sharpdressersscreenshot.jpg
(Credit: Epic Games)

Have you ever wanted to live the dream of the Hunger Games while not actually wanting to put your one and only life on this planet on the line? Well you are in luck, there's an amazing game out there that's sweeping the world, and it does just that!

While you may have read about Fortnite online or seen discussions about it in social media, it's likely you've heard those around you discussing Fortnite at work by the water cooler, or perhaps even more likely, at the dinner table. When a game hits the lofty heights of popularity that Fortnite has achieved -- 125 million users globally according to Epic Games -- it has the ability to awaken curiosity in the nascent gamer in all of us.

The good news is that Fortnite isn't a game where one has to have been in on the ground floor to enjoy gameplay or find success. Indeed, new players continue to come to the game in droves, and the free-to-play version, Battle Royale, is rife with inexperienced players who are on the same learning curve as every other newbie willing to try their hand at this incredible game.

fn-1.jpg

What makes Fortnite so popular?

Part of what makes Fortnite so popular and ubiquitous is its accessibility and cost (Battle Royale is free to play). It can be played on nearly every available gaming platform including PC/Mac, Xbox, Playstation, iOS, Nintendo Switch, and most recently, Android. Being able to pick up your phone and play a quick round of Battle Royale on an iPhone or Android phone while waiting at the dentist's office or during lunch offers gamers the chance to immerse themselves in a 100-player fight to the death, usually in under 15 minutes.

While accessibility is part of the equation, the ability to play anywhere isn't the real hook of Fortnite. Fortnite really shines in three key areas: Social interaction, customization, and variable rewards. Fortnite is inherently a social game, allowing you to play with your friends and relatives and work cooperatively to achieve the ultimate goal of being the last person standing at the end of the game.

SEE: Pokemon Go launches parental controls portal for managing the app

The variable rewards come from playing the game itself. First, one never knows what cross-section of players will drop into a game of Battle Royale (each game has 100 players from around the planet). Second, Fortnite has sufficient randomization of weapons, ammunition, and treasure chests to create what psychologists call a variable reward system. You never know when you're going to get something great, and when you do it feels fantastic!

But ultimately, once a player gets hooked on the "fight to the death" style of gameplay, the ability to customize your characters with cool outfits, dance moves (emotes), and specialized gear completes the cycle of wanting to play again and again. Beyond customizing characters, players have the ability to customize their playing style. Since Battle Royale can be played alone, or with teams of 2 or 4 players working together, it gives players the opportunity to specialize within the group. For example, one player may focus more on building structures, while another might master the sniper rifle. When these components are added together, it makes for a heck of a good time.

How to get started on Fortnite Mobile

For beginners, we're going to assume that you are playing the free Battle Royale to start. The game begins in the lobby where you can add friends, customize your character (this will cost money right off the bat), and select the game mode (Solo, 2 or 4-member squad, 50 v 50, Playground or Steady Storm). For our purposes select the 4-member squad mode and press the yellow Play button.

img0138.jpg

How to use Fortnite Mobile controls

Whenever a popular action/strategy PC/Mac game comes to a mobile device, there are always some tense moments to see how the controls are going to translate to the mobile environment. After all, when playing on a computer, you can use keyboard keys to achieve the required action with one keystroke, but on an iOS or Android device a keyboard is a luxury most won't have. I'm happy to say that Epic Games has done a fantastic job translating the controls to mobile devices, and it all starts with movement.

Before we get to the basic controls, there is a fundamental decision to make when you start the game for the first time. You are asked "How do you want to fire your weapon?" Your choices are: Automatic Fire, Tap Anywhere, and Dedicated Button. For beginners, the Automatic Fire option is by far the best choice.

When in Automatic Fire mode the equipped weapon will fire on any enemy that crosses the aiming reticle. This is an important feature to help beginners get the hang of the game quicker. You must still aim the weapon, and your weapons won't fire if you are out of range of an enemy, but it's a huge bonus when you are surprised by an enemy in close quarters. Note that Sniper Rifles and Pickaxes are not affected by automatic fire. You must still shoot Sniper Rifles yourself.

FOLLOW Download.com on Twitter for all the latest app news.

To move on an iOS or Android device, you simply use your thumbs on either side of the screen, with your left thumb to move your character and your right thumb to aim your currently equipped weapon or look around. It sounds like it might be tough, but the active areas for each thumb/finger are large, so you don't have to hunt for them.

The other controls such as crouching, jumping or build mode are easy-to-touch buttons that appear on the right side of the screen (note that on iOS and Android devices, Fortnite must be played in landscape mode). Picking up items is as easy as touching the hand icon that appears above an item as you approach it, and opening doors is automatic in the mobile versions of Fortnite.

Explore the lobby

Once the game mode is selected and you've pressed the Play button, you quickly move to the lobby. This is an area where there are weapons and other goodies on the ground that can be picked up and played with, although they don't do any damage to your fellow players or objects. Still, it's a good opportunity to get a feel for the controls, move around and practice wielding the pickaxe, building something, or firing whatever weapons you can find. Don't get too comfortable in the lobby because your time here is very limited -- usually well under a minute.

Droppin' in

From the lobby you end up on the balloon-rigged Battle Bus far above the map. After a few seconds the jump window opens up, allowing you to jump out and skydive onto the map. Since you have 30 seconds to decide where to jump, take your time and wait for the battle bus to get as close to the area you want to go. Where exactly you choose to jump can have a profound impact on how the game goes for you, especially for your first couple of rounds. For example, if you jump toward a large town or group of buildings, there are going to be lots of cool weapons to pick up, but you can also be sure there are going to be plenty of other players in the vicinity when you drop. What does this mean? It means experienced players will spot you and eliminate you before have time to get your bearings. For your first time, it's best to take a cautious approach and land away from dense clusters of buildings so you have time to get a feel for things instead of immediately becoming fresh meat for the more experienced players to feast on.

fn-3.jpg

Once you've landed, take a look at the map by clicking (or touching) the mini-map in the upper left corner of your screen. Once opened, you'll see not only your current position but also a white circle over part of the map. This is where you are ultimately going to want to be, but more on that later.

fn-4.jpg

The area inside the white circle is your first destination once you are geared up.

Weaponize and gear up!

Gear and weapons are distributed randomly throughout the map. They are usually sitting out in the open, but you can be quite sure that exploring a building will yield some nice loot as well. In fact, buildings are often places that have a larger gear concentration. If you see a treasure chest, definitely make the effort to open it because you get not only multiple items but also Battle Stars, which ultimately allow you to achieve higher tiers in the game. This is not of primary concern when just starting out, but it's good to know if you happen to drop near a Treasure Chest.

fn-5.jpg

When starting out, it's a good idea to pick up any gear, weapons, or other loot you come across after you have your feet on the ground. There are hundreds of items and weapons out there, so be prepared to be overwhelmed at first. Also note that you have only six item/weapon slots, with the first being occupied by your rusty trusty pickaxe, making your total number of functional slots just five. For this reason, don't double up on weapons. For example, if you already have a hand gun, don't pick up another unless you need to. Certainly there are a few weapons that should be standard in your inventory -- unless you want to be crawling around begging for your life while an enemy stands over you. Here are a few of the most important items/weapons when getting started:

Fortnite weapons and gear

  • Sniper Rifle.
    snipperbetter.png
    A highly accurate weapon over a long range with a very low rate of fire. If you can hit an opponent cleanly, you can often kill them in one or two shots. If you can strike before your opponents are aware of your location, the sniper rifle is an excellent way to get a kill or two under your belt quickly. Note, however, that the term "sitting duck" comes to mind when you are sitting with a sniper rifle and looking down the scope -- anyone can come up behind you and...Boom!
  • Shield Potions.
    fnpotion.png
    You can pick up potions, which when consumed generate for you a percentage of your shield. When you first pick these up, down them immediately to build your shield as close to 100 percent as you can. If your shield is at 100 percent and you still have potions left, you have to decide whether you want to hold onto them and have them taking up space in your limited inventory. As a general rule, it's not a bad idea to keep shield potions on hand.
  • Shotguns.
    fnshotgun.png
    If you've never had the experience of rifling through a house looking for loot when you suddenly stumble upon an opponent at point-blank range, you are about to become familiar with this situation. For tight quarters, a shotgun is an amazing tool to blast the pants off an unsuspecting opponent you stumble across in close quarters. Aim, however, is key. If you miss with your first shotgun blast then you are likely to have an ornery enemy with an assault rifle ready to empty their clip into you.
  • Med kits and bandages.
    fnmedkit.png
    Believe me when I tell you that you are going to get spanked the first few times you play Fortnite, but having a few Med Kits and Bandages on hand can mean the difference between a quick death and a very quick death. When hit by enemy fire, you can replenish health by using these miracles of the digital realm. As with the Shield Potions, it's a good idea to keep some Bandages or Med Kits handy at all times to recover from damage.
  • Assault rifles.
    fnassault.png
    These babies -- also available in burst and scoped versions -- help you bridge the gap in your arsenal between up-close and long-range weapons. These common firearms are very powerful, have an extremely high rate of fire, and can take down an opponent in seconds when you've aimed them properly. As the saying goes, when you have an Assault Rifle you are either going to kick some butt or chew gum... and you're all out of gum.
  • Handguns.
    fnpistol.png
    These are OK in a pinch, but generally you are better off using best them as a last-resort, close-quarters weapon. After all, handguns are a bit tricky to aim over distances longer than a few yards. Especially when in the midst of a firefight! They come in pistol, revolver, suppressed pistol, and hand cannon models.
  • Mushrooms.
    mushroom.png
    Out in the wilderness in shaded areas you may find blue-glowing mushrooms. These are definitely worth picking up and eating (note that you cannot carry these, you have to eat them or not use them on the spot). Mushrooms replenish your shields.

You've got your gear and other loot. What's next?

You've managed to equip yourself with some nice weapons, some bandages and a few Shield Potions, and best of all you are not dead yet. So, what's next? Well, bring up your map and check out where you are in relation to the white circle, because sooner rather than later the storm is going to come and if you aren't inside that circle, things are going to get rather unpleasant.

The storm

The storm is a nasty meteorological phenomenon that will drain all of your health in seconds if you are caught inside. Basically, the storm starts outside the island and then shrinks toward the outside of the white circle on the map, so if the storm shrinks before you get inside the white circle, it's basically game over. It's a clever way that the folks at Epic Games keep the games moving and prevent camping. Everyone is constantly being flushed to an area at the eye of the storm where intimacy takes on a new meaning, usually at the end of an automatic weapon!

image12.jpg

The storm forms after a minute of gameplay, and then shrinks every three minutes thereafter. Where the storm shrinks to on the map is random, so it's important to have a look at your map to see where the next safe zone will be so that you can plan your path to the safe zone while keeping yourself safe from other players. Each successive safe zone is inside the current safe zone, so the distance you have to travel to reach safety also shortens each time the center of the storm tightens. Note that as the safe area in the storm shrinks, a good chunk of players will already have been eliminated from the game, but there are enough out there that the safe zones gathering areas (buildings, hilltops) are far more likely to have a nasty surprise as you approach them as safe zone shrinks.

img0137.jpg

Building

A key (and novel) aspect of Fortnite is the ability for players to build. Building may seem dull at first when compared to running and gunning like you're at the OK Corral, but ultimately successful players learn how to build for a number of different reasons, chief among them is building for defense.

screen-shot-2018-08-11-at-4-47-33-pm.jpg

Throwing up walls to stop enemy bullets is a smart move. Generally speaking one can build faster than enemies can destroy walls, but if you build with metal or brick the structures are more robust. Where do you get the metal, wood, and brick? You can pick some of it up as you move around, but generally you must use your pickaxe to hack away at buildings, trees, storage containers, and the like to obtain the building materials you need as the game progresses.

The second-best reason to build is to get places. If the storm is about to close in and you have to get over a mountain, just build a giant ramp to the top of the mountain (it only takes a few seconds to build one piece of a ramp) and go straight over it rather than running around its perimeter.

img0131.jpg

Fighting

Probably the best advice for beginners is that you don't have to fight in every fight. If you see a player in the distance, or if you hear a nearby fight with a number of players, it's often best just to avoid those fights and get ready for the first mano-a-mano showdown that will eventually confront you.

When you face off against the first enemy, hope that you see them first. This gives you an obvious edge, but you have to make that first shot (or shots) count, because if the opponent is skilled, they can turn on you and finish you off in seconds.

Staying calm is important. Don't panic. Take the time to aim properly and let the opponent have it. If you have an Assault Rifle with plenty of ammunition, feel free to fire away as you aim, because you never know: One of those extra bullets might mean the difference between victory and defeat!

It's a start

Those are the basics for getting started in Fortnite Mobile. You're ready to rock and/or roll. Let's hope it's more of the former than the latter. But either way, it's a pretty good bet that you're going to have a great time.

fn-fortniteeng-axe.jpg

Also see

Bart G. Farkas is an author and writer and has more than 100 print gaming strategy guides to his name. He has been writing about gaming and technology for over 20 years in numerous magazines. He has also written more than a dozen non-gaming technology books and writes the odd romance novel when so moved. Bart lives in Alberta, Canada.