PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a battle royale game where players fight to be the last person standing. It can be overwhelming for new players, full of different weapons to choose and smaller mechanics that aren’t readily apparent. These tips will help you survive the battle royale and win yourself a glorious chicken dinner.
This piece originally ran on 6/5/17 and has been updated to reflect new content and changes following the game’s official release.
While you should always play to win, the most important thing to know about Battlegrounds is that you will lose more rounds that you’ll ever win. You will get flashbanged, sniped, shotgunned, and beaten with frying pans. Don’t worry about it; it’s all part of the process.
Battlegrounds offers three games modes: a solo mode with 100 players, a mode that pairs everyone up into duos, and a final mode that tosses folks into four person squads. You can queue up for any of these, but unless you have some buddies to play with, I’d suggest solo-play for learning the basics. If you can survive on your own, you’ll be able to contribute well to a group too.
The game turns on proximity voice chat by default which means a lot of yelling, trash talk, and slurs that you probably don’t want to hear. While keeping the comms open can help you know if a mouthy enemy is nearby, it’s best to mute it by pressing Control+T.
Every match starts with a freefall jump from a plane high above the playing field. Hit M to open up your map and survey where you want to drop. Mark it by right clicking. Major towns will offer a lot of loot, but that also means other players will be heading there too. For beginners, it’s wiser to find smaller villages or homesteads at first. As you get more confident, you can get more audacious with your dropzones.
The new desert map, Miramar, is larger than the default forest map of Erangel. To cut down on drop zone confusion, refer to this list of strong drop locations. In general, you’re looking for drops that are low risk and offer strong loot. In solos and duos, you can choose more isolated locations. In squads, you’ll need to find spots with enough supplies for a full team. Major cities work well but are dangerous. Keep to the outskirts if possible or experiment with smaller towns. They tend to have plenty of loot and draw less competition.
If you’re directly above your dropzone, it’s essential to angle yourself straight towards the ground and press W. Done properly, your character will pick up a great deal of speed and pull their parachute a little closer to the ground as well. These extra seconds could mean the difference between snatching loot or getting ambushed by anyone else near your dropzone.
It is crucial to get your hands on a gear as fast as possible. Search every room in nearby buildings. You’re looking for a few essentials: weapons, ammo, medical supplies, armor, and backpacks. Even if you’re not a fan of a weapon at first, pick it up. Something is better than nothing in the early game and you’ll earn plenty of loot robbing the corpse of fallen enemies.
The default keybind for grabbing supplies is F, but this is slow and your risk picking the wrong item if you’re in a hurry. It’s much faster to open your inventory with either the I or TAB key and right click on the supplies on the left side of your menu. I prefer to click and drag, which also works if you’re fast.
When playing in duos or with a squad, item management is essential. If you have a surplus of ammo or medical supplies that a teammate can make use of, drop the extra on the ground for them. If you want to designate the amount you drop Crtl+Right Click on the item in your inventory.
Among the most important things to grab are backpacks and armor vests. Each of these will increase your inventory capacity by various amounts, which is crucial for stockpiling ammo, medkits, and gun attachments.
There is also a gun holster that you can equip before a match that grants a small inventory space boost. It’s found alongside any other clothing items by clicking the Customization in the upper left side of the menu.
Vests and helmets come in tiers one to three. The higher the level, the more resilient the gear. However, there’s some things you need to know about armor:
- Wearing a ballistic mask does not provide armor.
- At close range, there is virtually no difference between Level One and Level Two helmets. You’ll die in two shots to the head no matter what level you are wearing, although a Level Two does protect for more shots at long distances.
- Body armor tends to protect you from one extra body shot for each level starting at Level One armor, which will allow you to survive around four rifle shots to the chest from close range.
- If your armor has taken damage in a previous fight, don’t be afraid to switch it out for a fresh set. Level Three armor one the verge of breaking might look cool but it’s better in the long run to replace if you come across some fresh Level Two armor.
You can watch a break down of damage statistics in this video by jackfrags.
Battlegrounds has a lot of weapons, each which take specific ammo and can use certain attachments. Knowing their various strengths and weaknesses will help you go far. Here’s a breakdown:
Assault rifles are medium/long range weapons that are the backbone of your arsenal. If you find one, I highly recommend picking one up.
- The AKM is a reliable rifle that fires 7.62 rounds. This ammo type is one of the punchiest in the game and help turn the AKM into a very useful weapon. These rounds also travel a bit slower although it’s hard to notice, which means that long range shots can be tricky because bullets will drop sooner. It’s a beast a close to medium range and always a great choice.
- The M16A4 is another hard hitting rifle that uses 5.56 ammo although I advise using it with some caution. The secondary burst fire mode is can be tricky to master and makes it trickier to use in close quarters. A recent patch also removed the ability to equip an 8x scope, as players were using it as an ad-hoc sniper rifle thanks to how straight and fast 5.56 ammo shoots. It’s still useful but can require some practice to master.
- The M416 is a essentially miniaturized M16 that is highly customizable. It can equip a variety of scopes and attachments, turning it into one of the most useful rifles in the game. I highly recommend it.
- The SCAR-L is an all-purpose rifle that uses 5.56 ammo. It’s something of an all-rounder although I find it a bit hard to aim down the rail without an scope. Besides that, it’s comparable to the M416 as a highly customizable and useful assault rifle
- The Groza is a special rifle only found in airdrops. It fires 7.62 rounds and has an amazingly high fire-rate. It doesn’t always work as a long range weapon but if you want something that will eat up enemies at close range, you won’t find anything better.
- The AUG A3 is another airdrop exclusive. It fires 5.56 ammo and can be considered a flat upgrade from other rifles that use the same ammo. It hits a little bit harder, which can help in late game gunfights. If you see one in a crate, snap it up.
Designated Marksman Rifles (DMRs) are accurate weapons that you should give to whoever in your squad shoots the most accurately. With the right scope, they will turn into headshot machines perfect for quick kills in the late game.
- The Mini-14 is a teeny tiny marksman rifle that fires 5.56 ammo. It boasts a very high initial bullet velocity that hit enemies quickly. Some people call it a “laser beam” because of that increased speed. It’s fairly common and a great choice for anyone looking to tag enemies on the run.
- The SKS is another useful marksman rifle that uses 7.62 ammo. It’s very strong but has a slightly higher than average recoil that makes it a bit difficult to do follow up shots. The magazine’s a bit small, only holding 10 rounds. It’s a skill dependent rifle that hits like a truck if you land your shots.
- The Mk14 EBR is an airdrop exclusive rifle that uses 7.62 ammo. It’s a flat upgrade to the SKS and has a bipod for extra stability. You can also fire in full auto with the Mk14 which can be useful for close ranges or damaging vehicles.
They’re big, they’re loud, they barf up bullets in big ass bursts. Shotguns are an essential part of any loadout that are great for sweeping houses or dealing with enemies in close ranges such as when the play area shrinks. All shotguns use 12 gauge ammo.
- The S12K is a semi-automatic shotgun that’s particularly good for clearing out small houses and hideouts. The recoil is very hard to control but the increases fire rate is great for disposing multiple enemies quickly. Highly situational, the S12K should be replaced with a different shotgun once found.
- The S1897, a pump action that fires a little bit slower but still hits hard. Think of it as the “normal” shotgun. It’s very useful as secondary weapon complementing rifles and submachine guns.
- The S686 double barrel shotgun is my personal recommendation if you can find it. It only holds two shells at a time but if you equip it with a shotgun choke it is a highly accurate and power weapon that will knock out most enemies in one shot.
- The sawed-off is technically a sidearm that takes up the same slot as a pistol. It’s difficult to use outside of extreme close range and only useful in the early game when players are scrambling for weapons. Avoid it unless you’re desperate.
Submachine Guns split the difference close and mid-range combat. The fire fast but lack the punch of a rifle or DMR. Submachine guns work best as secondary weapons but are still a solid primary choice in the early game.
- The UMP9 is the cream of the crop for submachine guns. It uses 9mm rounds, which are plentiful and has three fire modes: auto, semi-auto, and burst fire. It’s not the hardest hitter but is a very versatile weapon that’s worth grabbing if you find it.
- The Vector is an extremely compact submachine gun that fires .45 ACP. It has a high rate of fire and is very easy to control but comes with a tiny 13 round magazine. You’ll want to grab an extended magazine modification to make this work. It’s good early on but quickly eclipsed by other options.
- The Micro-Uzi is an itty-bitty gun that fires 9mm rounds. It spews out bullets fast but kicks a lot. It’s a close range weapon that, like the Vector, works best in the early game. Fun to use but not very practical.
- The Tommy Gun used to be an airdrop exclusive before everyone realized it sucked. It fires .45 ACP at a fast rate and can be useful in a pinch. Pick it up if you’re desperate and ditch it once you can upgrade.
These long range beauties are worth their weight in gold. Find them, toss some optics on them, and love them. Shooting an enemy from extreme range reduces risk of retaliation and, with some practice and experience, will help you rise above the competition.
- The Kar98k is bolt action sniper rifle that uses 7.62 ammo. It’s awesome and tons a ton of damage. Bullet drop can be a problem but you’ll quickly learn to adjust. If you’re worried about accuracy, aim for center mass. Unless the enemy is wearing heavy armor, you’ll down them in about two hits.
- The VSS is light sniper rifle that fires 9mm ammo. It has a built in suppressor and fires subsonically which means it’s pretty quiet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t hit that hard or shoot as far as other sniper rifles. It does have a full auto mode for when enemies get close but you’ll probably want to pick up a normal rifle before considering the VSS
- The AWM is an airdrop exclusive rifle that fires .300 Magnum rounds. If you find one in a drop, the ammo will be there as well. The AWM is a beast and has the highest hit damage in the game. It is a cannon that will knock down whatever gets in the way. Paired with a good scope, the AWM dominates. It’s loud as a bomb though, so expect to draw some attention when firing.
- The M24 is also an airdrop exclusive and used 7.62 ammo. Consider it a flat upgrade to the Kar98k. It hits harder and can be modified with quickdraw mags that speed up reload times as well as a few muzzle modifications. Snag it, customize, and then start deleting the opposition.
Pistols matter mostly in the opening moments of a round, when you might need to kill someone who dropped near you but can save you in a pinch later on as well. Here’s some suggestions:
If you’re just starting, grab the P92 or P18C over anything else. They have the largest magazines and the P18C even has a full auto mode for tight spots. The P1911 is stronger but only has seven rounds to a clip, so be careful with it. Grab it once you’re more comfortable with your aim. Avoid the R1895 and R45 unless desperate; the long reload time isn’t worth it.
Yeah. It was weird.
If you can find a scope for your gun, pick it up and toss it on there. A basic red dot sight can work wonders for submachine guns and if you’re able to grab a 4x or even 8x scope for your rifle, that’s a major edge on the competition. Carry multiple scopes and slot them in as the situation needs. Grab stocks to control recoil and look out for silencers. They’re exceedingly rare and can turn you into an absolute monster in the field.
Keep in mind that some weapons won’t take certain modifications. For instance, the M16A4 isn’t able to equip 8x scopes or foregrips. You can take a look at this chart to see what each gun can and can’t equip.
There are a few healing items in Battlegrounds. Bandages are the most basic health item and only restore a small amount of health but won’t heal above 75% of your health. First aid kits will top you off to that 75% point immediately, and med kits will completely heal you. You have to stay still to use a kit, although you can still bob back and forth a bit if you’re afraid a sniper’s headshot.
Boost items like energy drinks and painkillers heal over time and will even heal over that 75% threshold that bandages and first aid kits. Quickly consume two of these in any combination for increased movement speed.
If you find a frying pang, pick it up. It can be used as a melee weapon but also deflects bullets. It covers your player character’s butt and will occasionally save you if someone is attacking from behind.
After you’ve grabbed your weapons, you need to know where to go. If you open your map, you’ll see a large white circle. This is the playzone, and you’re going to want to eventually move inside it. As the match goes on, that zone gets smaller and a second, blue circle will appear. If you’re outside the blue circle, you’ll take damage. The blue circle moves faster and does increased damage over the course of the match, so you want to always be aware of it.
If you’re traveling in the open, hold down the alt key and move your mouse to rotate the camera without changing the direction your character is moving. This way, you can keep an eye out for enemies and trouble spots. Additionally, there is a compass at the top of the screen that can be used to call out enemy position to teammates. If you placed a marker on your map, it will show up on the compass.
Just to spice things up, the game will periodically drop a red circle on the map and begin bombarding that area with artillery fire. If you are in that zone, either rush out of the radius or hide in a building until the coast is clear.
Much more benevolently, the game will sometimes decide to drop a crate of supplies into the area from a passing plane. These contain special weapons like the powerful AWM sniper rifle or the ridiculous Tommy Gun. Gear from supply drops can help turn the tide of battle, but the drops are initially marked by a puff of fluorescent smoke. If you can see it, someone else can too. Be prepared for a firefight if you want to grab the loot.
If there is one graphic option to set as low as possible, it is foliage. Many players who think they are safe in grassy fields or wild forests are actually at the mercy of enemies who’ve turned this setting down. If you want to find folks in the open, adjust your settings. The game will look uglier but that’s a small price to pay for victory.
[Update: This has been mostly fixed with patches. I recommend it anyway for better performance and smoother gameplay.]
Battlegrounds is all about killing other people, and it can be tempting to open fire on whoever you see. If you spot an enemy, take time to assess if you can land your shot and fire only if you’re confident that you can take them down.
Holding right click will aim your weapon in third person, while tapping right click will aim down your sights. If you’re doing the latter, you can even press shift to hold your breath for more accuracy. Aim carefully and you can drop enemies with only a few shots.
Even if you don’t see an enemy, you might hear them moving around in the grass or catch some gunfire in the distance. If you’re being shot at, you’ll often hear the impact on the ground before the whizzing of the bullet. Keep your ears alert and bear in mind that the direction of the sound you hear is relative to where the camera is facing, not where your character is looking.
You can’t win if you’re dead, which means that it’s absolutely fine to hightail it from dangerous situations. If two groups of foes are fighting, let them fight. If a would-be killer is trying to sweep your house, leap off the balcony, steal their car, and ride to safety.
You don’t need to stay put to win a match. Loot some house and take off. Head for the hills and hide in some tree shade before moving to a new location. Think of it as a giant game of leapfrog. Stay active and aware.
I prefer to play Battlegrounds quickly moving from point to point, but if you find a strong position to hole up in and the circle isn’t going to close in just yet, consider taking time to hunker down and plot out an ambush. If you’re camping outside look for foliage or shade that can hide you. If you’re on the desert map of Miramar, consider resting in enfilade behind the crest of a hill or ridge.
To help with camping in Third Person matches, press the ALT key to free up the camera and rotate it behind you from time to time. It will help you spot enemies approaching from behind.
The game starts with all the doors closed; an open door means a player has been in the house. If an open door is pushed in, they might be in the house, and if it is pushed out it is probable that they left. An open house that has a single room with a closed door is a red flag: assume someone is camping in there.
Battlegrounds offers cars, buggies, and motorcycles to traverse long distances, but I suggest using them sparingly. They make a lot of noise and give away your position. They can also run out of gas, explode if shot too much, or flip over and kill you. If you are using a vehicle, make sure you come to a stop before exiting or else you might run yourself over.
A car outside a house all but assures someone is inside. Freshly spawned cars only ever face east; if it’s angled elsewhere, someone’s been driving it.
[Update: This has been fixed with a patch. Being aware of cars close to buildings will still provide clues as to enemy position. Freshly parked cars’ brakelights will still be on. If you see a car with lights on, the enemy is probably nearby.]
When you’re down to the last ten players or handful of squads, finding suitable cover will be essential. Reduce the possible angles of attack by as much as you can and try not to panic. Leave cover and push enemy positions only if you have to, and make use of tools like smoke and flash grenades to gain an advantage.
Good job. I’m proud of you.
Battlegrounds is a tense game, and if you get far, your heart is going to be pounding. Try not to get frustrated, even if you miss your shot at victory by a hair’s length. It’s just a game, and there’s always a new round to play. Take it easy and enjoy the mayhem.