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Want to win a game of Fortnite: Battle Royale? Try building a ‘stairway to heaven’

Fortnite players are learning how to improvise

A goof on the classic Fortnite hero including the “No Stairway To Heaven” sign from Wayne’s World. Charlie Hall/Polygon
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Fortnite’s free-to-play game mode, Fortnite: Battle Royale, differentiates itself in the survival shooter space by letting players build what they want. As the name implies, a good strategy is simply to build a big old fort and hunker down. But players have taken things a little further than that.

Allow me to introduce you to the “stairway to heaven” strategy.

A survival shooter, like any tactical shooter, is all about line of sight. If someone sees you, they can shoot at you. If they can shoot at you, they can fix you in place and eventually flank you. Generally it’s a pretty bad idea to move to the highest point on the map and stick your head out of cover. You can be seen from miles around, and you’re just asking to get your head blown off.

But, in Fortnite: Battle Royale, players carry around a nearly bottomless backpack filled of improvised cover. They can even use wood, brick and steel to build pathways over the top of the map. With the so-called “stairway to heaven” strategy, you just build a ramp to get as high as you can get, then build a bridge toward the center of the map. Snipe the enemies below and claim your prize.

The trick is building the stairway safely, and layering it in such a way that players can’t knock it out from under you. Today’s announcement that a minigun is being added to the game may, in some small way, be a reaction to players using the stairway strategy. It’s designed to put a lot of lead downrange in a very short amount of time, and looks like just the thing for stopping stairways when they get out of hand.

And, for those worried that Battle Royale was a bit too similar to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds when it came out, this is evidence that the community of players inside understand the difference. Look for more improvisation to come as the game grows in popularity.

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