Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds may be one of the most exciting online multiplayer games since Overwatch, but it also features a pretty steep learning curve. Simply put, you’re dropped into its tense, hostile world with no instructions, and an endless amount of ways to screw up. And, with 99 other folks trying to hunt you down like an animal, you’re definitely going to need all the help you can get. If you’re new to Battlegrounds and still find yourself floundering, check out these tips to get you started.

When to Jump

Playerunknown's Battlegrounds' matches start 20000 feet in the air.

Each match of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds begins with you choosing when to jump from a plane to the island arena below. And, unfortunately, there’s no “right” time to jump—though the options presented offer their own pros and cons. Jumping early (which most players seem to do at this point) means you have the opportunity to start searching for weapons, armor, and items immediately, but you also run the risk of being taken out early by the many opponents likely to be in your vicinity. That said, if you’re the first to find a good weapon, you can score some easy kills by taking out the poor saps still trying to scavenge for anything useful.

Jumping later means you’ll have much more time to yourself, so you can loot houses and other buildings to build up a pretty respectable loadout—and without running into many other players. The downside to this approach is you’ll eventually have to spend a lot of your time beating feet to a safe zone way across the map. And if you spend a good chunk of the match collecting gear in peace, the first players you’ll run into will probably have just as good of a loadout than you, making them much harder to kill.

Get to the Safe Zone

While each Battlegrounds match begins with a full island to explore, at some point, on-screen text will tell you to head to the nearest safe zone. You then have a limited number of time—indicated by a timer on the screen—to head to the white circle marked on your map. To help you head in the right direction, you may want to right-click on the map (accessed by pressing the M key) to add a waypoint and ensure you’re always traveling in the right direction. You’ll also see some red zones on the map: avoid these at all costs. Planes will begin bombing these areas, and while being in them doesn’t always equal instant death, you’re still very likely to get exploded.

Stay in Third-Person Mode

It's smart to get a good angle on the action in Playerunknown's Battlegrounds.

Playerunknown Battlegrounds features a first-person mode, and while it’s a nice addition, playing from this perspective is a good way to get yourself killed. Besides, going into first-person for aiming—basically the only time you’d ever want to jump inside your character’s head—can be done by equipping a gun and right-clicking the mouse. Being able to see your character and a fair amount of the world around them will really help you survive. And remember, you can hold in the Alt key while moving the mouse to move the camera independently from your character’s movement.

Door Strategies

Death comes quickly in Playerunknown's Battlegrounds.

Buildings can offer some great rewards in Battlegrounds, but they can also spell your doom. Typically, you’ll want to leave the door open once you enter for the first time, as other players will be less likely to enter if they think someone else has already looted the place. Though if you’re well armed and you want to be sneaky, you can always close the door and lie in wait for anyone who stumbles in looking for loot. And if you want to waste other players’ time, close doors behind you as you exit. You may not be around to witness the effects, but you can at least know you probably prevented one other player from gaining an advantage.

Sound is Vital

Sound can be your greatest ally in any Playerunknown's Battlegrounds match.

In Battlegrounds, if you see another player before hearing them first, it’s probably too late. (Unless you get the drop on them.) Really, sound stands as the best way to tell which direction your enemies are, especially when it comes to gunshots. Make sure you play with headphones on, since ignoring this aspect of the game can make you subject to some avoidable deaths, and miss out on some easy kills.

The Risks of Vehicles

Vehicles are extremely fast, but they also do a great job of giving away your position.

Vehicles can be a vital tool in Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. They’re fast and can crush players under their wheels, but they’re also incredibly loud. While vehicles serve an important purpose when players find themselves spaced out from each other, as the safe area of the map shrinks, these means of conveyance mostly function to let everyone know where you are. As with many elements of Battlegrounds, there’s no “correct” strategy, though you should base your use of vehicles on the context of the surrounding match.

Bob Mackey
Bob Mackey is Games Editor at Fandom. Since joining the games press in 2007, he's written for sites like 1UP, Joystiq, The A.V. Club, Gamasutra, USgamer, and many others. He also hosts the weekly podcasts Retronauts and Talking Simpsons. Follow him on Twitter @bobservo.