Lately, I’ve been playing squads in Fortnite, instead of my usual short-lived solo runs. I mostly play with strangers and keep voice chat off. Playing squads has definitely helped me get better at the game, but there’s one thing I still can’t master: Choosing where to land.
Because I’m not playing with voice chat, there’s no ability to discuss where to land once the Battle Bus takes off. I tend to wait until someone else chooses a spot by placing a marker on it, and then I place my marker next to them immediately so I seem like a team player, even if it’s not my ideal landing spot. But sometimes another player sets a different marker, or someone insists on another spot by selecting and de-selecting it multiple times.
I don’t know what to do in these cases. Should I trust the person who was quickest on the draw because they seem confident? Should I go with the person who seems most emphatic, since maybe they have their reasons — a challenge to complete, or maybe a plan? If I switch my marker, will I look wishy-washy? If I don’t, will I look stubborn? Will I make an enemy of a team member that will come back to bite me when things get tough?
In some ways it’s worse when no one picks, because then I feel like I have to. In these instances, I’ll pick the least populated area that catches my eye first and wait to see what happens. When the rest of my squad goes along with me I’m always a little disturbed—why would they trust me? Does this make me the leader? Will I have to call all the shots now? Sometimes the act of choosing will convince another player to pick a different spot, and I’ll quickly swap to that one. But does that make me look like a pushover? How do I establish myself in the hierarchy of silent strangers through nothing but setting a glowing beacon on the game’s map?
I asked folks on Twitter to tell me how they decide where to land, and people’s answers varied. Some told me they followed whoever picked first, while others said they wanted to be the one to pick. No one seemed like they overthought it quite as much as I do, which is probably a sign that I’m reading too much into things. Still, picking a landing spot is the first way your team learns about you, and I want to make a good impression on the people who will be responsible for my virtual life for the next two seconds to ten minutes, depending how the match plays out.
Other than this brief moment of social stress, I’ve been having a great time playing with strangers. The other night I ran back into the storm to rescue a squadmate who had fallen off something high. Later, I was caught in the storm and died. I knew my squadmate was too far away to save me, but I like to believe they felt bad about it, the way I do when I can’t get to someone to revive them. Fortnite feels like a different game when played with others, and it’s definitely helped me rank up my Battle Pass (I just got a new dog!). I’ve even gotten a bunch of eliminations, which rarely happens when I’m solo. I’m going to stick with it, even if all my matches start with a bit of awkwardness.
How do you pick who decides where to land? Let me know in the comments. (Also, let me know if it’s rude not to accept friend requests from strangers I play with, because that’s a whole other can of social worms...)