Unless you’ve just awoken from suspended animation, there’s almost zero chance you haven’t heard of Fortnite. It’s a gaming phenomenon so widespread that streamers are getting rich from it, celebrities are jockeying to play it, and athletes are basing their celebrations on it.
Even better yet, Epic Games has made it so that just about anyone can play it, releasing its most popular mode, Fortnite Battle Royale, for free on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and now, mobile. Even when it was only available through invites on iOS devices, it proved to be just as much of a craze as it was on console, and maybe even more so since so many people have phones or tablets that can play it.
So let’s say you want to play but have never experienced Fortnite on console or PC. It might be a little intimidating to jump into it, but we honestly feel that mobile might be the easiest way to start out thanks to the touchscreen controls, so read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know if you’re brand new to the game.
Battle Royale 101: The object of Fortnite
The object of Fortnite Battle Royale is pretty simple: to be the last man or woman standing. Up to 100 players get dropped onto an island with no gear except for an axe, and you win by being either the last player (in solo matches) or squad (in duo or squad matches) left alive. The opening minutes are a mad scramble to find weapons and gear before running into too many other players, the better to get the drop on them and eliminate them when you do.
Keeping the action intense is the fact that a deadly storm renders ever increasing parts of the island uninhabitable (seriously, you die if you stay there) every few minutes, forcing the remaining players into an ever smaller area and increasing the likelihood they’ll have to fight it out. This keeps games from lasting forever and forces people not to play too defensively.
The game mechanics are common to many third-person shooters on mobile, with a virtual thumbstick to move, hold and swipe to look around and target and tap to shoot. But there’s one important difference you need to know …
What makes Fortnite different from PUBG and other Battle Royale games?
The biggest thing you’ll have to get used to is the building aspect of Fortnite. Just about any object or structure you find can be broken down into raw materials with your axe, and those materials can then be used to build fortifications, ramps and other structures to provide instant cover, get you to places you couldn’t otherwise reach, and other nifty tricks.
The building aspect can be a topic for its very own guide, but suffice it to say that learning to build is an important Fortnite skill that takes a little longer than the combat to master, and also separates the game from PUBG and other titles in the battle royale genre.
Is Fortnite really free to play?
It sure is — or at least the battle royale mode is, and that’s what everyone wants to play anyway. You can download the game for free and play as much as you want with no limitations. As you might expect, the game makes money through microtransactions, or what we call IAPs for mobile games. Happily, the items you can buy are purely cosmetic: costume pieces and outfits, emotes, etc. Epic Games has done an excellent job ensuring the game isn’t pay to win.
Fortnite does offer what’s called a Battle Pass, but you don’t need to buy one. It simply allows you to progress through the seasonal ranks faster and earn more cool cosmetic stuff than playing completely for free. It’s 100 percent optional, but it’s something you might want to consider if you’re bitten by the same bug that so many people have been so far.
And that’s all you really need to know before diving in and seeing how long you survive your first matches. There’s no matchmaking, which means you will be in against experienced players right away, but taking your lumps in the early going is part of the fun, and as soon as you’re eliminated you can queue right up for another match.
The best way to learn is by playing, and of course, by reading the rest of our Fortnite mobile guides too. Good luck!