If your kids play Fortnite then you’ve likely heard about the recent dispute between the game developer, Epic Games, and Apple. Basically, Epic Games tried to sidestep Apple’s in-app purchase rules. Apple got mad. Lawsuits went flying.

The legal mumbo jumbo isn’t why we’re here though. If you’ve ever told your kids they can’t have something then you know they just want it even more. Now with Fortnite booted from the App store we can imagine that it will see a spike in popularity. If that’s possible to imagine given the game has 350 million registered account.

With all the excitement you might be wondering how you can start playing Fortnite. You love to game, but this is new. You might even be nervous being the noob and wanting to avoid your kids pwning you. Fear not as our Fortnite 101 quick start guide will ensure you have the rules and lingo down. The in-game skills, however, are up to you to develop.

Fortnite 101

How it Works

If you’re like me you probably just jump in and figure it out. That’s how all the good games of days gone by worked. You just played and learned while you went along. Now that day is gone and you have me to help guide you through your initiation into Fortnite.

Fortnite is a Battle Royale style game. In this style of game a bunch of players are dropped into a world (called a “map”) and duke it out. If you are defeated then you are out. Obviously the objective is to be the last person standing. It might seem like with a field of skilled players the match could go on forever. That’s where the storm comes in. Throughout the game a storm will close in on the island and inflict damage. This will reduce the number of players and causes the active play area to get smaller as the game progresses.

The game starts when your character drops into the island. You start out empty handed. I guess these developers grew up playing some of the James Bond games where you have to secure a weapon at the start. For you hoarder-dads you should also hunt around for some powerups and other items to complement your weapons at the start.

Once you’ve stocked up on gear it’s time to join the fight!

First we need to go over some Fortnite jargon. You know what they say:

Don’t bring dad jokes to a Fortnite fight”

Fortnite Jargon

This will be your first way to prove to your kids you know what’s up in Fortnite. Use the right terms and you will have earned a small amount of respect. This isn’t everything since new slang will always emerge, but it’s a starter.

  • Heals (aka Slurps) – healing items such as health points. These could be med-kits, chug-jugs, slurp potions and bandages. Helping out a teammate in need can help lead you to victory. My advice for the true noob is to hoard your heals. You’ll need it.
  • Skin – no this isn’t someone seeking a very odd trophy. A “skin” is how your in-game character looks. Buy or earn skins to give your character some personality!
  • Shield pop (aka cracked) – you can triumphantly call out that you’ve popped an opponent’s shield or “cracked” them if you have fully or partially destroyed their shield.
  • Mats – is short for materials such as wood, brick/stone, and metal. Towards the end of the game these mats will be super important so stock up early.
  • Launching – is kinda what it sounds like: an opponent launches into the air. If you see an opponent launch call it out so your teammates can look to the sky for an attack.
  • W-keying – means you or another player are charging ahead full force. The goal: push forward until either your or the opponent are eliminated.
  • Sweats – could be you after an intense round, but in Fortnite it means the good players. The really, really good players. If someone says s/he is a “sweat” then know that player is likely very skilled. What do you call a lobby full of skilled players? A sweaty lobby. No one said this Fortnite 101 guide wouldn’t get weird.
  • Get height – isn’t as bad as it might sound. It just means a player is seeking high ground to have a better vantage point.

Now that you can drop some Fortnite lingo, or at least understand what others are saying, let’s discuss some basic tactics.

Fortnite Tactics

A Fortnite 101 guide wouldn’t be complete without going over a few tactics.

Don’t die is the first sage advice I have to offer. This might seem pretty simple, but when you first jump into the game it’s a lot to take in. If you aren’t careful your game time will be super short. My advice is to head to the blue waters. Find an area where other players aren’t congregating. See if you can gather some weapons and supplies and get comfortable with the controls. Also consider that sometimes sitting back and letting the other players take each other out can be a winning (or high ranking) strategy.

Keep your eye on the storm. As I mentioned above the storm will slowly close in on the playing area during the game. Staying close to the storm makes it less likely that an opponent will sneak up from behind. Just keep your eye on the storm and clock. The storm moves faster than you when it gets going.

Conserve that ammo is likely something you already knew. If you ever enjoyed a good first-person shooter you know being reckless with ammo is a true noob mistake. I expect better from many of you in this area.

Watch and learn young grasshopper. Yup, The Karate Kid gets respect here. If you get knocked out early then sit back and watch. You will likely learn a few new things.

Building might not be the coolest part of the game, but it is super helpful. Learning even a few basic builds can help you access more loot and even avoid damage when an opponent engages you.

Having fun is the point of every game I’ve ever played. Take this as a chance to have some fun with your kids and don’t get too carried away. Let’s be honest, they are probably already way better than you will be (if only it wasn’t for that meddling job).

This concludes our Fortnite 101 guide. If you have never played Fortnite you won’t be a pro by reading this guide. You will have to jump in and learn as you go. Hopefully by understanding some basic jargon and tactics it will be a bit easier as you get going.

At the end of the day, games are meant to be fun so enjoy and have fun with the kids! Even if Fortnite isn’t your cup of coffee I’d recommend checking out some of these other top video games to play with your kids.

Now, off to unlock some new skins and work on my building skills!


One part gaming enthusiast, one part Python developer and 100% dad. I write about technology, gadgets, and gaming from a dad's perspective. I enjoy sharing all things tech-related with my kids. I hope you enjoy my musings!

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