Fortnite is a cultural phenomenon, and hundreds of millions of people have downloaded the game. Why? Well, for starters, it’s free—but it’s also incredibly fun, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as winning against 99 other players.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Play Fortnite, and you’ll probably lose dozens (if not hundreds) of times before grabbing your first Victory Royale. After all, people have been playing this game religiously since its July 2017 release. The good news is that a bit of strategy can go a long way.

We scoured the internet to find the best Fortnite tips from the game’s top players. We also looked for common-sense tactics to help newbies (those are up first). If you’re looking to take your game to the next level—or if you just want to stop dying in the first few seconds of the round—here’s everything you need to know.

First of all, understand the basic gameplay mechanics.

We’ll assume that you know how the world of Fortnite works, but to quickly recap, each Battle Royale round starts with up to 100 players. As the round progresses, the play area shrinks as the Storm closes in, forcing players into contact with one another. When players find each other, they fight, and eventually, one player remains.

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Epic Games

The game has over 200 million players worldwide…and most of them aren’t very good. According to experts like Ali Kabbani (TSM Myth, if you’re into streaming), that’s because those players don’t understand Fortnite’s depth.

“When going up against another player that also knows how to utilize the building/editing mechanics, it’s like playing a modern day shooter version of chess…and it’s amazing,” Kabbani told Forbes.

If you’re an absolute newbie, that’s a crucial point: Fortnite isn’t just a shooter. You’ll need a decent trigger finger in order to make it to the endgame, but you’ll also need to know how to build. These days, you can find plenty of awesome videos on sites like YouTube that teach you how to build quickly; use your time early in the game to hone your skills so that you’re prepared to build in the heat of a battle.

“If you just step back, breathe, and just work on improving each mechanic individually (building/shooting/game sense), you will excel and improve much faster than the rest of the competition,” Kabbani said.

If you’re new to Fortnite’s crafting mechanic, try learning a basic 1×1 tower. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t immediately build a protective structure on your first try—study the basics, practice, and you’ll be building with the best of them in no time.

While you’re at it, you should also brush up on your combat skills. Fortnite isn’t identical to other multiplayer shooters, and it has a few quirks; when firing an assault weapon, for instance, you’ll be far more accurate if you’re not moving, so strafing is usually a bad idea.

To sum that up with an easy-to-remember rule: Don’t move unless you have to move, and get ready to lose. A lot.

Know where to land.

While chests and other items appear randomly, they do appear in the same areas with similar frequency. In other words, some named areas will almost always have more loot than other areas.

More loot means more enemies, of course, so you might have to fight your way to the gear of your dreams. Still, if you don’t play the early game effectively, you won’t survive the endgame, so try to pick your landing location before the game actually starts.

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Fortnite Insider

So, what’s the best landing location? That varies by season, but you can study the Fortnite wiki to get started. Per a Ranker poll, gamers ranked Pleasant Park, Tilted Towers, and Salty Springs as the best spots. All three areas offer a decent number of chests, and they’re all fairly popular, so expect to see other players when you touch down.

Pleasant Park and Salty Springs also have plenty of wood, which is crucial for building in the endgame (more on this in a moment). Other factors might affect your landing choice—for instance, the bus’s starting location—so get familiar with the map and know where you can go for decent gear.

Flexibility is key. Inexperienced players might prefer to land on the outskirts of the map, where player encounters are unlikely, but remember that you’ll eventually need to fight to survive. As soon as you understand the game’s basic strategies, you should start targeting areas where you’ll find loot, even if that means finding other (better) players in the process.

Just as important as where to land is how to land. You should never open your glider manually, as this slows down your descent. In Fortnite, the glider opens automatically at a certain altitude, so don’t worry about slamming into the ground (although that might make the beginning of the game more interesting).

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Forbes

Your glider opens sooner if you aim for lower points on the map, so on the first part of your descent, you’ll want to aim for low ground—think rivers and valleys, not mountains, hills, or other inviting areas. Once your glider opens, feel free to make your way toward those high points. Landing early is crucial, since you’ll have more time to gather supplies while your enemies are still in the air.

If you’re not farming early in the game, you’re gonna have a bad time.

We’ll repeat this ad nauseam: Fortnite is a shooter, but it’s also a crafting game. And in order to craft effectively, you’ll need materials, so you should spend the first phase of each round collecting. Grab your trusty pickaxe and grab whatever materials you can find.

Remember, while steel and stone might seem like attractive materials to newbies, the pros build out of wood for good reasons: In Fortnite, wood is strong, plentiful, and easy to collect.

Experiment with crafting, especially if you’re new to the game, but be sure to save materials for vending machines and close-quarters battles.

Plan your strategy for the different phases.

After you land, your first priority is collecting materials and loot. When the Storm starts closing in, you’ll need to “rotate,” which means moving around the play area circle towards your destination. This technique allows you to cover large swaths of the map, so you’ll end up with better gear (in theory, anyways). You certainly don’t want to stand still, or you’ll get left behind.

While you’re at it, you’ll want a close-range and medium-range weapon for the midgame. By the time the endgame rolls around, you should also have explosives and plenty of medkits. Ideally, you’ll collect all of your ammo early so that you won’t have to waste time collecting bullets in the endgame.

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IGN

Streamer Tyler Blevins (better known as Ninja) says that the early game is all about collection and farming. Find a good weapon and a few supplies, and you’re ready for the next phase.

“After that, it’s all about rotating properly when the Storm pushes you in a specific way and making sure you are taking note of where the bus was going, so you know of where players are on the map—where they’re more than likely going to be rotating from as well, where there are going to be hotspots that are going to be pushing people certain ways depending on where the Storm goes on the map,” Blevins told Forbes.

Strategy comes into play in the mid-game. Before you move, think about how other players are reacting. If you’re near the edge of the shrinking Storm, for instance, you can expect panicking players to run into frame, and you can probably dispatch them easily with a bit of planning.

Be ready to change your strategy.

If you’re lucky, you might land right near a chest with some epic items. You might end up with the exact loadout you need to survive the endgame…but you might not.

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Successful players understand that randomness is part of the game. Streamer Vikkstar123 has built his reputation around that aspect of Fortnite, and by constantly experimenting with different loadouts, he’s gradually become a formidable foe. The TSM team is another great example; by adapting building styles when Fortnite’s developers limited resource farming, they were able to find new advantages that allowed them to dominate.

Staying flexible lets you compete in Fortnite’s ever-changing world, so it’s a fundamental part of a successful approach. By changing how you play the game, you’ll gradually find new ways to surprise your opponents—and you’ll probably have more fun, too.

“You’ve got to make sure that you’re playing with the kit that you’re running,” Blevins said. “If you’re playing SMG and up close weapons, you want to be super aggressive. If you’re sniper rifles and rifles you want to make sure that you’re keeping your distance.”

Watch successful players to learn a variety of strategies. Streams from players like Tfue can help new players learn how to adapt, which is crucial in a game that changes as frequently as Fortnite. If you’re not into streaming, just keep watching to the end of each round. If you quit immediately after you’re eliminated, you probably won’t find new ways to win.

Make sure your system’s up to par.

One of the great things about Fortnite is that it runs on pretty much anything thanks to excellent utilization of the Unreal Engine 4 game engine. It runs on Windows, macOS, Xbox One, Playstation 4, iOS, Nintendo Switch, and Android—and given Fortnite’s immense popularity, we won’t be surprised if someone figures out a way to port it onto a graphing calculator.

If you’re playing the game on mobile or on a console, you probably don’t have to mess with the graphics settings. However, if you’re playing on PC, make sure to prioritize gameplay over visual performance when choosing your settings.

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You’ll want to choose the “epic” settings for view distance and textures, if possible. If your rig can’t quite handle an “epic” view distance, don’t worry; this setting affects how the game renders far-off objects, but it doesn’t affect when other players appear on your screen. Turning the shadows feature off can give your graphics card some breathing room, so if your computer is struggling to show the game, try making that change.

Sound is arguably more important than graphics. A great set of headphones can give you an edge since you’ll hear other players coming—which should give you time to set an ambush. Try not to rely on low-quality speakers (for instance, built-in laptop speakers) when you’re playing competitive games like Fortnite, or you’ll likely end up on the wrong end of the leaderboard.  

This is a good place for another gameplay tip: If you’re still struggling to find weapons, stay quiet. The best players learn to listen for opponents, so if you’re making a ton of noise late in the game, you can expect some company.

Don’t fear the Storm.

When players get trapped in the Storm, they panic. That’s understandable—the Storm looks pretty terrifying, especially if you’re used to traditional shooters.

But the Storm can actually help you win, provided that you understand how it works. At the beginning of the game, players outside the Storm circle will lose 1 HP per second, which isn’t too substantial. Towards the end of the game, they’ll take 10 HP, so players can only stay outside the Storm for 10 seconds without losing.

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Depending on the situation, you might actually want to stay in the Storm for a few seconds to lay an ambush, force a player to change strategies, or find that last piece of great gear. If you’ve got a Cozy Campfire, a Chug Jug, or a bunch of bandages, you can use your time in the Storm to creating a winning advantage.

Staying on the edge of the Storm can also prevent other players from sneaking up on you, so get comfortable with it. Provided that you know how quickly it moves—and the consequences of stepping outside of the play area—you’ll be perfectly fine.   

Keep your inventory order consistent.

You’ve just tracked down one of the final players, and you realize you’re going to need an RPG. You fumble through your inventory and…get sniped. Hey, it happens.

To prevent this scenario from playing out hundreds of times, keep your inventory in precise order. Put close-range items first, long-range items second, and healing items third. Per GernaderJake, this strategy helps you focus on combat—which might make a huge difference, as a slight delay can easily cost you the round.

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Android Central

“I can pull out whatever I may need in a fight without looking down to find it in my inventory,” GernaderJake wrote.

Over time, you’ll develop muscle memory for moving between slots, provided that you’re able to keep your inventory organized. That can be incredibly important in the endgame. If you’re fumbling with your keyboard or controller trying to find your Chug Jug, you’re going to be easy prey for a better player.

Don’t use a passive playstyle.

New players usually avoid other players, since that means certain elimination. Some people are really, really good at Fortnite, so if you’re trying to survive, avoiding your fellow players makes sense.

Eventually, though, you’ll have to confront an opponent. When that happens, you’d better know what you’re doing—and if you can’t play aggressively, you’ll probably get stomped.

“The more fights you get into, the more practice you get,” wrote streamer GernaderJake for IGN. “The more practice you get, the more lethal you become. When you hear shots fired, go towards them. When you see an enemy moving nearby, engage with them. When you see a bush, don’t hide in it! Be aggressive, seek fights, and become a more efficient combatant.”

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Tom’s Guide

We’re probably sounding like a broken record at this point, but it goes back to one of the fundamentals: To be good, you need to practice. You can’t out-strategize poor fundamentals, and the only way to get better is to fight (even if you’re pretty sure you’re going to lose).

“Stop trying to win right away when you don’t know how to play,” Blevins told Forbes. “Everyone wants to win, but if they just put a solid week of practice into landing in a very tough area multiple times, even if they’re not winning—it’s fine.”

Focus on having fun and learning about the game, not on winning. It’s a less frustrating playstyle, and it pays dividends in the long run.

“They’re going to learn where the good loot is, to get practice with all the weapons, practice with people pushing on them and being able to push on other people, and they’re going to be forced to build in certain situations, and that’s going to improve their building skills,” Blevins said. “And they’ll see that they’ll improve that way much quicker than lingering around the outside of the map and engaging in a fight once in a blue moon.”

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t choose your battles. Run towards a tower, and you’ll probably get sniped, so plan strategically, especially as the Storm starts shrinking the play area. At the end of the day, though, Fortnite is a game—and to win at any game, you need practice.