A beginner’s guide to building in Fortnite

Fortnite is an incredible game which has captivated millions of players since its release in 2017. To master Fortnite and win your first victory royale, you will need to have decent aim along with excellent resource management, positional strategy, and—most importantly—building skills.

Building is the foundation of Fortnite’s strategic gameplay and the feature of the game that sets it apart from all else. Anyone who has watched professional Fortnite tournaments understands the full potential of building once mastered. Everyone has to start somewhere, however, so let’s start with the basics.

Here is a beginner’s guide to building in Fortnite.

The uses of building

There are two primary uses of building in Fortnite: fortifications and movement.

The first and most important aspect of building is creating fortifications during fights. When an enemy attacks you in the open, you always have access to cover so long as you have resources. At the start of almost every fight, the first thing you should do is start building walls to keep you safe. You can start with a simple 1×1 box with a ramp which allows you to peek over the top of your box. Even a wall with stairs will do for some fights. You just want some type of fortification that can help block enemy fire.

If enemies shoot your builds, you can replace them instantly by having your build menu out and holding down your place button. If you have enough resources, you will instantly replace any structure that is destroyed. Since Fortnite is a battle royale game, players must loot their ammo and weapons, so a lot of enemies you face may not be ideally equipped. By weathering a storm of bullets via calmly replacing builds, you may exhaust their means and give yourself a big upper hand in the fight, or they might just give up all together and move on. Obstinately clinging to a 1×1 shelter is a surprisingly effective strategy for staying alive in Fortnite—even in some professional games.

The second main use of building is locomotion. When moving around the map, your ramps and platforms are useful tools which let you access new areas and survive the treacherous map. You can use ramps to move over steep hills and use platforms to bridge rivers. Instead of moving inside a building to higher floors, you can scale to higher stories from the outside of the building. You can even save yourself from a nasty fall with a well-placed floor as you slide off a cliff. Learning to integrate building into your movement around the map will improve your overall outlook and allow you to traverse the map more effectively.

Best building controls

By default, the mouse and keyboard controls are a little bit difficult to use, since they involve hitting F1-F5 to switch between building options. These keys are a bit far away from the WASD keys, which can be somewhat uncomfortable and imprecise. As a result, many Fortnite PC players prefer to rebind their building controls. When rebinding your building controls, consider putting your wall and stair options close together, since you will often be switching between those two often. 

It doesn’t technically matter what buttons you ultimately choose for your bindings. Professional players differ wildly in their preferences. As long as you are comfortable with whatever you select and it doesn’t cause too much hand strain, you are probably good.

To get started, you can try putting walls on C and floors on E with stairs on Q. This reasonably standard set up will place all the building controls quite close to your normal hand position, making them easy to access. Alternatively, you could bind some controls onto buttons on your mouse. Whatever you choose, it’s wise to switch up your controls early so you don’t have to relearn your muscle memory later.

This advice goes for console players as well. If you are playing with a controller, you can still optimize your settings to perform at your very best.

Building Mechanics

The three types of materials

Building can be done with three types of material: wood, brick, and metal. These materials can be found in chests and gathered by using your pickaxe on the various objects in the world. Nearly every object in the game is destructible, and will produce one of these three materials.

The different materials features the following statistics:

  • Wood builds have a starting health of 90 with a max health of 150, and can fully build in four seconds.
  • Stone builds have a starting health of 99 with a max health of 300, and can fully heal in 11.5 seconds.
  • Metal builds have a 110 starting health with a max health of 500, and takes nearly 25 seconds to build.

Of these three resources, wood is considered the best during the heat of a fight. Although it has the lowest health, it builds the quickest which is actually more important in a build fight. Wood is also the most available resource, with a lot of furniture, bushes, fences, and trees all readily available for collecting.

If you have a lot of time and are in a location you want to hold for a while, however, metal and stone can definitely come in handy. With that hefty 500 total health, a fully completed metal building will cost the enemy a fair bit of bullets to get through. Ideally, you’ll want to carry some of all of the different types of resources.

Editing your builds

Editing is another mechanic which you should be aware of. You can edit your various walls, platforms, and ramps in different ways. You can edit builds before you place them, or you can edit builds that have already been placed by looking at a structure and pressing the edit button. Keep in mind—editing a structure will force the structure to rebuild itself.

Edits let you put windows, gaps, and doors into walls. You can edit ramps into narrower stairs or spiraling stairs. Roofs can be even turned into ramps, which can sometimes be more useful since you can edit them into something other than a staircase. There are a ton of useful edits to discover and utilize. 

The various edits available in the game allow you to build more customized structures or quickly escape a structure when you are in a bind. You can also learn to use these edits offensively. For example, one aggressive tactic when fighting someone who is sheltering in a 1×1 box is to use your pickaxe to destroy their wall, and then quickly replace their wall with your own wall. You can then edit an opening in the wall, and fire through. Since you control the edit, you have a big upper hand in that situation. This is kind of an advanced maneuver, but it speaks to the usefulness of editing.

Three fundamental building techniques

1×1 Box (Beginner)

Gif via Aaron Alford

The 1×1 box is perhaps the most foundational build in all of Fortnite, and it is also one of the easiest to accomplish. To make a 1×1 pill box, place a ramp in front of you. Run onto the ramp, and then place four walls around it by holding the wall place button and quickly spinning in a circle. Once you have your box, you can either leave it open on top, allowing you to peek at enemies, or you can place a floor and roof on top to box yourself in completely. Both versions of this build are useful situationally.

Ramp Rush (beginner/intermediate)

GIF via Aaron Alford

The goal of a ramp rush is to quickly and aggressively build a fortified ramp that will allow you to push a high-ground position without fear of someone simply shooting out your build. To pull off a basic ramp rush, you want to place a ramp, then a wall to protect that ramp, then play another ramp to go higher, with a wall to protect that ramp. When you use this every other wall and ramp pattern, you lower the risk that you will be shot down because enemies now have to shoot through two layers of walls instead of a single one.

A more advanced version of the ramp rush adds floors with each level as well. There is even an expert version of the ramp rush which adds a whole extra lower ramp, making your build essentially impossible to take down in a timely fashion. For now, start by mastering the basics of alternating ramp and wall builds.

The Circular 90 (intermediate)

GIF via Aaron Alford

One common build you might hear about in Fortnite circles is the “90”. This is a type of build that allows you to quickly ascend and build a vertical facing tower very quickly. There are a couple ways to do this 90 motion, but they all accomplish the same basic build. One of the most common types of this build is the circular 90.

To accomplish the circular 90, place a ramp, then put a wall at the top of it and a second wall to the right of you connected to the original wall at a 90-degree angle. Next you want to build a floor, then jump in the air and place a ramp below you. You can then repeat that process at the top of this ramp, to quickly build a tower upward. Although this may seem technical at first, with a little practice you can internalize the muscle memory for this motion, allowing you to seamlessly build defensive fortifications and take high ground very quickly.

Building is a difficult but rewarding skill to master in Fortnite. If you’re a better builder than your opponent, you will consistently have the upper hand in your fights, which will ultimately translate to more victory royales.

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