PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds beginner's guide: frying pans, blue circles, and chicken dinners explained

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has been around for years, but it’s still drawing in new players who might need a PUBG beginner's guide. If you’re one of them (welcome, by the way!) then you might be wondering what on earth is going on. What’s the difference between all the maps? How does loot work? And why is everybody obsessed with chicken dinners? In this PUBG beginner's guide we’ll answer all those questions and more, setting you up to get your first victory.

Treat this as a basic primer and a PUBG beginner's guide covering all the core concepts, including the terminology, set-up and mechanics at play. When you’ve taken all you can from it, be sure to check out our more advanced PUBG guides for more info.

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This is a Battle Royale

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds' origins directly state the the movie/book Battle Royale as the original inspiration. Like that source, this is all about one winner. While up to 100 players can start, only one can win (or a single team, if you’re playing with friends). That’s pretty much the only rule. 

Instructions: parachute, find gun, kill people

This is the basic structure to every match. The game starts with everyone jumping out of a plane and parachuting to the ground. Once there, it’s all about scrambling around houses and buildings trying to find guns and gear to help you stay alive. That includes armour, weapons, clothes, medical supplies and more. There’s as much skill as there is luck depending on what you find. People who find a nice hat and a crowbar tend not to last as long as someone with a tactical vest and M16. 

You start with nothing and it’s up to you to fix that

Nope, nothing. Zip. Nada. Half the… let’s call it fun, is trying to find enough gear to stand a chance. You can aim for anywhere on the island when parachuting in, and where you land can make a big difference. Some areas have more guns, ammo and supplies, other will have less. So go where all the stuff is, and you’ll risk more encounters early in the game. But go where there’s less gear to avoid a clash and you risk being poorly armed for an encounter. Either way, a gun, some armour and a bag to put it all in should be top of your shopping list. 

Your best tactic early on is to avoid everyone

It might seem counter intuitive to play a competitive shooter and try not to shoot people but it’s the best way to stay alive initially in PUBG. It’s easy, early on, to hit a group, or get picked off from a distance by someone you never saw, so stay low and avoid trouble until you absolutely have to. That way everyone kills each other and by the time you have to fight you’re hopefully A), better armed, and B), have less opponents to worry about. 

The playing area shrinks over time. Say hello to the blue circle

Obviously 100 people trying to kill each other over a huge island could take a while, so the game periodically restricts the playing area with a crackling blue energy field. Early on the damage is minimal, meaning you can actually hide in this area to avoid other players. However, as the game progresses it gets more and more deadly, eventually leading to almost certain death outside of it. Okay, so it’s almost certain death inside as well, but at least you have a chance to fight back. There’s also a red circle that indicates an area is about to be shelled. If you find yourself there then get in doors fast or you run a high risk of getting blown to smithereens. 

Yes, the frying pan really does deflect bullets 

There are a few melee weapons in PUBG, like crowbars and sickles, but the frying pan is the true hero of this game. Early on in development there was an attempt to make it possible to bat away grenades with the pan like it was a tennis racket. It didn’t work, but it did make the pan able to deflect bullets. In all honestly you’ll more than likely get killed trying to do so, but it’s the ultimate own to run up to a player shooting you, bullets ricocheting away, and then kill them with a well placed wallop. 

There are now five maps available

Originally, all of PlayerUnknown’s action took place on Erangel, a large fictional Eastern European island. This is a big place - 8 x 8km - and the plane rarely flies over it in the same way twice, so there’s a lot of variety to drops and landing zones. Different areas have different characteristics as well, so there are lots of tactics to experiment with. More remote areas mean you can avoid trouble but will have difficulty finding gear and escaping the blue zone, for example. Thanks to successive updates, four new locations named Karakin, Miramar, Sanhok, and Vikendi have now been added, and you can find advice on how to survive on all five maps by following the links below:

PUBG Erangel map | PUBG Karakin map | PUBG Miramar map | PUBG Sanhok map | PUBG Vikendi map

There is no actual chicken dinner

Sorry. It’s a conceptual meal that symbolises victory. It’s also the catchphrase you’ll see if you manage to be the last player or team standing. It probably has potatoes and some sort of gravy.

Has Playerunknown's Battlegrounds whet your appetite for eliminations? Then here's a selection of awesome Battle Royale games like PUBG you should check out.

Leon Hurley
Managing editor for guides

I'm GamesRadar's Managing Editor for guides, which means I run GamesRadar's guides and tips content. I also write reviews, previews and features, largely about horror, action adventure, FPS and open world games. I previously worked on Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website.