Gameplay Fortnite Basics – Guide for Beginners

If you’ve never played Fortnite before, or you played and died instantly, this article is a great place to start. I’ve covered the gameplay basics here and kept things as simple as possible. I’ve also tried to organise this article so that sections are in the order you’d encounter them in game. When you get introduced to a new board game and somebody says ‘play through it once and you’ll pick it up as you go along’, this is sort of what I’m going for here. Read this and play a few games, then come back and read the more in depth guides.

Starting a Game

Load up Fortnite. Eventually you’ll reach a screen that asks you to pick either Save the World or Battle Royale. Choose Battle Royale and you’ll go through to a lobby.

Fortnite Battle Royale

From here you can choose which game mode you’d like to play. I’ll explain the differences in more detail later but you can choose from Solo, Duo or Squad. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you choose Solo.

Fortnite Battle Royale Lobby

Hit ready and the matchmaking process will begin. Eventually you’ll see the Battle Royale loading screen, you’re almost there…

fortnite gameplay basics

Spawn Island

I call it the spawn island, others call it the start island. It doesn’t matter a great deal but you will start every single game on this island. While on this island the game will wait for other players to join (up to 100 players in total).

During this time, you’re free to familiarise yourself with the controls for gameplay basics; moving, harvesting, shooting and building. Think of it as a safe zone, you can’t get hurt or die here – so don’t worry about the other players running around shooting guns.

Your harvesting tool won’t destroy objects and collect materials in this area, so we’ll come back to that in a little while. Because you can’t harvest materials here, you can only build structures if you pick up materials. If this sounds a little confusing, don’t worry too much – I cover harvesting and building below.

There will be guns and ammunition scattered around, which you are free to pick up and practice with.

Don’t get too comfortable, once the game is full a short timer will begin a countdown…

Battle Bus

Before you know it, you’re aboard the battle bus, along with up to 99 other players. The battle bus floats through the sky above the map in a straight line. After a short delay, you’ll be able to ‘jump’ from the bus at any time and begin skydiving towards the map.

You’ll see another timer counting down, more or less until you reach the edge of the island. If you don’t jump from the bus by the time the countdown reaches zero, you’ll automatically jump.

Aim yourself towards an area of the map, pushing your left stick forward will tilt your character so that you descend faster. When you get close enough to the ground, your glider will automatically deploy to ensure a safe landing. You can of course deploy it earlier if you’d like to glide further away from the path of the bus.

Fortnite Bus

Skydiving in Fortnite Battle Royale

Eventually you’ll develop your own favourite places to go. To start with, aim for a building or point of interest. Remember that the bigger the point of interest, the more popular it is likely to be with other players.

Loot & Harvest

Harvesting Metal in Fortnite

When you land, you’ll only have a harvesting tool (pick axe) with you. This can be used as a weapon but is generally a last resort as it is much less effective than guns. You can use it to destroy most objects on the map, such as buildings and trees. Doing this will ‘harvest’ either wood, brick or metal for you. I’ll come back to these in the build section.

Gameplay Basics Looting

Your priority when you land should be to find weapons so that you can defend yourself. You can find weapons in two main ways when you first land. Some will be simply out in the open, glowing guns and ammunition that you can pick up. Others are concealed within glowing chests that contain multiple items. Chests are your best chance of finding good weapons early in the game. You can also find ammo boxes that will yield extra bullets or rounds.


Another of the gameplay basics for a last man standing game will always be fighting. Fortnite is a third person shooter game, so if you have experience with those you’re off to a great start. The majority of the weapons you can use to eliminate enemies are guns, which we will cover in more detail in our weapons guides.

One of the best aspects of Battle Royale is how tactically varied it can be. You can play aggressively, defensively or even try and get a high finish just by using stealth tactics.


Building is another key thing you should learn about the gameplay basics of Battle Royale. While countless buildings and structures already exist on the map, building new structures can help you in many ways. Whether you’re building to access a hard to reach area, protect yourself from gunfire or lay claim to territory, the importance of building can’t be understated.

Building in Fortnite Battle Royale

I briefly mentioned already that you can gather materials using your harvesting tool, these are what you build with. Using these materials, you can build four basic structures; Wall, Floor, Stairs and Roof. Which material you use to build them from affects their build time and how much damage they can take. Each piece can be rotated as well as edited to change their structure slightly, I will go into more detail on this in the full guide. Combining these basic structures gives you endless possibilities. Need a stairway to reach the top of a mountain? Want to build a fort that you can attack enemies from?


As it stands, the map is reasonably large, so you might be wondering how long a game takes. From my experience, most are finished in under 23 minutes. The reason for this is the storm! Little is explained about the storm, only that if you stand in it you will lose health and that the eye (safe zone) shrinks over time. This forces all remaining players together, so not everybody can just camp for 20 minutes. Understanding this is key to grasping the gameplay basics, you’ll start to notice patterns and will be able to think ahead.

fortnite basics guide

Fortnite Storm

If you take a look at the screenshots, you’ll see a pink/purple area, this is the storm. At the start of the game it isn’t there, so you can safely land anywhere. If two or more players survive long enough, the eye of the storm will eventually shrink so small that you cannot stand in it.

Fortnite Storm Map

A short while after you first land, the map will show a fairly large circle, this is where the eye will be. You’ll also see a timer which counts down until the eye starts shrinking. When this countdown finishes, another one will start that counts down until the storm reaches the eye. This cycle repeats until the game is over. In the screenshot above you can see I am outside the eye, so the map displays a white line that shows the shortest distance to the safe zone. Depending on your distance from the eye, it can take time to get there, especially if you’re trying to avoid enemies, so leave plenty of time.

End Game

Now I’ve covered the gameplay basics, I just want to talk about the end game. Considering there are up to 99 other players in a game with you, it’s very likely that you’re going to see the screen below quite often.

That’s a second place finish, but there’ll be other times where you’ll finish on a much higher number. Especially if you’re getting used to the game. Don’t beat yourself up about this, it takes time to perfect your strategies.

If you make it into the final 10 players, the storm will probably be quite small already. At this point most players decide to build their own forts and attack each other from there. At this point, most players will have found a decent amount of loot and materials, especially if they have already killed other players.

Victory Royale

With some practice you’ll eventually win a game and see the victory royale message. It might even be luck that wins you the game, in the screenshot above I won because the other player stood in the storm a moment too long. Since then I’ve won many more times, more through skill than luck now. It just takes practice and time.