If you’re unfamiliar with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, it’s essentially the latest hugely successful battle royale game with one huge exception: it’s not total bobbins. Unlike DayZ and H1Z1, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is surprisingly polished – albeit horribly optimised – with nuanced, weighty gunplay reminiscent of the Arma series and plenty of space within its 8x8km map for players to flex their tactical muscle.
If you’re after a more basic guide, check out how not to play PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
This particular battle royale sim puts you on a plane with 99 other players, flies you over an enormous map full of large towns, military bases and humble farmsteads, and lets you choose where along the flight path you want to land. Once on the ground you’ll have to scramble together as much loot as you can find, make it to the randomly designated safe zone and duke it out with everyone else until you’re the last survivor. Knowing the map, tools of the trade, and some general tactics and tips will help you edge your way closer and closer to that esteemed Rank #1 spot – so that’s exactly what we’ve put together for you below.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds gear locations
While exact loot locations, safe zones, and the initial flight path of the spawn plane is randomised for every match, you can still make it to practically anywhere on the map before the game’s first phase is up. Here’s where to find the best gear in the game:
Sosnovka Military Base
A veritable beacon of military-grade weapons, attachments, and armour, Sosnovka Military Base is a location with a hefty amount of risk attached to its bountiful rewards. Why? Everyone knows they’re guaranteed to find something good there, and if you’re looking for some quick action to kick the match off it’s arguably the deadliest drop point on the map. To make matters more deadly, unless you’re very unlucky and the play zone lands within Sosnovka Military Base itself, you’ll have to cross one of two bridges in order to reach the mainland; snipers love bridges.
Still, Sosnovka Military Base is always good for a sniper rifle or two of your own, plenty of armour, automatic weapons, and high-power scopes to boot. There’s also usually a few vehicles dotted around the base and some in the settlements by the bridges that will help you make your escape once you’ve loaded up on gear.
If it’s decent gear you’re after and you really don’t fancy fighting for it then the archaeological site in Stalber will guarantee a solid loadout to anyone who can be bothered to make the lengthy trek there. If someone else takes the same approach as you then there’s ample supplies for two and plenty of room to hide should you wish to avoid an early fight.
Formed of two areas – a small town in the northwest and a school complex and apartment block in the southeast – Rozhok can be a tricky starting location due to its central location and popularity as a scavenging spot.
The town will only yield standard weapons such as pistols, shotguns, and assault rifles, but is a safer bet due to the high density of buildings and cover. The school is usually good for a sniper rifle or two, but is incredibly dangerous due to the number of entry points and the fact that if you do want to leave it you’ll have to contend with players watching you from the nearby apartment buildings.
An added benefit of Rozhok is that it’s in the centre of the map, meaning you can stick around there for most of the match racking up kills and gear until you need to move over to the play zone later into the match.
Lipovka military bunker
Located south of Yasnaya Polyana and west of Lipovka is a military bunker replete with weapons and armour. It’s perfect for kitting out a single player or a whole squad, with a good chance of finding a scope, a sniper, and plenty of assault rifles within it. The bunker can be a hotspot for scavengers though, so it’s often a first-come first-served gear spot – and whoever arrives late is as good as dead, so watch out for other parachutes when landing here.
Severny Firing range
To the southwest of Severny you can find a firing range, and as you might expect, it hosts a good number of military-grade weapons such as snipers and assault rifles. Chances are you won’t be alone when you arrive here, so loot fast and watch your back. On the plus side, it’s a great spot for a tense shootout.
Like Sosnovka Military Base, you’ll find everything you could possibly need in this coastal town, but be prepared to battle for it in tense urban firefights. This may not be a great spot for making it to the later stages of a match due to the sheer number of vantage points you can get sniped from, but a humble shotgun is all you’ll need to enter the fray with confidence here, making it among the most fun spots to land into. The safe zone will likely appear miles away, but Georgopol will often have three or four vehicles to pick from, which makes it a more appealing prospect than Mylta Power on the opposite side of the map.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds weapons
There are eight firearm classes as well as melee weapons and grenades in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and each variant within them has a distinct set of strengths and weaknesses that make it stand out. As it’s got plenty of Arma DNA running through it, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds does an impeccable job of making shooting realistic, and few games can match it when it comes to gunshot sounds that instill a sense of omnipotence in the person shooting and primal fear in their target.
- AKM - hard to control but incredibly effective over long distances. Fit with a scope and a compensator and you’ve got a makeshift sniper that’s handy in close-quarters too.
- SCAR-L - like the AKM, but much more rare. The SCAR-L is handy because it can be fitted with a huge number of attachments, making it a versatile find.
- M16A4 - switch this assault rifle into burst-fire mode by tapping B and you’ve got one of the best mid-range weapons in the game. The drawback? It’s not much use in tight spaces and the recoil is too high for long-range engagements.
- M416 - the best long-range assault rifle in the game, the M416 offers solid damage with virtually no recoil. It can also be kitted out with everything from high-power scopes to a tactical stock.
- Kar98K - a bolt-action war relic that’s slow to fire, not particularly damaging, and can only be used effectively with a good scope, the Kar98K is best employed for long-range headshots where a single hit will kill.
- M24 - only lootable from supply drops, the M24 is is more accurate and damaging than the Kar98K, but is a tough weapon to get hold off.
- AWM - not many guns in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds are worth the risk of looting a supply drop for, but the AWM is certainly one of them. It’s the best sniper in the game and can down targets with a single shot more often than not.
- VSS Vintorez - the VSS is unlike any other sniper rifle in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. It’s useless beyond mid-range, it’s fully automatic and silenced, it uses common 9mm ammo, and it even comes ready fitted with a scope. The VSS can down a foe in three or four shots – having a decent scope makes it easy to land every hit.
- S1897 - this pump-action shotgun is a common but surprisingly versatile PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds weapon. Because the game is relatively realistic, shotguns aren’t just effective in close-quarters shootouts, as if you attach a choke to it this becomes a mid-range monster.
- S686 - you only get two shots with this hunter-style shotgun before you have to reload, so you better make them count. Of course you’ll only need one… it really is that powerful.
- S12K - this rare shotgun is the ultimate building-clearer thanks to its fully-automatic fire mode. It’s perfect for a squad wipe.
- Micro UZI - one of the best close-quarters weapons in the game, this SMG should be kept on full-auto and used when rushing corners and camping enemies.
- UMP9 - more versatile than the UZI, the UMP9 can be used at long-range if needed, which makes it a very handy first weapon to find.
- KRISS Vector - while this rare SMG comes with a pathetic 13-round magazine, it’s one of the most lethal close-quarters weapons in the game. Getting a kill with the Vector is easy, but you’ll struggle if you’ve got multiple targets to take down. It’s absolutely useless beyond short-range.
- Tommy Gun - you can only get this gun from a supply drop but, of course, that means it brings something very special to the fight. No gun fires as quickly as the Tommy Gun. In urban combat it’s your best option.
- R1895 - while you’ll only ever want to rely on a pistol if it’s your only option, the sheer power of this revolver makes it quite the fallback.
- P92 - what the P92 lacks in stopping power it more than makes up for in accuracy.
- P1911 - this pistol takes .45 ACP rounds, which makes it lethal up close but nearly useless at range.
Bows, LMGs and DMRs
- Crossbow - you can score one-hit kills with the crossbow provided they’re not wearing a decent helmet.
- M249 - if you need to lay down lots of bullets then the M249 is ideal, which is why it’s so popular in Squad matchmaking. It’s also very difficult to find and can’t be used with any subtlety.
- SKS - bridging the gap between assault rifle and sniper, the SKS offers a long-range, semi-automatic pairing that's incredibly useful in this game. As an added benefit, it’s not too hard to find either.
- Sickle - downing an enemy with this agricultural tool will take some serious commitment.
- Machete - generally harder to find than the sickle, just as ineffective.
- Crowbar - great for Gordon Freeman cosplaying, but not much else.
- Frying pan - never mind the skillet’s terrible reach, its slapstick impact is reason enough to use it over any gun in the game. It's also capable of stopping bullets – if an enemy lands a shot on your posterior, which is covered by the frying pan if you've picked one up, it'll be blocked. You'll be treated to a tremendous metallic clang and a flash of sparks to let you know you've just been saved by some cookware.
- Molotov cocktail - a survival staple, the molotov cocktail is great at closing off corridors in buildings and does a lot of damage on a direct hit.
- Frag grenade - good for a kill in the right situation, frag grenades are great for clearing out rooms or pinning down enemies.
- Smoke grenade - you’ll want to save your smoke grenades for sticky situations; the cover they provide can save your life or the lives of your teammates.
- Stun grenade - a highly situational throwable, the stun grenade is only really useful if you don’t have a frag and have to storm a location yourself.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds tips
So you know where to land and what gear is right for you, what about the rest of the game? While we can offer some tips and tactics for claiming your first proverbial chicken dinner, it’s up to you to do the rest.
Use vehicles carefully
If a player knows where you are in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds they have a great chance of killing you. Driving around in a noisy, bulky jeep or sedan alerts everyone in the area to your presence, making it tough to then go back into hiding. If you’re going to use a car, do so to cover large amounts of ground quickly or head to the outskirt of the map for the best gear.
Patience is key
This is not a game for itchy trigger fingers or renegades – just because you can see an enemy, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should shoot them. It’s not just that you might miss or get killed by them, it’s that you don’t know who else is watching or going for the same target. If you do want to rack up the kills, then it's still wise to hold fire until you can claim a quick and easy kill.
Patience is also key if you find yourself in the middle of the map. It can be tempting after five minutes of waiting around in a bathroom to head out and look for targets, but you’ll last much longer if you play it safe and stick to your immediate surroundings.
Close those doors
Generally, you can tell if a building has been looted from whether its doors are open or closed. If they’re open you know a player has been there, taken all the gear that’s worth taking, and either left or stuck around hoping to use said gear to kill any opportunistic looters. So when you come to loot a building or use it as a vantage point, close the doors behind you in order to fool other players into thinking it’s a safe loot spot. Even if you leave a building it’s wise to shut the door behind you to waste the time of other players, giving you a solid head start.
Keep the volume high but the voice chat low
In fact, mute voice chat: it’s just racism and screaming forever and ever.
As for volume in general, you’ll want to crank it up as high as is safely possible because your ears are as useful as your eyes when it comes to staying safe and alert in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Most players run everywhere, which makes a lot of noise. Use this if you’re camping in a building so you know when it’s time to pull out the shottie. Gun shots are a reliable indicator for danger, and playing with the volume set high will allow you to hear even the most distant gunfire.
Control during freefalls
When you exit the airplane you’ll have two general options: aim downwards to land as fast as possible, or aim at the horizon and spam W as fast as possible in order to put you as far away from the flight path as possible. Which option to pick depends on how quickly you want to get into the action or what map points you might want to loot.
Use the third-person perspective in close-quarters
While aiming down sights gives you the best accuracy, if you’re fighting in buildings then the third-person view lets you see much more of your surroundings – it’s also very accurate up close. Extra tip: you can switch which shoulder you’re looking over by using Q and E.
Wear a helmet
Headshots in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds are fatal if you’re not wearing a basic helmet. With even a level one helmet equipped you can survive a headshot from all but the most powerful of weapons.
Scopes are the only mod you’ll want to pay any attention to
Even the game’s best sniper rifle is only as good as the scope that’s fitted to it, and if you’re relying on iron sights you’ve already lost. Provided you can get your hands on a 4x or 8x scope you’ll be able to hold down any building in the game. You can also use scopes to scout out buildings from a safe distance. Other attachments and gun mods are useful, but a scope is essential for any type of player in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
Play the border of the safe zone
If you’re looking to break into the top 20 players then by all means stay in the centre of the safe zone and keep your head down, but if you’re after Rank #1 then you’ll want to constantly skirt the safe zone’s border for good gear. As an added bonus, when the zone reduces to its smallest size you’ll know that your rear is safe, whereas if you were in the centre you’d have 360 degrees to cover.
That’s all the help we can offer you outside of jumping into the game alongside you and treating it as the hardest escort mission in gaming history. Got any tips of your own to share? Let us know in the comments below.