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Biggest mistakes you're making in Fortnite: Battle Royale

Fortnite: Battle Royale is one of today's hottest games — play a few rounds, and you'll see why. Unfortunately, all that popularity comes with a cost. At any given time, there are millions of players battling it out in Fortnite's free-to-play multiplayer mode, and they're all out to get you. After all, at the end of a Fortnite match, only one player can be left standing.

Thankfully, there's an easy way to get better: avoid making some of the following rookie mistakes. The following tips and strategies won't transform you into an expert player overnight, but they should help you get over the initial hump. Play smart and put in the time and energy, and soon you'll be enjoying all of the chicken dinners — sorry, victory royales — that you can handle.  

You're playing like a coward

When you've got 99 other players skulking around, looking to shoot you, things can get stressful. So looking for comfort in the bushes or in one of Fortnite's abandoned structures seems tempting. Besides, even if you have to move when the storm that shrinks the battlefield sets in, it's relatively easy for patient players to sneak their way into the top 10 by staying out of sight and avoiding potentially game-ending conflicts.

However, according to top-level players like pro streamer Gernader Jake, the number one mistake that new Fortnite: Battle Royale players make is playing too defensively. Even if you manage to become one of the last players standing without firing a shot, you're going to have to kill someone eventually if you want to take the top spot. That means that you need to know your way around Fortnite's various weapons, and that's something that you can only learn with experience.

You shouldn't be reckless, of course. Rushing head-first into the middle of a firefight is an easy way to get offed. Observe and pick your shots carefully, but don't shy away from combat, either. Simply put, you need practice to get better at taking out other players. You might lose a lot at first, but your game will get better in the long-term. Besides, there's no penalty if you log out of an ongoing game after you die, so feel free to experiment. Even if you lose, it only takes a few seconds to get right back in the action.

You're forgetting what makes Fortnite special

Epic hasn't denied that Fortnite: Battle Royale is heavily inspired by (if not entirely ripped-off from) PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, but Fortnite has one system that PUBG doesn't: crafting. It's a crucial part of the game in Battle Royale, particularly near the end of a round, and you'll want to master it as soon as possible.

For example, if someone starts shooting at you, quickly surround yourself with walls. The same goes when healing — you don't want to be caught out in the open if you don't have to be. A well-placed ramp can help you climb hills quickly. When you're one of the final players left, constructing a good base is important: you'll want elevation so you can pick off your enemies from above, and you'll need good protection as the number of hiding spots disappears. 

If you need help figuring out what to build, this variation on a basic 1x1 structure is a good place to start learning. If you're playing on PC, remapping your quick-building buttons to keys like F and V can be a big help, too.

Crafting comes with risks, of course. Gathering materials takes time and makes noise, and player-built structures stand out on the map, potentially giving away your location, but it's worth it. Watch steams and videos of successful Fortnite players for inspiration, and get used to crafting structures as quickly as possible.

You're mixing up your buttons

Gathering the right gear and weapons is only half the battle in Fortnite: Battle Royale. You'll also need to have the right weapon equipped at the right time. In Fortnite, firefights can be quick and brutal, and you don't want to be caught fumbling for the correct gun while your enemies pump you full of lead. In order to keep everything straight, many players recommend putting the same class of weapon in the same inventory slot every single time that you play, which will help you keep your buttons straight when the bullets starts flying.

A common pattern is to rank the weapons by range: shotguns go first, then assault rifles, then the sniper rifles. The exact order isn't as important as consistency. If you don't have to stop and think about which button does what, you'll save a few precious moments during battle. In Fortnite, that can mean the difference between a winning run and a quick trip to the elimination screen.

You've got your head in the clouds — literally

All players in a match of Fortnite: Battle Royale start in the same place: in the sky. As such, you need to selecting the right place to start your descent onto the playfield and also make sure you reach the ground quickly. In the early stages of a match, your focus should be on looting weapons and gathering materials quickly. You want to be well-prepared for the battles to come, and you want to make sure you gather as many goodies as possible from your starting location — before other players arrive and gank them.

Thankfully, there are a couple of tricks to help you with this. For one, don't open your glider on your own. It'll deploy automatically at some point, and since you fall faster with the glider stowed away, the longer you can remain in free-fall the better. Secondly, make sure you stay over flat, low-elevation terrain like open fields or rivers. The glider emerges based on the height of the ground below you, so if you're falling over mountains or other high points, you might trigger the glider before you're ready. That means a slower descent, which means that your opponents might take all of the good stuff before you hit the ground. Don't let that happen. Fall smart, and fall fast.

You're not using all of your senses

Most video games rely on visuals to communicate to players. But if you don't also listen carefully during each match, you'll miss out on lots of valuable information.

It's vital that you listen for footsteps, gunshots, and the noises the pickaxe makes during resource gathering. The noises that characters make in Fortnite are "louder" than in many other multiplayer shooters, so you should have plenty of time to prep for battle (or run away) when you hear other players nearby. In Fortnite, sound is directional, too, so invest in a good pair of headphones. If you need some recommendations, Reddit has you covered — and don't worry. Your cans don't need to be fancy. And if you turn off the in-game music, too, the important sound effects will be much easier to hear — so you won't miss anything.

There's more to Fortnire's sounds than the other characters' noises, too. Treasure chests and safes, which contain the best loot, make a specific sound when you're nearby. Some players compare the noise to a heavenly choir, so if you hear something like that, start looking — and keep in mind that the chest might be hidden behind walls or other objects. 

Finally, be mindful of the noise around your actual body, too. Sometimes, your headset's microphone will pick up ambient noise — especially if you're blasting music while you play — which will make its way in-game. Don't let that happen to you, but feel free to punish anyone else who makes that mistake.

You're a good hunter but a lousy gatherer

Stock up on crafting materials as possible early. It's hard to gather supplies when the map is smaller and you've got an enemy on your six — and the last thing you want is to run out of materials when your tower's only half-finished or you're in the middle of a firefight.

Make sure you exploit the weak point system every time that you swing your pickaxe. Fortnite: Battle Royale doesn't have a tutorial, so many players don't know how this works, and mastering it will give you an easy and immediate advantage. When using the pickaxe, a blue circle appears on your target. Hitting it will do more damage to the structure. Hitting every target will halve the time that it takes to cut down a tree, break a rock, or demolish a wall. That's a huge advantage when you're trying to harvest materials quickly, and should help you beat opponents to hidden chests, too.

Some fans also recommend leaving trees with some health remaining, since stumps can leave a trail for other players to follow. That's easy enough to do — just stop swinging your axe before the tree is fully looted and it'll stay standing — but it's also a controversial strategy. Some people prefer to stay hidden. Others like to gather as much wood as they can. Try both, and see what works best for you.

You're standing a little too proud (or standing at all)

Unlike PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, you can't crawl through the brush in Fortnite: Battle Royale – but you can crouch. While it makes you a smaller target and helps you blend in with the brush, it also makes your weapons more accurate, particularly when you're firing an assault rifle.

So let's talk about accuracy. Fortnite has a system known as "bullet spread" or "bloom." In short, where you aim is only one factor in deciding whether or not your shot hits. There's also a random element. Your bullets will always hit somewhere inside the crosshairs, but they won't necessarily fire straight down the middle. Thanks to bullet spread, they might hit the edges of the circle, the center, or anywhere in between.

Fortnite's bloom effect is notoriously aggressive and often leads to missed shots. There are only a few things you can do to mitigate it. Crouching shrinks the size of the crosshairs, reducing the bloom, as does staying still and pausing between shots. Even if you do those three things, you'll still miss fairly often. Thankfully, Epic is working on improvements, including changes to first-shot accuracy. For now you'll need to crouch, stand still, and hope the gods of RNG hear your prayers.

You don't know what you're working with

There are three different types of crafting materials in Fortnite: wood, brick, and steel. Using the right material can have a big impact on your chance of survival.

Thanks to Redditor srsCookie, we know that every material has three different statistics, all related to how robust the material is. When you first put down a structure made out of a given material, it starts with a given amount of health, or hit-points. As time goes on, the structure gains health until it reaches its material-determined maximum. Wood structures start with the most health and grow the fastest, but have the lowest maximum health. Steel is the opposite: it's weaker than wood at first and takes longer to grow, but it has the most health overall. Brick falls somewhere in between. It gains health at the same rate as steel, but starts with more hit-points than steel and less than wood, while its max health is halfway between the other two.

In practice, this means wood is great if you're dropping walls to block incoming attacks, but it doesn't result in durable structures. Steel is perfect for building towers and bases, but using it to deflect bullets in the middle of a firefight is a death sentence. Situationally, brick isn't really as useful as either, but it's a lot more common than steel and serves as a fine backup.

Visibility is a concern, too. Wood walls have large gaps that reveal your position to the enemy, while steel is very hard to see through. If you're trying to hide, go metal.

You have more studying to do

Here's Fortnite: Battle Royale's worst-kept secret: chests don't spawn at random. Sure, when you're first getting started, it might look that way. Fortnite: Battle Royale's map only has a finite number of chest spawn locations, however, and while every match has fewer chests than spawn points, the chests won't appear anywhere other than these predefined locations.

At first, you'll probably be too busy getting the hang of combat and crafting to worry about it. Once you've got a handle on the basics, however, pull up one of the many player-made maps out there and come up with a few good routes for looting. Memorize both chest locations and good spots for gathering materials along the way, and try to steer clear of spots that seem too popular with other players. 

Ultimately, the goal is to commit a few reliable routes to memory so that you can get off to a good start every time. Know your map, and loot your way to victory.

You're not robbing corpses correctly

Ransacking the bodies of defeated foes is a great way to pick up crafting supplies, consumables like bandages and medkits, and better weapons. But you want to be careful. For one, firefights are noisy and attract lots of attention. As a result, you never really know who's watching. Getting a kill is exciting, but don't rush right over to a corpse to take your spoils. Looting bodies leaves you vulnerable, and savvy players sometimes camp during a skirmish and pick off the victor when he or she starts plundering. Be patient and hold off a few minutes — or, if you're feeling confident, wait and use the corpse as bait for more victims — er, players.

Even more importantly, if you have a full inventory, equip your pickaxe when looting corpses. Normally, when you pick up weapons, you'll drop whatever's currently equipped. When looting a body, it's easy to accidentally drop one of your favorite guns and replace it with a weaker one, and you'll waste valuable time (and leave yourself open to attack) while trying to get everything back where it should be.

However, you can't drop the pickaxe. Keeping that tool in-hand will make sure that you gather ammo, stackable medkits, crafting supplies, and the rest while making sure your carefully constructed arsenal stays intact. Of course, if your now-defeated opponent has a better weapon than you, go ahead and grab it. Fortnite: Battle Royale can be brutal, and you're going to need every advantage that you can get.