In Fortnite: Battle Royale, I am a poor marksman. If I’m in a one-on-one shooting encounter with another player, I figure there’s at least a 70 percent chance I’ll be killed. There’s maybe a 20 percent chance I’ll escape, and only a 10 percent chance I’ll defeat my opponent. That’s not good.
On the other hand, if I can sneak up on someone, or surprise them from a decent hidey hole, my chances increase significantly. I enjoy stealth games, and I’m patient, so that’s how I play.
I know that many people play Fortnite as a rapid movement, run-and-gun or as a tactical building game (and that’s fine), but I approach it as a world of stealth. And I love it.
In my time with the game, I’ve picked up the odd Victory Royale, but my aims are really about getting in among the top five, or just avoiding other players. Generally, I can get into the top 10, so long as I stick to the plan and resist the urge to go mooching around in high-friction loot zones.
My strategy is simple. I stay the hell away from everyone else. I play like John Rambo in First Blood, losing myself in the wilderness, moving slowly, only hurrying when it’s absolutely necessary.
I’m usually the last off the bus, floating above the world with a couple of AFKers. Sometimes I’m already stealthing, pretending to be AFK just to make sure they don’t decide to approach the same loot spots as me (they are often doing the same, I think, or they just get back to their keyboards in time to make a dive).
Either way, I look for lonesome houses, a long way away from the bus-path. The map is designed with usefully well-covered places at the margins, like Moisty Mire, Wailing Woods and Snobby Shores. This gives me plenty of time to tool up with weapons and resources. I don’t want to be chopping wood once the storm closes in, so this is a busy time. The last thing I want is to be wasting my early-game moments dodging some other player.
If I hear another person in my area, I’ll move on. In these empty spaces, there’s plenty to go around. Most people are cramming into the popular spots like Tilted Towers, murdering each other. By the time I start moving towards the storm borders, half of them are usually dead already. I work hard to make sure nobody is behind me, closing down my arc of peril as far as possible.
It’s true that I don’t usually find great weapons, and I am missing out on augmenting my pack with the weapons of defeated enemies. But since I’m not planning on doing much shooting, this is hardly an issue. I travel light, and I load up on med kits and shield potions.
I move from tree to tree, bush to bush, hugging hills. If my line of approach crosses a built-up area or Loot Lake, I swing around. I live at the margins, making use of singular huts or out-of-the-way loot chests. If I’m close to the storm’s edge, and I have time to spare, I’ll wait it out. I don’t want to be too far inside the circle.
At this point, I’ll start to encounter other people. Usually, there are about 20 or 30 people left by the time I see anyone. Sometimes, it’ll be another camper, waiting around for the late-game, hiding. Sometimes, it’ll be a hunter, skilled at taking out stealth players, waiting for us to come in with the storm, monitoring favored passes and routes.
This is the time to move very carefully, making use of cover. If I’m attacked by a sniper from afar, I’ll throw up a wall and maybe retreat. Some of these guys don’t like to come out and chase, especially if the storm is closing in.
As the circle closes, I eventually find myself in the last ten players. This is a crucial time, and the most thrilling. I can hide and wait for some idiot to come sniffing around for loot, making use of cover as well as the stealth player’s best friend, the shotgun. If I’m really lucky, I can pick up some decent loot during this time, most particularly the sniper rifle, which is great for late-game sneaking.
I like to watch other players — far better players than me — attacking each other’s forts and increasing the odds for me. But by this time, I’ve no choice but to get aggressive and try to make an approach to a fort, which usually ends badly.
Of course, stealthing is just one way to play. It has its downsides. No one likes to die while they’re hiding in a bush, or even pretending to be a bush. It’s humiliating. But this is the life I’ve chosen.
It also drives spectators nuts. My kids are do-or-die types who bail out of the bus at the earliest opportunity, and never fail to head for popular fight-spots. They can’t understand how I can play the way I do. But I just tell them to get lost. I like to take my time, move slowly and take each adventure as it comes. This way, my games fulfill their purpose, which is to create a personal story.
I’ll never be a great Fortnite player, but I’ll always feel immersed in this world, holding my breath as I dash from hut to tree to bush, watching and waiting for you to go ambling across a meadow, sitting nicely in my sights.