Guide to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Beginner’s Guide to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Everyone here wants to kill you. They run around, punch at the air or each other, jump on the tables and walls and fences, but their clownishness betrays the energy with which they will commit murder. Their crosshairs will, very probably, find you in the next few minutes. Bodies and blood will litter the weeds and sand of the landscape. It’s as inescapable as the tide, or the slowly closing wall of blue. Welcome to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, you will probably die. However, if you want some tips to try and stay alive, here is our guide to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.


First Thing’s First

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a competitive PvP game in which roughly 100 players will all get on a plane, strap on parachutes, and drop into a several square kilometer landmass that is full of empty stretches of land, abandoned buildings, discarded vehicles, where everyone will attempt to dive down, gather up weapons, and kill everyone else so they’re the last one standing.

The first thing to learn is the controls. Standard WASD movement, space is jump, F to open doors or pick up items, Q and E lean to the left and right respectively, C to crouch, X to prone, left click shoots, right click aims, R reloads, M is map, Tab is inventory. It’s fairly standard for most players familiar with the first person shooter experience, but these techniques are going to be the baseline on which all future techniques build. Oh, and holding Ctrl makes you walk slower, which quiets your footsteps. Alt lets you swivel your head without changing the direction you’re facing, which is good while running through fields to keep situational awareness.

The stuff largely unique to the battle royale genre: cities will be full of buildings—and thus loot—but will probably also be teeming with players and threats. Empty stretches of land provide distant sightlines, and less population, but also less cover if engaged out in the fields. Bandages and first aid kits only heal up to 75% of full health, energy drinks and painkillers and adrenaline all heal a set amount over time (including over the 75% limit of other healing items), and med kits are slower to use but heal you to full instantly. Cool? Cool.

Now that that’s out of the way…


It’s Time to Get Shot

Since you’re vacationing on the murder landmass, the important thing to learn is that you’re going to both shoot at others, and get shot at. Even if you manage a clever position, are well-equipped, and get the drop on your enemy (or enemies), you’ll probably get shot. You’ll probably also get shot at. Mathematically, you’re probably going to die.

So, embrace dying. Many players will advise that you should drop into populated areas on your first few runs, collect loot, and get into ill-advised gunfights often and early. These gunfights will serve as the foundation on which your survival skills get built. Through these fights you’ll learn how others take cover, what cover you took worked for you, how to fire from angles suit your style, and be quickly exposed to a range of weapons.

Guide to PlayerUnknown's BattlegroundsUse this time to figure out if leaning helps you expose less of yourself to attackers, to learn quick and smart inventory management, or to learn the profiles of weapons on the ground so you can quickly select weapons you like. All of these skills will make a difference in how long you remain vulnerable for the rest of your playtime.

Basically, get shot a lot. This will butcher your chances of winning early, because you’ll be diving face-first into gunfire on a regular basis, but it’s the first step to building up shooting skills that will help you survive in the final, tiny circle at the end of the game where conflict is. Even with the best habits, late-game conflict is unavoidable. So, learn to shoot and get shot early, and it will also teach you how to survive getting shot.


It’s Time to Not Get Shot

Okay, if you followed the above advice then you know know how to get shot. It’s a useful, if bloody, skill. The next technique is the far more elusive ‘not getting shot.’ Of the two, this one is my personal preference. Not getting shot is more fun, but it takes a lot longer.

Remember the frenetic energy with which the players all ran around, flung themselves from furniture, vaulted fences, and punched one another? That’s their weakness. Most everyone who plays PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is in a hurry to do some murderin’. So, an easy way to survive their killing spree is to let them be in a hurry, and lay down in the grass.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds hosts enormous maps, and chances are, if you’re trying to not be seen and not get shot, you can find somewhere to do that for most of the game. As long as you don’t get greedy, you can spend a lot of time surviving simply by letting the people in a hurry bump into each other with nine millimeters until they have less blood still in them than you do. Take time to scope out buildings, crouch and walk to make less noise and present a small profile. Stay out of cities, or scope them out carefully.

Slow and steady wins this race. You can actually complete the game by only ever killing a single person, as long as it’s the last person in the final circle with you. Learning how to navigate sight lines and how to prone and stealth effectively is one of the best ways to survive a long time, without ever needing a weapon or having to heal. As much as learning to shoot, learning to stealth is one of the best ways to live long enough to see the late game, where those good-at-shooting skills come into play.

Guide to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds stealth guideYour biggest enemy here is circle management. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has a blue circle that closes in around the play area, and anyone on the outside of the blue takes damage the longer they sit out in the danger zone. The maps are big, and there’s a lot of ground to cover, so keep track of when the circle is moving (denoted by a timer in the lower right), and try to keep in somewhat easy reach of the inner white circle, which is the outer perimeter that the blue circle will pause until it moves again.


It’s Time to Get Engaged

Now that you’ve had your wild flings and your longer, slower, going steady periods with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, it’s time to think about engagement. In particular, it’s time for you to learn how you want to engage with other players.

Some players live for the fight. Some players just want to lay in a field and watch the flowers sway. Figure out which one of these you are. Players who fight will exhaust ammo and healing items quickly, but will find lots of loot on the handcrafted corpses that they’ve made with their practiced hand at bullet handycrafts. Players who hide tend to use less ammo but will probably have looted fewer buildings (and bodies), but have a longer time of uninterrupted gathering (and not using) of healing items. Though, as a general rule, those who engage will find more on bodies than those who don’t, and will often enter the final circle more flush with stuff. That said, the people who move about quietly tend to hear those happy to engage, and will often be presented with more opportunities to maneuver and select how to engage if they manage their positioning wisely.

Both have pros and cons, so it’s up to you to figure out which one excites you.

If you enjoy engaging with other players in the bullet ballet, take some time to figure out what ranges you engage in best, learn the sound and visual characteristics of guns from a distance so you know how you should attack, and attack from the best possible position. Fighting often doesn’t preclude fighting smart. Smarter fights end quicker, use less ammo, and give your opponents less opportunity to waste their ammo and healing items that will soon belong to you.

If you like to stealth it up, the best method is to shoot only if you’re being fired on already, or if you feel completely confident you can kill your opponent. Good shots are bad, great shots are acceptable, perfect shots are ideal. Any gunfight, no matter, will betray your position, so know that firing is the probable death of stealth. Only take shots you know you can land and only with weapons suited for those ranges.

No matter which you pick, stick with it. Engaging is fun, but carries a larger risk of death. Stealth is easier to consistently pull off, but tends toward less loot and longer games. So, learn how to engage in a way that works well for your playstyle, and stick to methods that suit how you engage. Getting into fights with everyone you see, with any weapon you have, is a good recipe for losing fights you didn’t have to, or didn’t have to take.

Guide to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds lategameIt’s Time to Squeeze In

Over the time practicing good stealthcraft and gun-fu, you’ve probably developed a decent sense of the maps, where people tend to congregate, where loot spawns, where to find vehicles, and how to engage in a decent array of settings.

Now, all that information comes to a narrow point: the final circle.

A tight collection of about 200 square meters, a handful of murderers with guns, a wide array of cover, and a bunch of ways to die and shoot and live and hide. The final circle tends to be pretty tense, tight, and it’s easy to get nervous. If you’re the type to enjoy fighting, take time early to get decent cover on all sides, and swivel your head a lot to keep track of any potential movement. Rely on cover, know your lines of retreat. If you have to move, make sure you’ve cleared (or at least checked) your escape route first.

If you’re stealth, know that most players will congregate around rocks, trees, hills, and buildings since they offer the best cover. The smartest place for you to be is prone, in bushes or grass within a short jaunt of cover but not directly beside it, and with your smallest profile weapon equipped. Move slowly, crouch-jog if you need to move quickly, and if you’re careful, you’ll almost certainly see all of your opponents before they see you. Smoke grenades are both good cover and good distractions, grenades can end fights very quickly, and if you haven’t learned to shoot really well yet, it’s worth the extra time to crawl into a better position.

But honestly, if you’ve lived to the final circle then congratulations, and you probably know more than this guide can teach you.


Final Tips

The road to your first chicken dinner, particularly if you’re not a great shot, is hard. Stealth can consistently point at a top ten finish, but it almost always devolves into a gunfight. Good shooters will find the final circle pretty familiar, and depends on a number of factors but usually favors the faster shot or the better incidental position.

Guide to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and incidental adviceBut a few more random tips not covered in other sections:

  • Vehicles are less bulletproof than you think. Concentrated automatic fire from even just two players can turn a car into a fireball in less time than you think.
  • Suppressors hide the direction the shot is coming from more than they mask the shot itself. Suppressed shots are good for longer distances, but tend to do less up-close because nearby shooting players tend to be easier to identify.
  • Some high-level players discard their pistols to free up room occupied by the pistols’ ammo.
  • Flash hiders make the flashes smaller, but it doesn’t removes them completely. Stealth players should still consider having a muzzle flash when engaging from a distance.
  • Diving under the water is really good at obscuring where players are, so aquatic escapes are surprisingly effective but cause players to move slow, so they’re bad for escaping the blue.
  • Holding Shift while aiming down sights will give the equivalent of a 2x scope and lower barrel sway, but it exhausts the player’s breath quickly.
  • Player models and gunshots cannot be seen or heard at over a 1000 meters.

Most importantly, try to enjoy your time in the murder landmass. Loss is the most likely outcome, regardless of how good you are, so enjoy the journey for the journey, and let the chicken dinners come without expectation!

Oh, and I’m also out there, so good luck.

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Taylor Hidalgo is a freelance writer and editor. He's an enthusiast of books, exercise, videogames, and friends. He'd love it if you read his work, let him know if you enjoyed it, and also made friends with him on Twitter.