PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds can be one of the most frustrating games.
It’s frustrating for one simple reason: the time it takes to learn and improve is directly tied to your own tolerance for the frustrations that crop up along the way.
I am not talking about lag spikes or bad hit registration. These and similar issues are definitely frustrating, but it’s your own failures that stick with you long after the game is over.
Although rounds are quick, they’re not as quick as in a Call of Duty or Battlefield game, so you often have to dedicate entire matches to learning one or two things, or mastering a single weapon. Even then, the random nature of drops, loot, and almost everything else means you don’t often get your way.
This can make it very hard to judge what went wrong, and it’s one big reason why, even among those with dozens of hours of play time, some concepts remain completely unknown.
I’ve played PUBG for over 100 hours now, and I am still learning new stuff every day. Playing a game for X hours isn’t an achievement; being a different player today than when you started is.
The knowledge and experience I have today shape the way I play in more ways than I can count. And so, I present to you a collection of my experiences so far distilled into a list.
Some of these may go against your playstyle, but you shouldn’t shy away from trying them at least once. A game like PUBG is different for everyone, and I learned to never stop taking in new information.
Get a communication and callout routine down
If you play with the same group regularly in Duos and Squads, you need to know how to communicate to each other in as few words as possible, while being as accurate as possible.
“Uhmm, I think, there’s a guy up the hill” is the worst example of a callout. Nobody knowns if you’re sure there’s a guy or not, and they have no idea what hill you’re even talking about.
“Playing a game for X hours isn’t an achievement; being a different player today than when you started is.”
Consider using an existing system or come up with your own. A good callout needs to first alert others, then quickly provide as much precise info as possible. A great example of this is “Contact! Guy up the hill 250 from me.”
If your squad struggles with compass degrees and directions, insert common language into your callout. Something like “Contact! Left side, guy going up the hill at 250” is also helpful. This rule doesn’t just apply to reporting enemies, it should carry over to the rest of your chatter.
For instance, you should avoid calling out every item you pick up. Either only call out extras, or better yet, cut the chatter entirely until everyone is done looting their buildings. People get too tunnel visioned in the looting process and it can be frustrating getting snuck up on.
A system a few of my buddies use ranks gear and medkits on a one-to-three scale, the same way the game does, with three being the highest tier. Going top to bottom, when you say “I’m two, one, two” that means you have a level two helmet, level one body armour, and a level two backpack.
Meds are the same way (full med kits don’t count since they’re rare). First aid kits are ranked highest, followed by boosts and bandages. Something like “I have three, four, and 15 meds” should get the point across.
It doesn’t matter what system you use so long as it doesn’t distract you from what matters. Spotting enemies relies as much on sound in PUBG as it does on visual contact, and cutting the chatter early on helps a lot.
A two, or even three-car strategy can be a good idea
You’ve probably heard the pro tip going around of shooting the tyres on vehicles you drive past to prevent others from using them. This tactic is sound and everything, but why go through that trouble when you can split the available cars between your teammates?
This minimises the damage an ambush would do to the squad, especially when crossing bridges. It also means the back car always has an alternate route to take in case you get jumped.
Arriving at a building from two different angles spooks anyone camping there, for one. This greatly increases your chances of pulling off a successful flank. A lot of times they’ll think they’re being attacked by two different squads.
They may not even see the second car if they’re all paying attention to one. Sometimes, I would drive a third car and lag slightly behind my squad when I have a sniper-rifle.
Someone with a Kar 98 in their second slot is useless in an ambush, especially if they also have a high-powered scope on the main weapon. It’s better to cover your team from a distance and be without support yourself for a little while than for all of you to panic jump out of a car as ambushers finish you off one by one.
This can even work in Duos, because there’s nothing people like more than a lone wolf they see approaching. They always think he’s alone, an easy kill, when in reality they haven’t spotted his buddy yet. This could be you, observing from a distance and interfering when the time is right.
Patience can sometimes pay off
I don’t mean camping around forever waiting for someone to come knocking. I am talking about being too aggressive in a firefight.
If you see someone as you’re rounding the corner, go back and take cover and wait for them to make a mistake. Chances are, they saw you too and they’re running in the open coming for you. You have the advantage in this situation, use it.
The same goes for when you’re being suppressed – but not taking damage – by someone you know isn’t close. It’s a risky move, but if you just sit still for a few seconds, they may move from their cover, even slightly, trying to find you, inadvertently giving away their location.
A little bit of patience will take you a long way in tree fights, too. We all know how comical/grating these prolonged fights can be. A good tactic is to pop out, take a shot or two, and back in.
It’s a war of attrition, but one of you will have to move sooner or later. If you’re not running from the Blue or feel that your back is exposed, let them make the bad move.
Players who stick their heads out for longer than usual almost always have a sniper-rifle
I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself, “man, this guy pokes his head and lingers for a bit each time, I bet I can take him the next time he does it.” That’s always bitten me in the butt.
Assuming you’re not playing with terrible players, only those with sniper-rifles do that long poke. The simple reason is that they don’t want to miss, seeing as they’re using bolt-action rifles. There’s also another side to this: poking your head out like that makes some opponents get the same thought I just explained above.
All they need is a tiny bit of your body exposed. You may be able to hit them a couple of times when they do that, but you’ll be giving them ample time to knock you down. Assuming of course they can hit that shot.
Strafing while firing is a bad idea
“We’ve played so many games that taught us bad habits such as strafing while firing, and got away with it for so long it became part of the way we play.”
This is one of the less obvious quirks about PUBG, and it can be easy to go hours without realising it. We’ve played so many games that taught us bad habits such as strafing while firing, and got away with it for so long it became part of the way we play.
It was this way for me. I’ve lost too many pointblank firefights I thought I’d win because I was strafing in third-person. Too many times my bullets wouldn’t hit and I would blame it on the hit-detection, which, although shoddy, wasn’t likely why I lost.
It’ll take a long time to unlearn this, but when you do, it’ll change the way you use SMGs and shotguns. You can easily test this in the lobby with a stationary target. Watch how many bullets you fired vs. how many blood splatters you saw.
You’ll even see your third-person crosshair widen so much when you move it’s no wonder all of those shots missed. In simple terms, shoot when stationary, but by all means keep strafing.
Don’t be trigger happy
In Squads and Duos, a good rule of the thumb is to never open fire the second you see an enemy. I know what you’re thinking, “this guy is taking cover on the wrong side of this wall, he’s a free shot!”
You’re probably right there, and there’s a good chance he’ll go down before he has any idea what’s going on. But he’s not alone, and his buddies will be targeting you next if they don’t use smoke and save their downed squadmate in time.
Instead, wait a few moments until you see, or at least have an idea, where the rest of the squad is. This way, you can line up shots with your teammates and easily win the fight. Just because you came up behind someone doesn’t mean they’re bad players.
This is especially true in late-game when it’s less likely to run into a full squad, which makes things easier for you if you’re willing to wait it out for just a couple of seconds.
Accept that cars are death traps and treat them accordingly
Cars have a bad reputation in PUBG. Part of that is because of latency, rubber banding and out-of-sync animations that ruin drive-by shootings and other Mad Max-style encounters.
The bigger problem is that cars announce your presence a mile away, and they don’t protect you if someone lines up a shot as they see you coming. As such, don’t expect too much from these flimsy, fickle boxes.
You can use cars to travel quickly, of course, but you should really avoid things like slowly taking them up a hill, or sitting in them for a bit as you discuss your next move. Someone is probably watching this unfold and they’re about to light you up.
You should also keep these tips in mind to make riding in cars less frustrating:
- Let off the gas as you’re descending after a bump or a big jump to stop the car from flipping.
- It’s very hard to hit the driver of the buggy through the back.
- Only try to run people over you think you’ll hit.
- Most of all, in Squads and Duos, let your squad know when you’re about to stop so that nobody jumps early thinking you’re about to stop, taking damage. It can be hard to judge the speed of cars and PUBG hands out damage like candy.
Pick your air drops, not everything is worth going for
If you’re close enough to an air drop and you can see it landing in an open field, it’s probably best to avoid it and keep moving.
A lot of the time an air drop is more trouble than it’s worth, but this is especially true for ones that pick the most open spots. There’s a 90 percent chance someone is watching you run up to it and will pick you off from a distance.
If you really must go for one, wait until someone else has looted it and kill them. It’s a potentially riskier move if the crate had an M24 or AWM, but it’s better than running into people’s crosshairs trying to loot it. You could also try circling around with a car first to see if anyone else is around. If it looks too hot, bail out.
Being mindful of the what’s around the drop means you’re in better control of the outcome. Well, in as much control as you can considering how coveted drops are.
Throwing a grenade into buildings is a good way to clear them
Late-game, when there aren’t that many buildings left and you suspect someone is in the building you’re about to enter, use a grenade to clear it out. People like to camp in upper floors to get a good view around them, so there’s a better chance they’re all upstairs.
At worst, a bad grenade throw will get people moving, exposing them in some way through sound or visuals. At best, you’ll nail somebody and you’ll potentially have the upper hand in the fight. A lot of people hoard grenades and die without ever using any of them.
Using grenades as enemy-detectors is a cheeky tactic, I’ll admit, but nothing too out there for PUBG. Also, if you don’t know this already, right clicking before you throw a grenade will do an underhand throw.
Learn the common landmarks and their names
If you’re going to be playing this game for long, you should familiarise yourself with the common names for all the hottest spots on the map, as well as their loot properties. Many of the places with good loot don’t have names on top of them, but they’re most certainly known by one name or another to the community.
The next time someone says “we’re dropping ruins”, you should know they’re talking about the area north-west of Rozhok, not the ruins on top of Stalber. The same goes for other landmarks such as the school, crater, bunkers and so on. None of these are spelled out on the map.
There’s a lot of luck involved in the early game of who gets to what gun first, so if you know where you’re dropping as soon as you see the flight path, it’ll mean reaching the ground faster.