7 Fortnite building tips and tricks that will help you survive

7 Fortnite building tips and tricks that will help you survive

If you want to survive until the very end in Fortnite, you’ll have to be aware of your surroundings, know your weapons inside and out, and make liberal use of the game’s building mechanics (if you’re playing a mode that supports building). In 2022, Epic Games created new “Zero Build” playlists for Solos, Duos, Trios, and Squads, allowing players to focus more on their aim rather than on building a fortress around themselves for protection. Still, building is a key part of Fortnite for many players. 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 first circle even begins to shrink.

Here are some essential tips for building your way to success in Fortnite.

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Swing that pickax

Character swinging axe in Fortnite.

Almost everything you see on the battle island is destructible. Trees, rocks, abandoned cars, and even existing buildings are fair game. Basically, everything besides the ground can be hacked to bits with your pickax. 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 pickax 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

Character building structure in Fortnite.

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 (Circle on PlayStation, B on Xbox, A on Nintendo Switch, and 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 away 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 want a more versatile — albeit risky — type of 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

Character building structure in Fortnite.

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’ll 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. Sometimes, depending on where you end up in relation to the storm, building is your only way to safety, so be sure to always have supplies on hand just in case.

Building to find loot

Character building structure in Fortnite.

Inside 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 bright light but not the box, chances are you either have to break down a wall with your pickax or build a set of stairs to reach it. It also helps if you turn on Visualize sound effects so you get an on-screen notice when chests and enemy footsteps are close.

Wait, not yet

Character taking cover in Fortnite.

In Fortnite, you cannot simply find an inconspicuous hiding spot and stay put throughout the match (at least, not if you intend to win). The next instance of the storm should always be on your mind when making decisions 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 are still alive and there is ground you have to cover. You’ll 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)

Aiming down sights with sniper in Fortnite.

When the player count is low and the storm 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, use those materials because they’re more durable than wood. Ideally, you should use stone and metal to build walls, especially at the end of a match.

There is a small catch: You must work quickly. It’s best to build smaller, denser structures with some height as a feature to save time. By combining walls, stairs, and floor pieces, you can expand upward, gaining elevation. Players with some experience know that spiral towers tend to work well; the buildings are tall while maintaining a compact footprint and saving resources. It’s risky to build more than a few stories tall — your character may not survive falling from such a high height. To prevent your fort from getting destroyed, cover any openings so you’re able to move freely without being exposed to the enemy.

Keep in mind that, occasionally, a fortress can go up in flames. If you notice a fire is catching, repair essential pieces by highlighting the item and then pressing down on the Right thumbstick on the console or the F key on a PC.

Knowing when not to build

Character standing still in Fortnite.

You don’t have to build any new object or building if you don’t want to. Fortunately, “building” is not a crucial task during Fortnite gameplay. There are many players, in fact, who opt not to build new structures. New buildings can stick out in a landscape and leave a player vulnerable. While you’re building, an enemy can quickly sweep in and attack while you’re swapping weapons for crafting tools. 

It’s important to note that any structure you create could appear out of place in your environment. They may seem noticeably different from the pre-made buildings in Fortnite. A new design could draw attention to your base and possibly lure in opponents. If you take advantage of the structures already built, you may be able to save a bit of time, protect yourself, and camouflage where you’re hiding out easier. If you’re really short on time, consider hiding in bushes or trees for shelter.

Play Zero Build modes

Promo material for Zero Build featuring four characters from Fortnite.

If you aren’t great at building but opt to play one of the traditional Battle Royale modes, you’re probably going to have a bad time. Many players who participate in the traditional modes are skilled builders, so they’ll likely be able to take you out with ease if you’re unfamiliar with the building mechanic. Instead, play any of the Zero Build modes that support Solos, Duos, Trios, and Squads. These modes are great because they can help you learn the basic movement and shooting mechanics without worrying about your opponents quickly building a castle around them before you can take a shot. Once you’re familiar with the way Fortnite works in general, you’ll be better prepared to learn how to build.

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