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PUBG tips and tricks

Before Call of Duty: Warzone and Apex Legends broke open the genre, battle royal fans only had two popular titles to choose from. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,  or PUBG, offered a sense of realism, while Fortnite played on a cartoonlike aesthetic. No matter where your loyalties lie, every battle royal game implements the same general strategies. Loot, survive, and escape the closing circle. With seven playable maps, PUBG implements mechanics that are far more complex than those of Warzone and Fortnite. The following PUBG tips and tricks guide will aid you in your quest to be the last player standing.

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Try being aggressive to improve

While many players will instinctively play carefully, avoiding conflicts and sneaking around (especially while still learning the ropes), if you want to get better at the game, you might be better off taking a more aggressive stance. When you air-drop in bigger cities and larger settlements, try to hunt down other players, and spend time driving around the island, you will get killed more often — but you’ll also learn a lot more.

A big part of PUBG is knowing things like when and where you’re vulnerable, what weapons are most formidable in which situation (you can compare their stats on the game’s wiki), where you can expect to find vehicles or high-level weapons, and where players are likely to congregate. The only way to really get good at the game is to experience it. Hiding out in a few small, scattered buildings might let you get to the Top 10, but it won’t teach you how to win when you arrive. While you might be a more cautious player by nature, it’s worth getting yourself killed a few times to learn more about how other people play the game, rather than surviving through several uneventful matches without learning anything.

Consider death to be your teacher in PUBG. You’ll go through matches quicker, but you’ll get a better sense of how to handle yourself in a fight and what to look out for. In the end, you’ll waste less time. PUBG offers no post-death information like a kill cam (although according to PlayerUnknown at E3 2017, it’s coming to the game in a future update), so getting sniped from some unseen foe teaches you nothing that makes you better. Learn by doing instead. You’ll appreciate the skills you build for later matches when you’re better equipped to sneak around and outsmart players.

Be sneaky when it counts, but don’t waste your time

In line with our previous point, even if you aren’t hunting players through towns, you’re likely a little over-worried about stealth. Especially in the early game, sneaking around can actually be counterproductive, slowing you down when you need to loot and move on to get yourself outfitted as well as you can, as quickly as you can. Plus, with players spread out across the entire island, your chances of running into anyone are somewhat lower. You want to be aware of enemies and not give away too much information, of course, but getting good gear quickly is much more important in the early going than closing every door and running around at a crouch.

Make mental notes of where you find good gear

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There are structures all over PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, but lots of them tend to yield garbage equipment, if they contain any at all. Certain locations — warehouses, industrial structures, military bases, stores — tend to have better gear, especially near towns. Better still, unique locations, such as blasted government buildings, tend to have good gear as well.

When you find particularly great stuff, check the map and note the nearby names and landmarks. The locations that tend to have good stuff often tend to see it spawn a little more often than random houses spread throughout the map. You’ll want to concentrate on starting in locations where you’re likely to get good equipment fast, and learning those locations is invaluable.

Do the same thing with cars. Note where you find freshly spawned cars every time you get in one. You’ll be glad for the knowledge in later games when you’re desperate to cover a lot of ground and don’t want to run across the whole island.

Turn down your foliage settings

Though PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds looks great at high settings — just check out our 4K screenshot gallery if you’re not convinced — better graphics don’t always mean you’re a better player. In fact, that lush greenery spread out around the island is actually a liability when your graphics are turned up. Fuller, more realistic trees, bushes and grass make it tougher to spot someone hiding inside them.

So ratchet down your foliage settings as low as they’ll go for a bit of an edge spotting players trying to hide in the undergrowth. They’ll still be afforded some cover, but anyone who thinks they can lie in a grassy field unseen will get a rude awakening when your Kar98 bullet pierces their helmet.

Learn to pick good jump destinations

In our Battlegrounds beginner’s guide, we discussed how you can use the W key and opening your parachute higher to get some fair distance from the cargo plane jump. Knowing where to jump is just as important as knowing how to jump — always make a plan for where you’re going to land and and have a backup plan to go with it, based on what you’ve learned about where good gear spawns. Check the map at the start of each match, find your preferred drop zone, and go for it (and have another spot in mind if your favored one has too many other parachutes dropping in). That little bit of preparation can help you start a match strong.

Your best results are often to pick good places as far from the line of the cargo plane’s path as you can manage. Jumping late in the plane’s flight also has the benefit of putting you away from more players, although you’ll have less time to loot than you would if you jumped early. Once you have a good feeling about locations you like for their loot, and where cars spawn, you can start picking jump zones that will have good loot and nearby vehicles right at the start of the game. That means you can quickly get across the island if the play area doesn’t favor your drop zone, and hopefully have good-enough gear to punish anyone who comes after you.

In any case, by planning your drops in better areas, you’ll almost always be better off than if you pick a small, random farmhouse settlement in the middle of nowhere.

Red Zones aren’t a death sentence

The red circles on your map indicate areas that are about to get firebombed. They’re very dangerous, forcing you to move quickly out of the way if you don’t want to blow up. That said, it’s more than possible to just run through a red zone and even survive (although the likelihood of getting a bomb to the face is pretty high), but a better strategy is just to get indoors and wait the bombing out. Any structure will shelter you from the explosions, and you can use red zones as temporary protection or to lose other players if you’re careful.

Use two-story buildings to outsmart other players

Falls can kill you, but most won’t. In fact, you can leap from the second story of a building and take zero damage, which is important information to have when making a getaway or trying to outsmart a player while fighting in an interior. (We’ve actually fallen off four-story buildings and survived, albeit with half health.) Use your ability to jump from high places to get behind other players, or bail on a fight by leaping off a balcony.

Open doors carefully

You don’t have to stand directly in front of a door to open it — stand to the side instead. This is just good practice. There’s no reason to stand in a doorway when you can just inch over to the side. Even houses you’re confident no one occupies might have a sneaky person inside waiting for you. Bounding straight through doors the second they open is just asking for a chest full of lead.

Additionally, use windows to check the insides of buildings when you find them. Closed interior doors usually mean a place hasn’t been checked by another player (although not always). The state of doors can give you a quick bit of information and help you avoid getting blasted as you enter a structure. In the reverse, closing the doors near windows can trick cautious players into wandering into an ambush.

Always look out for scopes and suppressors

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Most players go with assault rifles like the AKM and the M16A as their primary weapons, with sniper rifles in tow for taking out players without exposing themselves to danger. In either case, and with most of the other guns in the game, you’re going to need scopes. The iron sights on most guns are kind of abysmal, and since PUBG is such a big game that covers so much space, you’re going to want any help you can get in aiming at a distance.

Suppressors, too, are game-changers. When you fire a gun, everyone can hear you in a huge radius. You’ve already experienced this going through the game, hearing distant gunshots. That advertisement tells people where to go, or where not to go. Sound is an incredibly important part of finding and killing people in PUBG, and you want to make as little of it as possible. Hence, suppressors. Here’s a list of which guns you’ll find them for.

Suppressors are rare, because they cut down the distance the sound of your gun carries from hundreds of meters to a few dozen. They make you much tougher to find — which can be essential during the endgame — and often mean that your activities don’t tip off other players. I’ve ambushed three people in a row in the same place with a suppressed weapon, just because each new player through the door hadn’t heard the warning of the last person getting blown away.

Build your guns before you find them

Gathering weapons is important to defend yourself, but in each PlayerUnknown’s Battlefields game, you want know what you’re going after. Whether you want the tried-and-true assault rifle and sniper combo, or you’re more comfortable with shotguns and SMGs, you’re likely to find a lot of the gear you need for your guns before you find the guns themselves.

You already know not to pick up every piece of trash you come across as you play PUBG, but it’s worth learning what items are worth carrying around as you search for your ideal weapons. If you see scopes you like (usually of the 4x or 8x variety), extended quickdraw magazines, and other attachments you know go on your favorite weapons, snag them for later (the PUBG Wiki has a handy list). You might not find them again once you have the gun you need. You can always throw away gear you’re not using by dragging it over to the left side of the inventory screen, but when you find what you want, you’ll be set to outfit it exactly the way you like.

Attachments may seem like they’re not a big deal, but they can drastically change your weapons’ performance if you have them. For instance, the SCAR-L is kind of a pain to use when you first find it, but add on the right attachments and suddenly it’s potentially the best, most effective assault rifle in PUBG, thanks to replacing its sights and controlling its recoil. Having the right gear for your gun can make you more effective, so experiment, find what you like, and learn to look for it in your looting travels.

Use supply drops to take out other players and get great gear

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This is an easy element to miss for newer players of PUBG. Every time you hear the cargo plane fly over the island, it’s dropping a supply crate full of some of the game’s best gear. The crate parachutes down and then emits some red smoke to make it easier to find. If you can locate the crate, you can find things like the tommy gun, medkits, suppressors, and the ghillie suit, among other handy randomized items (check out the full list on the PUBG wiki).

The thing is, the crates are going to attract lots of players every time one falls. Poorly equipped players are likely to walk into a deathtrap, while well-equipped players might find themselves in position to rack up a few kills with ease. The supply crates are tough places to play in general, but seeking them out and seeing how players handle them is good for potential learning experiences. You’ll see how some players stake out the crate, what kind of fights can pop up there, and what you might do to try to take down the best loot in the game.

Don’t shoot unless you’re confident you’ll get a kill

This is probably the most essential thing you can learn while playing PUBG. Opening fire on a defenseless, oblivious target is always tempting. You’ll spend so much time in PUBG not seeing other people that the chance to finally smoke somebody and steal their gear is hard to ignore.

Fight that urge, though — the key to survival is discretion, even if you’re playing aggressively.

If you’re about to engage someone, particularly someone who hasn’t seen you, consider all the factors at play. What’s your distance? Are you hidden? Do you have cover? Do you suspect anyone else is around? Firing your gun is an explosively loud “Come kill me!” broadcast. And that’s to say nothing of the poor sap you mean to gun down.

In PUBG, guns are deadly, and an injured enemy is still extremely dangerous. You only want to fire on someone if you’re confident you’ll take them down. If they slink away or grab cover, they become stealthy death traps. If they get a bead on you, and you lose them, you’ll suddenly have to worry about slipping away yourself, without making so much noise that they’re able to take you out.

Save your strength for advantageous situations, such as ambushes in tight interiors — preferably as enemies come through doors — or long-range snipes from hidden positions. If you’re going to pull the trigger, make sure the attempt is going to be worth it.

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Phil Hornshaw
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Phil Hornshaw is an author, freelance writer and journalist living in Los Angeles. He is the co-author of The Space Hero's…
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