PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds—or PUBG as it’s known by fans—is finally available on mobile. The PC, Xbox One, and now Android and iOS smash hit may have lost some ground to Epic Games’ Fortnite in the ‘great battle royale war’, but Bluehole’s sandbox kill-fest reigns supreme on Android sitting on top of the Play Store with over ten million downloads.
For those new to the game, the first thing you should know is that PUBG is all about surviving until the bitter end in a 100-person free-for-all or as a team by any means necessary. Yet whether you’re the kind of player that likes to grab the best weapons you can find and go all guns blazing, or you opt for a more stealthy approach, there are some gameplay basics that apply to everyone that enters the battlefield.
In this guide, you’ll find some essential tips and tricks that will put you ahead of the pack in PUBG mobile and help you bag those sweet, sweet chicken dinners.
Choose where to land very carefully
A game of PUBG can last as long as half an hour or, if things go horribly wrong, it can all be over in a few seconds. One surefire way of exiting early is by misjudging your initial landing spot.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to aim for the best loot spots in the game’s Erangel map (the desert map, Miramar, will launch in a future update) while also avoiding as many other players as possible. There are some particular areas that regularly spawn the best weapons and armor such as the military base, power plant, or the various major towns, but bare in mind that other seasoned players will be heading there too.
Once you’ve jumped out of the cargo plane, keep an eye out for swarms of other players heading to a single location and avoid those areas like the plague.
Likewise, don’t just aimlessly drift once you’re in freefall—pinpoint a safe enough area, preferably with buildings so you can grab some loot, and push forward to speed your way there. Buildings will show up as white blocks on the mini map, so make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
If you can’t see one you can always open your parachute early and coast over to a decent landing zone. Just be aware that every second you spend in the sky is a second your opponents will be using to scoop up loot.
Loot first, shoot later
Let me re-emphasize this one last time—if you die in PUBG you are dead. In solo play, there are no second chances, and in squads you’ll be putting your team’s chances of victory at risk if you keep getting downed early.
Once you hit the floor, your first priority is gearing up so you don’t get clipped in any initial skirmishes. You’ll find crucial loot scattered around in buildings and supply crate drops. The latter contain the most sought-after weapons like the insanely powerful AWM sniper rifle but remember you won’t be the only one hoping to grab the spoils.
The most important loot in the early stages is a half-decent weapons, ammo, and some reasonable armor, as well as a backpack upgrade (up to level 3) so you have room for better gear as you start exploring. Any gun is better than your fists or even the legendary PUBG frying pan, so grab any nearby firearms before engaging a foe.
Armor is also crucial so you can take more hits in a firefight. Like the backpack, head and body armor is graded from level 1 to 3, but level 3 armor is fairly rare. Aim for level 2 armor before picking a scrap, or level 1 at a bare minimum.
Health items are also a priority. First aid kits are preferable, but bandages, painkillers, and the like will all help in a pinch. Thrown items like grenades will become more important later on as an offensive or distraction tool once the player count has diminished, but don’t be afraid to throw an explosive surprise if you come across an unsuspecting group early on.
Only shoot when you’re in range
This is the ultimate rookie error and it’ll get you killed more than anything else in PUBG Mobile. Deciding when to hide and when to attack is a tricky balancing act, but you should never ever open fire unless you know your weapon has a chance of hitting the target.
While knowing when you’re in range will take some practice for complete newcomers, if you have any experience with PvP shooters you’ll already have a fair understanding of the basics. Shotguns (especially the awesome S12K) and SMGs are useful for up-close burst damage, assault rifles and pistols are good for mid-range fights, and sniper rifles are perfect for long distance pot shots.
Shotguns and SMGs are useful for up-close burst damage, assault rifles and pistols are good for mid-range fights, and sniper rifles are perfect for long distance pot shots.
If you’re shooting at a distant enemy with, say, the otherwise fairly strong Tommy Gun, all you’re doing is giving away your position which is a fatal mistake.
Attachments can extend the range of some weapons—assault rifles with scopes can sometimes be better than sniper rifles—but some guns are only useful in specific circumstances. Shotguns, for example, are a great tool for clearing out a building but are practically useless out in the open fields.
Where possible, try to keep complementary weapons on hand and don’t carry two weapons that fulfill the same purpose.
Keep an eye on the map
It’ll take a fair few games to learn the layout of certain areas of the PUBG map, let alone the whole thing. While you’re getting used to the landscape, make sure you’re paying attention to the mini map and keeping an eye on the diminishing play area.
In PUBG, the only safe area lies within “The Circle”. This circle will begin to shrink at select times during the match and if you find yourself outside of it for too long, you’ll eventually die.
The damage you take in this electrified blue field will increase as the circle shrinks. Early on you’ll be fine for a few minutes, while in the very final stage you won’t last more than ten seconds.
Each new circle will show on your map as a white outline, so if you watch your map you’ll always know where to go next. There’s no need to rush in the early phases, but towards the end you’ll need to get moving to avoid death while also trying to steer clear of other players who will be doing the same thing. You should always be trying to remain in cover where possible, but if you do need to move, move quickly and with purpose.
The mini map also has one final trick up its sleeve that you absolutely need to look out for—a fire indicator. If you hear gunfire in your vicinity, have a quick glance at the map and it’ll show exactly where it’s coming from.
Wheels are better than legs
Need to get somewhere fast? Then you need a vehicle, my friend.
Vehicles are littered all around Erangel but you’ll find them most commonly near the larger cities and on the main roads.
Unfortunately, while there are plenty of vehicles to go around, there’s also up to 99 other players potentially looking to get behind the wheel too, so be sure it’s safe before approaching.
The motorcycle and buggy are both great for zipping to the next play area but will leave you relatively exposed. Larger vehicles like the jeep will be slower but are great for carrying around four players with a nice amount of protection.
PUBG Mobile’s touchscreen controls can be a bit fiddly at the best of times, so you can imagine how difficult it is to deliver a lethal blow to an opponent when they’re driving straight at you. The downside, however, is the amount of attention you’ll draw thanks to those loud engines.
Hide and peek
PUBG games almost always end with a tiny group of fighters lying around on the floor hoping someone else pops their head up first. That person usually gets domed immediately, by the way, so make sure it isn’t you.
Going fully prone in PUBG is an important maneuver, so much so that it has its own dedicated button. It’s also a double-edged sword, however, as while you’ll get a nice recoil and accuracy boost and generally be a little more hidden, mobility is almost non-existent.
If someone approaches you from behind while you’re on your chest, you’re almost definitely going to end up dead—especially if you’re looking through a scope at the same time. Keep an eye on your mini map and the surroundings before hitting the floor, and don’t be afraid to flank your opponents when they’re lying down.
When out in the open, taking advantage of rocks and the sides of buildings for cover can be a much safer alternative. What PUBG doesn’t tell you is that you can actually peek around the side of cover without exposing your squishy limbs, but to do that you’ll have to take a quick trip to the Settings > Basic menu.
Simply toggle Peek & Fire to “Enable” and you’ll be able to peer around corners. Just be aware that you’re far from invulnerable when doing this, as your head will lean with you, but you’ll be a much smaller target.
One final point on controls: remap the buttons if you need to. There are three presets for both general and vehicle controls to choose from, but if you can tweak these even further by hitting the Customize option. You can move around every single aspect of the HUD to your liking, increase button sizes, and alter icon transparency, and you can also reset everything to default if you mess up.
Communicate with your squadmates
Erangel can be a very lonely place when you’re squatting in a field somewhere all alone, just waiting for a chance to strike. That all changes in duo or group play where strategic play and constant communication are key to victory.
Attacking in numbers is far safer than splitting up.
Almost every aspect of PUBG changes in co-op, be it choosing a place to land, deciding who takes what loot, picking a target, or even calling who gets to ride shotgun in a vehicle. Attacking in numbers is far safer than splitting up, but equally, you’ll need to maintain a little distance from your allies from time to time to flank opponents and hold vantage points.
Thankfully, PUBG Mobile supports native voice chat using your device’s speakers and microphone, although you will have to enable the latter in Settings > Audio. Alternatively, if you have a few buddies, you can always use voice and chat apps like Discord.
Do you have any tips and tricks to share with your fellow PUBG comrades? Fire away in the comments.