Five Fortnite Tips I Wish I Had Known

We thought we were prepared for the storm until it got ugly. In the distance, we heard the bellowing roar announcing the arrival of a colossal mutant zombie known best as a Smasher. Down to the last magazines of ammunition and with weapons looking the worse for wear, there was little more than harsh language between the behemoth and the hastily boarded up wall around our objective. Epic Games’ Fortnite is a clever mix of quick thinking, base defense building, exploration and all out combat. Although it can be played alone it is geared towards play with a full team of four players, and the harder the missions the more extreme the challenge. Thankfully the game shines best when the zombies are at their worst.

Fortnite is an “early release” title but plays as well as most released games, although it is not without a few bugs, performance issues and potential imbalances that may be changed later. Below are a few things I learned “the hard way” that I wish I had known when I started.

Green is Good

We’ve been taught in other games with similar loot rarity coloring that grey and green items are generally trash if you have access to better. Although this is technically true in Fortnite, green weapons and traps are particularly useful in that they require only common materials found in abundance on any map. Given that all items break fairly quickly and traps are one time use in every mission outside the storm shield base, knowing when a green weapon is good enough becomes critical to managing rare crafting resources you might not find every mission.

To be more specific, it is unlikely you will find enough “rotating gizmos” to replace 2-3 Epic weapons as fast as those weapons wear out. In some cases I would say this is true of even one Epic weapon – which could require three of these gizmos each, enough for three Rare weapons that are just as durable and almost as powerful. It is business as usual to be completely out of these key materials, and probably when you need them most.

The bottom line is don’t discard, recycle or otherwise lose the only green schematics you have for key traps and weapons. I’d keep at least one for each class of weapon and level up that schematic to make it closer to par with a rare blue of the same sort.

Examine Apparent Duplicate Rare Items and Heroes Twice

Any two items of the same rarity might look identical if you examine only the base stats, but in almost every case the optional stat bonuses for leveling up that schema will be randomly different. This is true to some degree for survivors, defenders and even Heroes. Before cashing in that hero for quick XP or collection book advancement, check the perks, support squad bonuses, and other abilities they would get if you leveled them up. Traps especially have different abilities when leveled that could make a huge difference, like in the case of passive floor and wall spikes.

For heroes, there are both support squad roles they can take and expedition seats to fill even if they aren’t among your favorite to play. In the case of the latter, expeditions become an important source of crafting materials and survivors later but require leveled up heroes – ones you spend XP on but can’t actually play while they are out on expedition. It makes sense to keep a deep bench of talent rather than retiring heroes for this reason alone.

Blue Rare Schematics may be better than Epic ones

Another way that rare crafting materials shapes the economy of the game is when you compare a Blue weapon and a Purple of the same type, and consider the cost of keeping your favorite weapon replaced once it is worn out. In almost every case I have examined, a Rare Blue schematic leveled to 10 is much better than a level 1 Epic Purple, but may cost half or a third the key materials. Sure, the level 10 Epic Purple weapon would do more damage but unless the perks included dramatic reduction in wear and tear, you aren’t getting “three times the weapon” out of it. The comparison gets even more comical if the Rare weapon has the wear rate reduction perk instead, also at the cheaper cost of materials. That blue sword will be more than just “good enough” long after the less durable purple one breaks.

Use the Outlander Pathfinder to gather.

All heroes do almost every task equally as well as one another – specially at the start of the game, with a few exceptions. Soldiers do get bonuses to ranged weapons, and in some cases stacking bonuses to a specific type of ranged weapon, but no one can hold a candle to the gathering mastery of a Outlander Pathfinder. Once you have “focused acquisition”  and “in the zone” perks, along with the ability to create Loot Llama supply drops the Outlander is significantly faster and better at locating and gathering treasure. The difference isn’t slight, even the 6% chance to find double loot is noticeable over the course of a single mission. Level up your Outlander further and you can see loot through walls and floors and even how rare it is. Given how often you will need to restock on materials needed to make ammunition and traps, the speed boost and faster pick-ax of “in the zone” is a welcome ability indeed.

Never overbuild.

Traps and any section of building count towards the build limit objective in almost every mission in the game. The limit and associated penalty for overbuilding is shared by the whole team, and is the highest weight penalty for end of mission scoring next to complete mission failure. Very few other objectives are classified as “gold” objectives, and most are ones you obtain through exceptional effort (rescued all bonus survivors, etc), rather than one you “lose” by being careless. Watch the build limit when you are setting up defenses or using stairs to reach loot and survivors. I try to stay under half the limit just in case zombies create an unexpected route to the objective or additional traps / healing pads have to be made in the heat of a fight. If your teammate looks like they are working on a masterpiece of excess mats, hold off on putting down floors or traps in hopes that they stop before they hit the limit.

Another way to help reduce build time and stay under the limit is to use perimeter walls sparingly – imagine funneling the zombies into a few open sections of the outer fence rather than trying to build a solid barrier. Save your fortress construction passion and skill for the more critical objective walls. Perimeter knee-high walls are easy to shoot over and will usually direct zombie traffic to a different (or less defended) entrance point, which is a great place to put a few key traps without needlessly carpeting the entire area in spikes.

 

Fortnite is a lot of fun, and is quite addictive. The early missions do a good job of introducing key mission concepts like building under a time limit to precise specifications under pressure, customizing structures and dealing with attacks from multiple directions, as well as effective exploration of an area for loot and survivors. The harder missions will test your teamwork, but these are also the best parts of the game. I hope the above tips make a difference in helping to keep you in gear when the hordes descend on your base, and enough ammunition left to drop that Husk Smasher. I hope to see you online!

Evolve: Seven Monster Tips for Defend

image credit: Turtle Rock / 2K / incgamers.com
image credit: Turtle Rock / 2K / incgamers.com

Morning, minions. It’s moving day for the hunters, and we are going to throw them a going away party. Whether you face it on day five of Evacuation or randomly in quick match, Defend mode as the monster is one of the hardest matches to win against a good team of hunters. Not only is it the only mode in which slaying all of the hunters counts for no gains – they return from the drop ship at full life almost immediately – the match timer counts down to a hunter win if the monster does not completely destroy both stage generators and the power source before the timer expires. It gets worse. Despite starting the match at stage three, and having a near continuous stream of Goliath minion pairs to help, the generators are defended by both the hunters, bottleneck terrain and armored turrets.  Destroy a generator, and some time is added back to the clock. Here are seven tips for monster players hoping to crush the hunters and destroy the evacuation ship in one of the funnest, most difficult map modes in Evolve.

Turret syndrome

This might sound obvious, but I’ll dare oversimplify the match with the first do-or-die tip. Prioritize the turrets. Your minions are quite capable of carrying the match all the way to the final power source with little assistance but stand no chance against the turrets and will not attack them. You and your minions will face high, sustained damage as long as they are standing – so when the match starts, eat as quickly as possible to shield up and try to take out at least one turret along side the first set of minions. Flee ideally before your shield is depleted and feed again, you are unlikely to regenerate any real health via food buffs in Defend. Return as soon as possible to finish wrecking turrets, and your second and third wave minions will do a lot more damage to the generator before getting killed.

Expect maximum hunter force – a good team will take huge risks to make stage one generator as hard for the monster as possible. As this point they can afford multiple full wipes and still pull out a win later if they damage the monster enough, prevent it from feeding, trap it away from the turrets, or any other super nasty harassment the hunters can dream up.

Follow your nose

If you haven’t developed a habit of continually smelling as the monster, now is a good time to start. Smell as you eat, smell as you change facing, smell before you attack, smell before you retreat. Smell everything. Otherwise you’ll never spot harpoons, most mines, and potential snacks hunters left for you. If you haven’t seen what an overlooked harpoon and a few cleverly hidden mines in your escape route can do to a monster that needs to get away fast, I’ll give you a hint – it’s not pretty and can completely blow the match.

If you are just out of line of sight but within smell range of the generator as you feed to get shields back, you can safely spot the hunters and keep an eye (or nose) on your minions and have a pretty good idea of how the fight is going. Hurt minions will usually turn on the hunters before they die, which can be an excellent opportunity to quickly incapacitate a vulnerable hunter.

Know when not to kill a downed hunter

During the fight keep in mind an incapacitated hunter is more or less out of the fight minus his or her sidearm. Most of time time this will also take a second hunter partially out of the fight to revive the down hunter unless they have Daisy, but killing a downed hunter can take more time than you want to spend if they have someone shielding or healing them or you are taking fire in the back. A dead hunter might make a good quick snack in a pinch, but is also back in the fight startlingly soon. Consider just incapacitating them unless you know they will go down quick and you’ll be able to eat them without being shot at.

Know your opponents hand

No matter if you are facing the classic four hunters or a mix of higher tier hunters, be familiar before the match with how their abilities can be used to ruin your day in Defend. Assault may have mines (super effective), long range toxic grenades, or potent burst damage. Ditto your other three hunter types, as each has similar abilities that can stack slow effects at range, trap or defend a location, or cause immense burst damage – usually in that order. The play area is very small compared to normal hunt maps, and with basically no fear of death any number of hunters can break off generator defense to chase you when you try to feed – even just slowing you down or pelting you when you feed is enough to keep the fight in their favor. Beware clever cat and mouse tactics. If you get distracted from feeding, turrets or generators for very long and it won’t matter how many times you kill the hunters – when the time is up they win.

Listen for audible callouts (or turn on subtitles) for when the hunters use key abilities. You’ll hear “switching to mines!” before Markov places a mine, which at close quarters gives you only seconds to avoid or destroy the mine. The same is true for most hunter special abilities.

Watch the clock

Keep a close eye on both your minion wave spawn timer (it also has an audible sound) as well as the match timer. If or when the match timer reaches two minutes, you need to know how much health the generator or power source has left and move to assist your minions. Use the minion timer to gauge if you should attack the generator yourself or wait for a wave. If you time it right, you can destroy the generator with the minions and have them survive to charge the next target – even though they are likely to die almost immediately to turret fire they might do a little damage if they weren’t too badly injured.

At the power source, feed and do your best to dismantle the front turrets first without getting overwhelmed, and feed as often as possible until the final two minute warning. At that point you’ll need to have also destroyed the rear turrets and be ready to engage the power source with everything you have left and push for the hard earned win.

In this last phase food is dangerously close to the fighting area, making it easier for hunters to deny your snacks when you flee. While the turrets are still up they can easily kill your minions and have a lot time to focus on you before the next minions spawn. This is where a lot of matches end in a hunter win and if you took a lot of health damage in earlier risky fights, it will be that much harder to survive.

Don’t die to wildlife

I see you laughing, but the “food” in Defend usually bites back. Those annoying (and yummy) electrified tentacle faced raptor critters can take a huge chunk out of your shields if you aren’t on your A game and are usually in pairs. This can cost you almost all of the shield you hoped to get by eating them – a costly delay when seconds matter and hunters might be bearing down on you. For the same reason, if you have no shields choose a less violent food first when possible or at least be very sure to get a clean kill when you engage them.

The giant sloth beasts or other aggressive wildlife may actually help you if you pass them up as a snack without enraging them. Better they attack a pursuing hunter than you, and if you’re super lucky the hunter’s team is distracted and you get a free incapacitated hunter.

Win day four in Evacuation

Days one through three of evacuation are a wash once day four arrives. As a monster this is your semifinal, lose this and on day five the turrets get extra armor. What started as an uphill fight now borders on impossible, as the turrets no longer crumble after a few hits and will make trapjaw food out of your minions. Know your map modes, and if you luck out you might get Nest on day four for a relatively good shot at a win. Succeed, and instead of turrets with extra armor, your minions have extra armor. Now, it’s a party. Time to evict some hunter scum!

See you on Shear.