Walls Are Weapons

You play all the time, but let's talk about Building 101.

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For months I’ve been asking people two questions, “What’s going well for you in Fortnite? What’s something you want to improve on?”

Easily, the most common answer is that people want to get better at building.

I think building in Fortnite is really misunderstood. Is building an offensive action or a defensive action? Well, it’s both.

Today, we’re not going to worry about build fights, waterfalling, edit plays or any of the crazy fast stuff we watch pros do on Twitch. We’re going to talk about the basics of building:

  1. Walls are Weapons

  2. Stick and Move

  3. Don’t Forget to Breathe

Walls are Weapons

I make it a practice to try to avoid as many 50/50-type encounters as possible. It’s easy to get into a 50/50-type situation where you’re facing your opponent, each of you shooting your pump and waiting for the next available shot. At that point, the only things keeping either player alive are aim and nerves.

It’s natural to think of walls a defensive items, something to put space between you and your opponent(s). But what if we re-framed walls to think of them instead as weapons?

Putting up a wall introduces randomness into our 50/50 situation. When we put up a wall (remember: it’s a deadly weapon now!), our opponent doesn’t know what we’re going to do! Suddenly their calculation of when we’re going to return fire goes out the window (no pun intended!) because we just introduced a variety of new potential situations for them to account for.

Are we going to walk to the side of the wall for a right hand peek to more safely take our shot? Are we going to make an edit play on that wall? Are we going to build a ramp on top of our wall and take high ground in the situation, making for an easier headshot?

The mental calculation our enemy is doing about what we’re going to do next gets much more complex as soon as we use our new favorite weapon. We also don’t know the tendencies of the person we come across, so unlike in basketball where we have detailed statistics about a small number of players to prepare, a lot of different things can happen!

Even in long-range encounters, we should think: walls first. If the enemy is looking, we put up a wall and a ramp and crouch down. If they’re not looking, we pop 2-3 shots, then put up cover before they can take their first shot. Walls are weapons, my friend.

Note: Walls here can also be ramps if you like, the same principle applies.

Stick and Move

The legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was known for the speed of his punches and the speed of his evasions. He would often often hit a few jabs or a cross and then put his arms up to block his opponent and side step out of the way to avoid a flurry of punches. That’s great metaphor for how to think about our shotgun game.

Shotgun shot, wall. Shot, wall, window edit, shot. Shot, ramp, high ground, cool, they can barely see me, shot. Done.

Go into Creative or Team Rumble and get into the practice of putting a wall up immediately after taking a shot with your shotgun. Sure, we can switch to our SMG for the quick finish, but our enemy will be temporarily confused as the headshot they’ve perfectly lined up falls right in the top third of our shiny new wall. While they take a split second to figure out what to do next now that we’re not standing directly in front of them, we can give ourselves additional positional advantage, whether that’s an edit they don’t think will happen or just putting a bunch of floors on high ground so they don’t know exactly where we are.

Shoot. Wall. Move. Use your time. Don’t rush.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

I find myself a lot of times in the top 5 of a game, tight circle, lots of strategy and planning going on in everyone’s heads. In my head, my breathing has gotten shallow. Ears sucked up to my shoulders. Everything feels super important. I’m not thinking about winning the next engagement, I’m thinking about how much I want to win the game. But not the path to get there. Everything feels so fast and then I die.

It may sound funny to some to recommend breathing in newsletter about Fortnite but we’re going to talk a lot about breathing and performance anxiety here, because it can help us become better players!

In that endgame, we can enter fight or flight. Our body and mind can feel the importance of the moment. We’re playing a winner-take-all survival game, after all. In fight or flight, our vision narrows, we don’t hear audio cues from our teammates. We forget that we’re safe at home in front of our PC or console, that there’s no actual threat to our actual lives.

Duck behind your cover, take a deep breath. 3-5 seconds in, 3-5 seconds out. Do it again. Do it a few times if you have safety in that moment in the game. Recover, make a plan about where you’re going next and what you’re going to do.

When we take deep breaths like that, we’re calming our central nervous system. We’re reconnecting with the rest of our body and getting out of our brain. It allows us to return to reality, out of survival mode, make better tactical decisions, and allows for our aim to be more on point.

When we shoot, we can exhale to keep that equilibrium, just like shooting a real gun. Inhale while your pump loads its next shot, exhale ask you take your shot and finish off the enemy. Then breathe and recover before the next engagement.

Breathing is a hugely important part of competition because it allows us to play the same game that we can play when we’re fresh, when things get stressful. Everyone knows someone who crumbles and can’t finish. Part of their struggles come from their breath.

Thanks for reading!

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