Forming a complete understanding of how the blue and white circles work in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is among the top three things every player needs to do.
The basic version is that the white circle always encroaches first, leaving a gap between its outer edges and the inner edges of the blue one. After some time, depending on how late or early in the round, the blue begins moving to match the white. Then the white moves again and again until the round is over.
This concept is known to most players, and should form part of your basic understanding of the whole game, but what really separates the great from the average is how they deal with the circle at each of its different stages, knowing what to do and what not to do, and when.
How PUBG’s circle works
There are a couple of quick facts you need to be aware of.
- The circle will never end in the water unless it’s a bug.
- The centre for each circle is random, and changes from one to the next. Picking a camping spot early on in what you think will always be the centre spot is foolish.
Above all, you should always plan ahead. Here’s a great primer for that, which you should read before going in to a PUBG game.
Now, if you know you’re going to be chasing the circle, make sure you have a car. If you have a car, pick up a gas can just in case. Boosts are your friend, not only because of the overshield they give where circle damage is concerned, but also because of the speed boost.
An energy drink will boost you by 40 points, whereas a Painkiller offers 60. To understand what that means, look at the slim bar above your health.
This bar is split into four segments. Having one segment will slowly heal you over time. Having two increases the healing speed. Having three makes you run faster, on top of the healing boost. Finally, four segments add an increase to the time it takes to aim down sights.
PUBG’s wall of death, in simple terms
Let’s go over the the different stages of the circles and what each stage represents.
Starting at the top, from the second you’re allowed to jump out of the plane, you have one minute 50 seconds before the first ever circle takes shape. When that happens, you’ll be able to see which parts of the map are in and which aren’t.
From that point, you have five minutes before the blue circle starts moving. Realistically, though, you have about ten minutes, because of how slow the very first blue circle encroaches on the white one. You can use this time to loot a place away from the flight path, and use a car to get back in.
Depending on where you end up when the first white circle takes shape, you may have even longer than ten minutes, or slightly shorter if you’re on the opposite side of the island.
Getting stuck outside the first blue wall is not as terrible as you might imagine. Sure, you will take damage over time (about 5HP per second), but it’s fine if you plan for it like we mentioned. If you’re looting some place far and you know you won’t be done by the time the blue shows up, take a boost or two.
The effect we’re looking for here is an overshield of sorts that will decrease the hits you take to your main health. However, one thing players often forget is that when the white reaches the blue, the damage done to those outside gets doubled. This applies to all blue circles, and it’s something you should be aware of if you know you won’t catch the blue in time. Being stuck outside the moving blue is one thing, being outside when the wall is edging the white circle is really bad.
Assuming you don’t have boosts, you can still survive the blue. Wait until your health is down to about 30-40%, and use a first aid kit. First aid kits heal you up to 75 and will effectively allow you to overpower the damage you’re taking.
The next circle moves after three minutes 20 seconds. If you spent the past few minutes running to reach blue, you should keep moving to the centre so as not to be in the same position three minutes later. Working the outside of the circle is a legit tactic, but not this early in the game.
Like the first one, getting caught outside here is also bad, but not devastating. You can still power through it with boosts and first aid kits, but the trick is to know when to use them. Ideally, you’d want to use a boost before the wall passes you.
What you should also do – when you’re inevitably hurt for being outside – is use your first aid kit tactically like we explained. Even though it may look scary, and you’ll see your health bar depleting as the first aid kit animation plays, it’s going to be worth it.
What you definitely shouldn’t do is wait until the last minute to try and come up with a plan. This applies to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in general, but it’s especially true here. The electric blue wall of death is only scary if it catches you off guard. That’s why you or someone in your squad should always be paying attention to the circle.
The third circle starts shirking three minutes 30 seconds after the second. This is the first one that’ll hit you noticeably higher. It’s not advisable to be outside it unless you really have to. The same boosts rules apply here, but the risk is obviously higher.
Circles four and five both move after two minutes, and it’s at this point you should avoid being outside at all costs. If you see someone running and you’re not inside yourself, don’t stop and shoot, keep moving. You’ll win by default if you’re ahead.
By the time circles six, seven, and eight show up, the play area will be so small that you should be extra aware of your surroundings. Circles six and seven shrink after one minute 30 seconds, and the final circle takes just one minute before it moves.
From the fourth and fifth circle onward, you should consider boosting up even if you don’t really need it, assuming you can spare it. Firefights will be concentrated and campers will inevitably have to move, so you may get caught outside for a moment because a firefight you were in took too long or any other reason.
Another thing to add is that it can sometimes be hard to figure out which circle you’re dealing with when you’re in the heat of battle. Aside from checking the timer on top of the minimap, you can sort of know from their sizes. The first shrinkage reduces the play area by 65%. This is the biggest reduction and is immediately noticeable.
If the white circle looks like it’s covering about half of the map, this is the first circle. Keep this in mind and work it out from there.