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9 tips to help you get better at PlayerUnkown's Battlegrounds

PlayerUnkown's Battlegrounds can be an incredibly fun game, once you get past the steep learning curve. Here are nine tips to help you get started.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Your friends won't stop clamoring about PlayerUnkown's Battlegrounds (more commonly referred to as PUBG) and all the chicken dinners they've won. So you go and buy a copy of the game to see what all the fuss is about.

You queue up a match, drop from the plane onto a massive island and die within seconds of touching the soil. Frustrated, you queue again. Offed, within seconds. Drop in again. Dead. Completely irate, you quit the game and consider never playing again.

PUBG, especially when you're first starting out, can be one of the most intense, overwhelming and infuriating games you've ever played. But given some time and practice, it can be one of the most exciting and rewarding games in recent memory. Getting started, however, is especially difficult if you don't know a few basics. Here are nine tips to get you started.

Drop location is key


Pick a drop location that's far enough away from the flight path that it won't be too crowded.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Like other battle royale-style games, each PUBG match starts with 100 players dropping from a plane over an island. Based on the plane's trajectory, you must choose where to drop over the map (or get booted from the plane before it's over water again).

Choosing when to jump and where to land are crucial for a good start. If you land in a city not far from the flight path of the plane, dozens of players probably landed there as well, and you're going to be met with a ton of confrontation almost immediately. Instead, if you land in the middle of nowhere, you're going to start with little to nothing to loot and have to hoof it to the nearest town and hope it hasn't been looted or that you don't run into someone on the way.

Your best bet is to shoot for little satellite groups of houses or barns on the far reaches of the flight path of the plane. The further out you drop, the fewer people you will run into and the longer you will have to loot. The loot may not be as great or plentiful, but you'll have some peace and quiet to help ease you into the game. And unless you get lucky, it also means you're going to have to travel a lot to stay inside the play area as it shrinks.

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Don't be afraid to test busy drop points

On the flip side, if you spend all your matches dropping as far away from other players as possible, avoiding conflict and sneaking your way into the top 10, you probably won't last once you're finally met with a gunfight. Sneaking can only get you so far.

The only way you're going to learn to survive a hellacious gun battle is to throw yourself into it from time to time.

Take your time and get familiar with the controls, looting and the map. Then throw yourself into the heat of a battle by dropping into one of the major cities near the center of the map. They will be several frustrating matches, but they will be very educational and help you learn the ropes much faster.

Prioritize your looting


Don't lug around ammo for a gun you don't have.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Looting is a skill that must be learned and perfected. You have to be quick and must not dwell on one spot too long. The play area is going to start shrinking before you can find all the gear you need and you're going to have to deal with what you have.

Some games you will be over-encumbered with amazing loot. Other games, you'll find yourself struggling to find anything but a shotgun and a level one backpack.

The very first thing you should do after every drop is arm yourself. Anything will do, because you don't want to be caught in a gun battle with nothing but a pan or your fists. Once you have a gun and some ammo, look for body armor and a helmet. First aid should come next, and be sure to grab a backpack if you can find one. Upgrade your helmet, backpack and body armor if you come across a level two or three. And if your body armor or helmet get damaged, even if it's a level three, a level one replacement with no damage might provide more protection.

In your first several matches, especially those where you drop in far from the center of the map, practice getting faster and faster at looting.

Find a partner or squad to queue with


Playing as a duo or squad can help you learn the ropes faster.

Taylor Martin/CNET

I struggled quite a bit with PUBG at first. I would play three or four matches, die quickly and give up for a long time. Only to return after seeing the allure of the game. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

It wasn't until I started queueing with other players that I started to learn the way of the game. Part of what made it easier was not only that they shared the tips they learned along the way, but dropping in with a teammate or an entire squad takes some of the pressure off you. Instead of you against 100 other players, it's you and a few teammates against 25 (or so) other teams. While there are just as many people, you can loot as a team, watch each other's backs and vote on decisions on the fly.

Positioning is often better than loot

There is nothing more frustrating in PUBG than dropping in a location full of great loot (Karabiner 98 with an 8x scope, am I right?) and arming yourself to the teeth, only to die outside the play area.

You have five minutes to loot once the drop plane has left the area before the play area begins constricting. Those five minutes will pass quickly, especially when the loot is plentiful and you find yourself having to pick and choose between several great guns. If you're far from the next play area, you'll need to find a car or start running early to make it.

In this case, you have to choose between being well-equipped or constantly chasing the next play area. Sometimes, it's better to get just enough loot and put yourself in a better position to take out incoming players, rather than being on the receiving end of a sniper who's ready and waiting.

The same goes for looting the body of a person you've killed. Gunfights tend to draw lots of attention, especially toward the end of the match. If you've got enough equipment to last the rest of the game, it's best to not get greedy. Instead, post up nearby and see if someone else takes the bait. Chances are, some of your opponents didn't find the best loot at their drop and will be desperate for a decent gun, more ammo or first aids. 

This is a balance you will eventually learn.

Know when to engage and when to run


Just because you have a clear shot doesn't mean you should always take it.

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This isn't the kind of shooter where running in guns blazing pays off very often.

Just because you have an 8x scope and see a player sitting still in the distance doesn't mean you should take the shot. If you aren't positive you can get the kill, it's often better to let them pass. A missed shot will give away your location, and there might be someone watching you.

There is no shame in being selective of your battles in PUBG. And knowing when to fight and when to run will usually be the difference in making it to the top 10 and dying early.

That said, if you're hidden and see someone coming for your building, you can often startle them and catch them off guard by rushing them. If you give them the time to enter your building and they suspect someone is inside, even though you're hiding and ready, they could still get the jump on you or toss a grenade inside.

Sound is extremely important

Sound is one of your most valuable resources in PUBG. Not only can you hear footsteps of nearby players, you can hear bullet impacts and the crack of the shots, which will tell you where the shots are coming from. You can hear doors being opened, shotguns being racked and players crashing through windows.

You can learn a lot about your surroundings by just listening, so I suggest putting on headphones and cranking the volume a bit.

Conversely, you should be aware of the sounds you make. Crouching doesn't necessarily make your movements more quiet. But going barefoot sometimes can. And sneaking (holding Ctrl while crouched) will.

Zig then zag

If you're getting shot at, crouching behind an object can save your life. But if you're out in the open, it's best not to drop to prone. Run. Just don't run in a straight line. Zigzag your way to cover, be it over the nearest ridge, behind a car or anything that puts an object between you and the shooter.

Once behind cover and healed, you have to decide whether you should engage or flee.

You sprint faster without a weapon


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You'll often find yourself outside the play area, running for your life. If you're not sure you're going to make it, bandage up, drink an energy drink or take pain killers and run as fast as you can. That means putting your gun away. You'll be slower on the draw, should you come across another player. But you'll also run significantly faster. It's a risk you have to be willing to take.