Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, a battle royale game that’s got a healthy player base on Steam right now, has a steep learning curve. From the moment you jump out of a plane, you’re on your own in a hostile world with up to 99 other players gunning for the prize of being the last player (or team) standing. Here’s what you need to know to have a fighting chance.
Respect the RNG gods
You have to accept, from the outset, that there will be times when the RNG is kind, and others when it is not. The initial flight angle across the map is determined by RNG, the fighting circle is randomised, and luck plays a big part in what equipment you’ll find when you hit the ground. To improve your odds of surviving the opening minutes where RNG equipment drops play a big part, try to avoid places where other players are heading.
Alt to win
You can hold Alt while in third-person mode to activate a free-look view using your mouse. This can provide crucial intel after the plane jump (pro tip: move away from huge clusters of other descending players). Alt can also be used to keep an eye on your six when you’re running across an open field. Or you can use it to peek through windows or around corners. Use it often.
Third-person vs first-person
First-person perspective is great for lining up mid- to long-range shots, but it’s best to stick in third-person mode most of the time. Hit V to switch between the two. You can tap the right mouse button to shift between third-person and first-person aiming when you have a gun equipped. Third-person can be used to look around corners or over hills without exposing your character. You should do this as often as you can, as other players will be doing it to you, too. Hold right mouse button and tap Q or E to shift the camera shoulder positioning in third-person mode, too. In close quarters, especially when it’s a head-to-head firefight, don’t bother switching to first-person view: hold down right mouse button and fire away. When in third-person, keep an eye out for a red circle on objects near your player: this means you’ll hit that red area and not where your crosshair is. Relocate to fix this.
When you’re in the plane, tap V at any point to see how many players are still with you inside. I’d advise jumping later rather than earlier, and if you jump towards the farthest coast on the flight trajectory, you improve your odds of only dealing with enemies further inland (keep an eye out for other players during the descent, though). Shift your view to the horizon to travel farther distances while falling, or point it down at the ground and hold W to increase your descent speed. Hit 234km/h in your descent and the game will automatically pull the chute (it does this whenever you get low enough, by the way) for you when you’re lower to the ground. Also, keep an eye on the descent meter and avoid areas that introduce black onto the bottom of the meter: this means there’s high terrain below you, and your chute will open sooner, which means you’ll hit the ground later.
Your first priority on the ground is to get a gun, especially if you have enemies dropping into the same area. Pistols are common, but unless you back yourself to get headshots or come up against unarmoured opponents, you’re better off looking more. When you enter a building, you’ll start to learn the usual places where equipment randomly spawns. The equipment changes every round, but the places do not. Hit Tab when you’re near stuff and right-click it to immediately add it to your inventory. This is faster than manually looking at and picking up items. If you’re being hunted or looking to hunt a nearby player, shotguns and SMGs are great for house clearing early on, but you really want to get an assault rifle (or two, preferably with different ammo types) to have a weapon that’s versatile at all ranges. As for equipment, there are three levels of helmet, vest, and backpack, so always replace a level 1 item with 2 or 3 as you find them (unless it’s a damaged helmet or vest from a dead enemy, which may have a lower armour rating).
There’s a lot of luck that comes into play in Battlegrounds, even when you’re properly tooled up. For instance, the circle that indicates the playable space may be far away from where you start, or you may be in its centre. When entering a building, try to get into the habit of closing the external-facing doors behind you. Sound plays a big part in Battlegrounds, and you can hear when people open doors or when they’re running. Remember that sound is relative to where your camera is aiming, not the direction your avatar is facing (particularly important when you’re using Alt to free look). People also tend to treat closed doors as a sign that a building hasn’t yet been looted, so use this to your advantage (and, conversely, be cautious of buildings with open doors). Also bear in mind that you can shoot through wooden doors, so if you know someone is about to open it, ping them through it.
You can interact with your inventory while moving, which is handy for managing attachments while running. Right click is your friend when it comes to inventory management. You can right click to drop items. You can right click to collect items that are nearby. You can right click a weapon attachment to automatically place it on a relevant weapon. Hold Ctrl while clicking on an item to drop a certain amount of something, if you want to help a teammate. You should learn the ammunition requirements for the weapons you have and keep your inventory clear of stuff you don’t need. Also, most wearable equipment adds to your inventory storage.