save your life many times.

Don’t be scared to die. Get into the fight!

If you spend loads of time running around and not actually fighting, you’ll never get good at the fighting. Get involved! Grab a gun, any gun (try them all, find what works for you, but you should always have a shotgun and some form of automatic rifle), and go find people to kill. You don’t always have to get a Victory Royale, but you won’t get one without being insanely skilled with building and traps, or getting down and dirty and having some gunfight action.

If you hear a sparkly noise, it’s a chest: get it

Chests are great, so if you hear a strange noise that sounds like “something good”, then that’s exactly what it is. Like in any game, sound is a key tool to use in order to survive. Chests will almost always have something good in them so use your ears to guide you toward it. Often the chests will be a little bit hidden: maybe in the rooftops so you have to build up and smash through, but they’re always worth it. Explore the map, get used to where chests are hidden, and grab them. Oh, but until you are a little more experienced, avoid loot llamas and loot drops because they have the really good stuff inside them, and you’ll get wrecked if you are a newcomer to the game.

Avoid Tilted Towers and Dusty Divot until you have the experience to cope

You might win a match with a few kills under your belt, but if you go to Tilted Towers, Dusty Divot, or any of the main populated areas (Retail Row, Pleasant Park), you’ll be downed pretty quickly as they’ll be full of people who are hyped aggressive and there to just get multiple one-pump shotgun kills. People who have been playing the game far longer than you will know exactly where to hide, when to strike, and will make short work of you. Spend time getting to know the mechanics, and learning the gun drop-off ranges before getting into fights where you’ll see ten people going at it all at once.

See those apples on the floor? That’s health. Also, trees are valuable!

Very recently Epic Games added yet more ways to heal up, and if you see an apple on the floor and need a quick health boost, consuming the apple will give you 5hp. On top of that, blue mushrooms can give you 5 shield points. 

You’ll find both, more often than not, around trees. Get your pickaxe out and smash the trees up, because you won’t be able to build without the resources to do so. Get used to smashing everything to bits, because anything breakable (which is everything) will give you either wood, metal, or brick, and you can build with all three materials separately, giving you plenty of ways to outmanoeuvre your opponents, or just escape from danger.

Building materials, broken down

Wood is the quickest resource to build with, but is also the weakest. Brick has a medium build time and a medium strength. Metal takes the longest time to build platforms with, but is obviously the strongest material – it’s also the hardest material to get. This may all seem obvious, but if you’re building wooden wall after wooden wall while backing away from a gunfight and it’s crumbling as fast you can build it, maybe next time you’ll want to consider brick or metal. That said, putting down a wood wall to protect the “real” wall you’re building behind it that’s made of metal might be a good idea. 

Just saying…


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11 months ago


Always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I adore but don’t get lots of link like from.


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