Yes it is me: That Guy. The one who, when you were preening yourself after winning a huge Fortnite battle, dropped the hammer – and took all your winnings away. GG. See you next time.
I creep to the edge of Pleasant Park and spy two enemies juking it out on the roof of a house. One takes a shotgun blast to the face and drops, but the victor can’t relax because another player starts lobbing grenades from the next building over, and soon a third player wades in from the east of town, spraying his assault rifle. From the safety of the treeline I watch the three-way battle unfold. Wood stairs spring up and then crumble under fire as the trio struggle for the high ground, until eventually the shooting stops. The ground is littered with purple and gold weapons, and they’re all scooped up by one player. For now, at least.
As he’s sprinting away from the scene, plotting his route to the next circle, I pop out from behind a bush and nail him with a couple of quick bursts from my assault rifle. Before he can get a shot off he goes down, dropping all his goodies. Pleasant Park’s loot is now mine, and I haven’t even set foot in town.
Such is the life of an assassin.
I’ve found this tactic – gearing up in smaller spots and then waiting for players as they leave larger towns – to be a reliable way of getting through the game’s early minutes with a few kills under your belt. The key is picking a good location to land. There are a few places that I find myself returning to time after time: the mansion to the west of Pleasant Park, the Motel to the west of Anarchy Acres, the pair of houses just to the left of Shifty Shafts, the compound to the northeast of Flush Factory. But if you try it out, you’ll soon work out your favourites.
Anywhere with one or two large buildings will do because you’ll normally find a couple of chests and enough decent weapons to catch someone by surprise, and last month’s map overhaul added spots like this all over the western half of the map.
As you’re dropping, swivel your camera so you know how many players will land nearby. If anybody has had the same idea as you, grab a weapon and seek them out immediately. Because you’ve picked a smaller spot, you’ll usually only have a maximum of one other player for company, so when they’re dead you can loot in peace. But don’t dally, because you need to be on the move.
The reason the tactic works is that clearing larger locations takes a lot more time than smaller ones. When you’re finished in your drop area, players in busier towns are still battling it out for control, so you want to head over there and feed off the scraps. Position yourself between your chosen target location and the next circle, preferably on high ground to get the best view of anybody leaving the scene. Make sure you stay hidden and have a plan in mind: you might want to fire an assault rifle burst and then build a quick staircase, switching to your shotgun to finish the other player off, for example.
Be patient. If you’ve seen a group of players drop somewhere, then one of them must emerge eventually. And when they do, hold your fire until they’re clearly in your sites – you might need to reposition to put yourself in their path. As players leave towns they’re often thinking about gathering resources, or they might have their map open looking for their route to the circle. As long as you stay hidden, you’ll have the advantage. Even if you they have better weapons than you, or better aim, the element of surprise will mean you win far more battles than you lose and often you can kill an enemy without them returning fire.
You can adapt this tactic to fit any situation, too. In a recent game I aimed for the compound to the northeast of Flush Factory but saw four parachutes pop open next to me (the bus passed right overhead, so it was a popular spot). I quickly peeled off to the buildings to the northwest, killing the other player that joined me. The loot wasn’t great, but I picked up a pump shotgun, which is excellent in close-quarters fights. The circle spawned towards the north of the map, so I crouch-ran to the hilltop overlooking the compound where the four players had landed. I waited for somebody to emerge. I spotted them kicking up dust in town but waited until they came closer, and they walked right into my crosshair. I couldn’t miss.
To some people the idea of sitting around waiting for the action to happen might sound boring. But to me – and I think others will find the same if they try it out – it’s tense and rewarding. There’s a thrill to waiting in the shadows, knowing that the other player has no idea you’re there. And when you pull it off perfectly, and they go down in a few shots, you feel like a genius for luring them into your trap.
This tactic won’t help you win rounds: you’ll need to perfect your late-game building to do that, which is another discussion for another time. But if you find that you’re consistently dying early on, or that you can only survive by dropping in the middle of nowhere where you know nobody else will be, then I urge you to try it out. It will reliably see you through the game’s opening, with enough weapons and ammo to give you a chance of a Victory Royale.