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A Defender is a character type that can play two different roles in Fortnite. They can be assigned to a Defender squad which will increase a Hero's defensive attributes in each of the four zones. They can also be called upon during a mission via a utility trap called a Defender Post. The Defender Post is only available to use if the player does not have a full team. 

Defenders are available in five quality types: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, and Legendary. The better the quality of the defender, the higher they can be ranked. Unlike Survivors, Defenders do not come in multiple personality types and will not need to be mixed and matched in a Squad, as Defender Squads can only have one of each weapon type in it.

Types

Defenders are available in five weapon types. Each type needs to be unlocked in the Skills tree before players can use them. The first Defender available is the Rifleman, who is in the Assault Rifle category. 

  • Assault Rifle - Use for mid-range area defense.
  • Melee - Use for short-range defense.
  • Pistol - Use for short to mid-range area defense.
  • Shotgun - Use for short-range area defense.
  • Sniper - Use for long-range area defense. 

Arming

In order to provide a Defender weapons and ammo, both must be dropped near the Defender. The player must be relatively close. The Defender will then pick up and equip the items. Subsequent use of the weapon will lower its durability, and the ammo used is not recoverable.

If the Defender pad is destroyed during the course of gameplay, the Defender disappears and its weapon and ammo are returned to the player. Once re-summoned, the Defender must have their items dropped near them once again.

Perks

The perks Defenders available for each Defender type only apply to the Defender and not player Heroes. More perks become available as the Defender is leveled, unlocking every five levels up to level 25.

Perks for weapon-using Defenders include Crit chance, rate of fire, reload speed, and weapon damage. Perks for Bruisers (melee) include buffs to health and shields, as well as weapon durability and damage.

As for what perks to prioritize, it varies by type of defender.

Best Gun Defender Perks

  • Weapon Damage
  • Rate of Fire
  • Crit Chance
  • Reload Speed

Rate of fire and reload speed of course means that your defender will eat bullets, but it really does a lot to increase their overall DPS.

Best Melee Defender Perks

  • Weapon Damage
  • Shield / Shield Regen
  • Health / Health Regen
  • Crit Chance

Your Bruiser is going to be up close and personal with a lot of husks and since they won’t move like a player, they will take quite the beating. Health and shield are essential to keep them alive so you don’t have to keep running over to revive them. The major benefit of using a melee defender is actually that they are a good distraction to keep husks off your fort, so you actually want them to take a beating.

Notes

  • During combat, Defenders will not die. They will enter a revivable state once their hit points drop to zero.
  • Using Defenders does not lock out players from joining a group. If another player is found, one of the Defenders is de-summoned and the new player takes its place.
  • Leveling a few core Defenders (rather than all owned) is preferable, as XP used is also XP that could go to a player's Hero otherwise. Higher level Defenders are more useful on missions; lower level tend to be much weaker.
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