Fortnite 101: How to Unlock Items in Battle Royale

How to Unlock Items in Battle Royale

While playing Fortnite Battle Royale, you may have noticed a few players wearing different outfits or using fancy dance moves. These are cosmetic items that can only be obtained by unlocking them. However, unlocking items in Fortnite is a little different than many free-to-play games.

Fortnite Battle Royale encourages continuous play by making you work for the items you want. Not all cosmetic items are free, but you can earn quite a bit without spending a dime. I'll highlight the best methods for collecting these items below on your iPhone. (The Android version is not out yet.)

Background: Seasons, Tiers & the Item Shop

Gameplay in Fortnite Battle Royal is divided into seasons that span multiple months. The current season, for instance, runs from Feb. 22 through April 30. While each season is ongoing, there are collections of items that you can snag.

There are two main categories for these season-based collections: Free Pass and Battle Pass. You can find these collections from the "Battle Pass" tab on the main menu (the tab looks sort of like a crown icon). The Free Pass set is the first row with a gray background, while Battle Pass is just underneath that with a gold background. Free Pass items are completely free as the name implies, but Battle Pass items require a subscription.

As you can see in the screenshot above, the Free Pass and Battle Pass items are unlocked in tiers (depicted by the numbered columns). You'll automatically reach each of these tiers as you progress through the game during any season, thus unlocking the items they contain.

There are 100 tiers, so acquiring all the rewards will take some time. According to the game's developers, it should take a minimum of 75 hours to reach tier 100. However, if you don't pay for the Battle Pass, all Free Pass items are unlocked by Tier 54, so progression afterward is unnecessary. How you advance tiers and unlock items is dependent on whether you use the Free Pass or the Battle Pass.

The last method for unlocking items is the simplest — just buy them from the item shop. But since the Free Pass and Battle Pass methods are a little more nuanced than a quick summary would allow for, I'll outline all three methods in detail below.

Method 1: Free Pass

When you start the game, you will do so under the Free Pass, allowing you to unlock all items in this collection during the season. There are two methods to progress as a Free Pass user: Playing the game and completing challenges.

To advance tiers, you simply need to play the game. As you play matches, you gain experience points to level up your characters. You gain more experience points for better performances, such as placing higher overall and racking up a larger number of kills. As you level up, you gain what's known as Battle Stars. Every one level gained will provide one Battle Star. However, every fifth level (5, 15, 25, etc.) grants five Battle Stars, and every tenth level (10, 20, 30, etc.) nets you ten Battle Stars.

Battle Stars are important because they advance your tier. When you collect ten Battle Stars, you'll advance one tier, unlocking all rewards from that tier.

You can earn even more Battle Stars completing the Daily Challenges and Weekly Challenges offered from the "Challenges" tab on the main menu (the icon looks like a checklist). These are specific tasks that test your skills.

Daily Challenges do not reset after the day and can only be removed from your list by either completing the task or abandoning the quest. You can have up to three active daily challenges at one time.

With Weekly Challenges, once the week is done, the challenges end and you have to start the new weekly challenges. Weekly Challenges are harder but offer better rewards. There are seven challenges a week that each offers an individual reward plus a cumulative reward for completing four weekly challenges.

Method 2: Battle Pass

For $10 a season, you can unlock the Battle Pass which exponentially increases the number of items available. With the Battle Pass, you gain all the items along the bottom row of the "Battle Pass" screen, and you also get all the Free Pass items. However, to make any purchases in Fortnite, you'll need V-bucks.

V-Bucks are the in-game currency. Using real money, you can purchase a certain amount of V-Bucks which can then be used to make in-game purchases. The screenshot below shows the pricing in the "Store" tab (the V-Buck symbol), but for context, advancing a tier will cost about $1.50 USD (although you need to spend at least $9.99 to obtain any V-Bucks in the first place).

To be clear though, you do not need to pay this amount and no items will affect gameplay (such as better weapons or improved armor). However, there are only 13 Free Pass rewards compared to the over 100 rewards for Battle Pass users.

With Battle Pass, besides the method to unlock items available to Free Pass users, you gain three additional methods. First, you gain two additional challenges options, Battle Pass Challenge, and Battle Pass Weekly Challenges. With Battle Pass Challenges, you gain essentially a free daily challenge. As long as you complete this challenge, you will be given a new one the next day.

Battle Pass uses also get another set of Weekly Challenges. These challenges operate exactly the same as the Free Pass option but with Battle Pass, you double the offering. Finally, you can pay your way to top.

At any time for Battle Pass users, you can advance a tier by using the "Purchase Tier" button below the menu. Purchasing a tier is equivalent to gaining 10 Battle Stars, retaining whatever progression you have at your current tier. For example, if you have 5 Battle Stars in Tier 3 and use "Purchase Tier," you will have 5 Battle Stars in Tier 4. Advancing one tier costs 150 V-Bucks.

Method 3: Item Shop

Besides buying a Battle Pass or using the Purchase Tier option, you can also use V-Bucks to buy exclusive items under the "Item Shop" tab (it looks like a shopping cart icon). Items are priced according to rarity which follows the following categories:

  • Green:Uncommon
  • Blue: Rare
  • Purple: Epic
  • Gold: Legendary

These items are all limited time only. Some will only be available for a few days (or a day), while others will be available for weeks (or a week).

Additional Information

The Battle Pass can be purchased at any time and will not penalize you for a late purchase. For example, if you purchase the Battle Pass when you advanced to Tier 25, you will receive all the Battle Pass rewards from Tiers 1–25. However, there are advantages to purchasing the Battle Pass early, including the Battle Pass Challenges and (for season 3) a 50% personal XP boost, making leveling up easier.

Fortnite Battle Royale attempts to correct some of the issues that plague many free-to-play games. By forcing users to earn their rewards, no matter if they pay or not, it removes the envy of players who cannot or will not pay for items. What do you think about Fortnite Battle Royale's unlock system? Let us know in the comments below.

Cover image and screenshots by Jon Knight/Gadget Hacks

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