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How to Play Fortnite on Your PC

How to Play Fortnite on Your PC

Jolene Dobbin
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A game that has over 125 million players and counting shouldn’t need an introduction [1]. Although this amazingly popular Epic Games release is technically still in beta, Fortnite Battle Royale has already become a touchstone of pop culture.

Within a year of its release, it has been embraced by everyone from grade-schoolers to college students to parents and beyond, and has taken the gaming community by storm. Here is a brief primer of Fortnite Battle Royale as well as how to play it.

What is Fortnite?

Fortnite is an online game that was first released in 2017 as two different game modes.

The first was Fortnite: Save the World, which is player-versus-environment (PvE) and the second was Fortnite Battle Royale, a free-to-play, last-person-standing, player-versus-player (PvP) game in which up to 100 players fight within increasingly smaller spaces. This article is specifically about Fortnite Battle Royale.

What’s the deal with the name?

The PvE game of Fortnite: Save the World lasts for two weeks (also known as a fortnight) and you need to build forts to defend yourself. Hence: Fortnite Battle Royale.

What’s a Battle Royale anyway?

Fortnite Battle Royale is part of a video game category of, well, “battle royale” games. This genre combines the essential parts of survival games with “last person standing” gaming elements. These types of games lend themselves to attracting massive numbers of players, and Fortnite is indeed a massively multiplayer online game (MMO).

Battle royale games involve a large number of players who start with only a few gameplay items, then search for weapons and armor, eliminate opponents, avoid being trapped outside of a shrinking "safe area," and compete to win.

The goal of Fortnite Battle Royale

Fortnite Battle Royale is for up to 100 players: you can play solo, in a duo, or in squads of up to four players. The goal is to be the last player or group standing. To accomplish this, you need to eliminate other players or avoid them while staying within a safe zone that is constantly shrinking because of an incoming storm. To learn strategies from the top gamers, check out our article on the best Fortnite players in the world.

Installing and launching Fortnite Battle Royale on your PC

Head over to the Fortnite site and click “Play Free Now” to install and then launch the game, selecting “Battle Royale” from the left-hand menu. You’ll find yourself in the lobby. Once you’re there, select your game mode.

How to select your game mode

In the lower right-hand corner of the screen, you’ll see the game mode set to a default of “Solo.”

Click this to choose from six game modes:

Solo - Battle it out on your own
Duos - Pair up with a friend
Squads - Choose two to three others
50v50 - Join one of two teams of 50 each (you’ll find extra loot here but more lethal storms)
Playground - Practice with weapons in this low-pressure environment and build massive structures
Steady storm - Be prepared for relentless storms

How to play Fortnite with friends

In any of the game modes besides solo, you can either have the game fill up with random people, or play with a friend. To do the latter, click on the “Party Finder” icon in the lobby. You can also click the “Friend Link” in the upper-right to copy the link and email to your friends.

Fortnite Battle Royale has true cross-platform functionality; it has been released on Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android devices - so you can play with your friends no matter which device or platform they’re on.

What is the Battle Pass?

In the lobby you’ll see a few tabs across the top and one of them is “Battle Pass.” This is where players gain rewards for experience and completing specific in-game challenges during the course of a Fortnite Battle Royale season.

At the beginning of every Battle Royale season, every player can access the Battle Pass.

Seasons of Fortnite Battle Royale

Each Battle Pass is tied to an in-game season, which lasts 10 weeks. When you buy a Battle Pass, you have until the end of the season to unlock everything it has to offer.

Battle Pass Season 5 began on June 12th and ends September 24th, 2018.

Is Fortnite free?

You can download Fortnite Battle Royale for free. But in order to access certain items and experiences, you’ll need to either earn them or buy them directly from the “Store” using in-game currency called V-Bucks. For example, 10,000 V-Bucks costs $9.99.

Dancing, or emoting, your way to victory

Some of those experiences include the awesome dances, called “emotes,” that you’ve no doubt seen all of the cool kids doing at some point over the last few months.

After you’ve eliminated an opponent, you can choose your dance “emote” to rub it in the loser’s face…or if you just wanna dance.

Popular emotes include the “Floss” (aka “The Backpack Kid’s dance”), the “Electro Shuffle,” and arguably the most popular “Orange Justice.” There are dozens of emotes, and more are added regularly in addition to skins, gliders, and other cosmetic rewards.

Playing the game

60 seconds of practice

Click “play” once you’re ready, and you’ll find yourself in the holding area called “Spawn Island.” You can practice here by picking up weapons, ammunition, and building materials, but you’ll only have about a minute while the game fills up with 99 other players. Plus, you won’t be able to take those things with you into the game itself.

Flying on the Battle Bus

After spending about a minute in the holding area, you’ll automatically be plopped onto the “Battle Bus,” which flies in the air and transports you across the game’s map. It will let you know when you can jump down into the game (to jump, use the spacebar on your keyboard). Type space again to use your hang glider to slow your descent.

On the ground

When you land, it’s a mad dash to find weapons and resources, while avoiding being killed by other players who have found some before you.

If you are eliminated, you have the option to continue watching the game from the perspective of the person who eliminated you from the game, or to just quit out and start again.

Doing the former affords you the ability to learn about what makes a great player - because you’ll eventually end up riding the coattails of the victor.

Staying out of the storm

Once you’ve been playing for a few minutes, you’ll see an indicator pop up to let you know that the storm is shrinking. Press “M” to get to your map and find a safe area, which is everything inside the circle. You can go through the storm, but doing so will affect your health and eventually eliminate you from the game.

The circle then gets increasingly smaller, forcing remaining players into smaller and smaller spaces, until one player is left standing. If that player is you, you’ll have reached a Victory Royale!

Here are a few Fortnite PC keyboard and mouse controls to help you get started:

Run/sprint - Shift
Jump - Spacebar/Up arrow
Use/interact with objects/pick up items - E
Crouch down - Ctrl
Fire - Left mouse button
Reload - R
Aim down sight - Right mouse button
Change weapons - Scroll wheel on mouse
Building slots - F1 through F4
Rotate building structure - R
Change building material - Right mouse button
Map - M

Some Fortnite in-game mechanics

Keep an eye out for chests, which contain loot that you’ll need, as well as ammunition and medical supplies like first aid kits, bandages, and shield potions. To protect yourself against and hide from opponents who are attacking you, you’ll need to build defensive structures quickly.

Building fortifications in Fortnite

There are three types of building supplies: wood, brick, and metal. Use your pickaxe (the only weapon that you start out with) on any structures that you see (trees, houses, rocks, etc.) to harvest the wood and to knock down walls of existing structures. Since building materials don’t take up space in your backpack, you can grab as much as you like.

Use your building supplies to build structures, such as walls, ceilings, stairs, ramps, and doors. Access your blueprint through one of your building slots (F1 - F4, see above), and you’ll see a projected image of what your structure will look like. Set it down in place by pressing the left mouse button.

Gaming accessories

If you really want to immerse yourself in the Fortnite world, and especially if you’re playing with others in a squad, you may want to invest in a good gaming headset.

A headset will help you hear in-game sounds like an enemy approaching, or the sound of gunfire, more easily. And the ability to communicate clearly with your team may make all the difference in how you play (and even win) the game.

Similarly, you can increase your gameplay and tactical advantages with the right gaming keyboard, gaming mouse, and gaming controller.

System requirements for Fortnite

Here are both the recommended and minimum PC specs for Fortnite Battle Royale. Epic Games may be updating these in the future, so be sure to check in with them periodically [2].

Recommended PC requirements include:

Nvidia GTX 660 or AMD Radeon HD 7870 equivalent DX11 GPU
2GB VRAM
Core i5 2.8 Ghz
8GB RAM
Windows 7/8/10 64-bit + Mac OSX Sierra (10.13.6+)

Minimum PC requirements include:

Intel HD 4000 on PC or Intel Iris Pro 5200 on Mac
Core i3 2.4 Ghz
4GB RAM
Windows 7/8/10 64-bit + Mac OSX Sierra (10.12.6+)
Mac computers must support Metal API

If you’re looking to either upgrade your current system, buy a new one, or even build your own gaming computer, check out these gaming PC options.

[1] Epic Games, https://www.epicgames.com/fortnite/en-US/news/announcing-2018-2019-fortnite-competitive-season

[2] Epic Games, https://www.epicgames.com/fortnite/en-US/faq

About the Author: Jolene Dobbin is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Jolene is an East Coast-based writer with experience creating strategic messaging, marketing, and sales content for companies in the high-tech industry.

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