This is the PvP chapter of the H1Z1 Survivor's Handbook. This contains the crucial information you're going to need to survive on a PvP server. While you'll still be dealing with all the regular hazards like zombies, bears, wolves, and starvation - other people are the most dangerous element in PvP servers, by far. Given the character fragility and the hard reset in H1Z1, your end can come swiftly if you don't remain vigilant at all times. Consider everything you do as if you're being watched, because you probably are.
The Three Critical Survival Elements
Critical Element #3 - Sound
Operate on radio silence if at all possible. I know a lot of people that like using the in-game VOIP, but not only does it attract zombies, players key in on it even more aggressively. If you're playing with friends, try to use a 3rd party program like Vent, TS3, Mumble, or Skype. It will save your life countless times, especially if you encounter another group of hostile people and you need to coordinate with allies without enemies hearing you. Don't be afraid to declare friendly intent if questioned (if you hestitate to respond or don't respond at all, other players will typically consider you hostile and get much more trigger-happy).
Footsteps are also extremely important, especially in close quarters. I tend to play with my SFX a little higher than in other games, just so I can pick up those footsteps. For one, you want to know when you're making any sound; but more importantly you want to hear other people coming. It will give you time to pull out the right weapon or find the right place to hide and ambush from. Footsteps can also tell you what type of ground someone is running on, helping better locate them in your immediate surroundings.
Gunshots. The make noise; lots and lots of noise. I tend to utilize a bow and arrow 90% of the time, with whatever gun I've scavenged as a secondary quick draw if I need it. They're nice for quietly dispatching zombies, and help keep your own location harder to determine. Gunshots can also inform you where someone else might be, even in very close quarters. The directional sound is currently working very well right now in H1Z1. I can usually tell exactly from which direction someone is firing at me. Keeping an eye out for muzzle flashes is also important.
Critical Element #2 - Cover & Concealment
Try to maintain these both as much as possible. For quick definitions: concealment is staying out of sight as much as possible (though not necessarily protected from gunfire), while cover is staying close to (usually behind) objects that will protect you from actually getting hit (even if they don't totally conceal you). Being inside a working vehicle is an example of cover that isn't also concealment. Hiding in a blackberry bush is an example of concealment that isn't cover.
- Use shadows and silhouettes to your advantage, as well as low-lying ground when you're out in the wilderness.
- Avoid traveling directly on roads or across open meadows if you can avoid them. You'll stand out like a sore thumb.
- Steer wide of zombies and other hostiles when you can, even though you can outrun them - they're like a glowing trail for enemy players to see which direction you're going - even if they can't see you specifically.
- Crouch is your friend. If you're running next to our standing near something that could conceal you while crouched, do it every time. It's also a nice toggle to get familiar with turning on and off.
- In the wild trees and hills are your only salvation. Trees allow you to remain standing (or crouched) to easily return fire. Hills and breaks in elevation make great places to run from enemies and use for ambush.
- In urban areas, hug tightly to walls and fence-lines to keep concealment and help cover you from gunfire (crouching when necessary).
- When searching wrecked vehicles, crouch between the open door and the vehicle body for maximum protection and concealment while you loot.
- If you're lucky enough to have a working vehicle, be cognizant of how you can use it as a barricade whenever you make stops and have to get out.
Critical Element #1 - Weapons
Bar none, this is the most impactful element of any encounter with other players. If you aren't well armed, don't go picking fights. It doesn't hurt to lay low and bounce from house to house until you start acquiring some armaments and ammunition. Additionally it's also not wise to tote around your weapons visibly if you can avoid it. You can draw them very quickly, so it's always better to look less-armed than heavily-armed - unless of course your goal is intimidation (which works extremely well if you're traveling with a group of friends).
Weapons are the sword you will live or die by. Always pick up ammunition, even if you don't have the gun for it yet (it takes up very little space). Also, if you're heavily loaded on supplies, be very selective of your weapons. It doesn't hurt to pass over a sniper rifle or pistols if you're already packing something more efficient (shotguns for close quarters, and an AR15 for mid-long range is the combo you want to run).
Differences of Note for PvP servers
Should I stay or should I go?
A critical element of PvP in H1Z1 is quick and confident decision making. If you're going to go, then go - if you're going to sit and hold, then remain resolute. Hanging around too long before bolting when things don't look right will almost certainly get you killed. Additionally, if you decide to camp someone out - then stick to it; you don't want to be the first person to move; because they're probably waiting to ambush you (with much more patience).
Also, it's typically important to stay moving. Hanging around in the same exact place all day will promise an encounter with other players that will probably shoot you on site. Though you want to be careful and committed when moving around. If you can hang around a certain area of the map and create a familiar looting-track to circle, you'll have a much better idea of who is in your area, what to expect, and where all the good hiding places are. You'll also have a much better idea of firing angles and lines-of-sight to keep in mind while moving around.
Establishing a Foothold
If you're getting to a point where you're overburdened with loot, it might be time to set yourself up a stash somewhere. Try to pick a place that is both well hidden - but not too well hidden. Players are actively looking for stashes and camps in the most well hidden areas on the map. Sometimes it works best to hide your stash in a very obscure area - even if it isn't the most well hidden. I suggest starting with a ground stash or storage crate, maybe hidden near a tree or some (non-lootable) bushes.
It makes for a great place to dump off excess supplies (and a great resupply point in the event you get killed and must start over). If your goal is to amass enough supplies to really start base-crafting, then try not to lean on your stash as a source of resupply. If you die, just keep operating independently and bringing more supplies to stow. Also, and this is very important, make sure you know you are alone when creating/accessing your stash (often the best time is as night). All it takes is one person to find it to make it useless.
Dew collectors make tons of noise and typically don't offer as much benefit as they can potentially cost you. There are enough open water sources in the world (and other people's dew collectors) to not waste time with your own. Until you can afford to armor up and defend your base, keep the footprint tiny. No buildings, no noise, no vehicles.
The Pros/Cons of Vehicles
These are a very interesting tool in PvP servers. They make for great additional armor, fast transportation, and handy supplemental storage. They also stick out like a sore thumb and make a lot of noise. You want to keep extra fuel on you whenever you can; in the event someone in another vehicle starts tailing you, it usually always turns into a war of attrition for the gas tank. One of you WILL run out first - and you don't want that person to be you. Treat sparkplugs like an ignition key. Take them out of the vehicle before you get out, that way no one can normally run off with your ride when you're looting or fighting. Also, it's generally not a good idea to use or store a vehicle near your stash. Non-wrecked vehicles outside of their spawn locations are dead giveaways to a nearby stash.
Currently the only major server event is an airdrop. These are always win-lose-lose situations. Why, you might ask? These events promise two things: other players, and lots of zombies. What they don't promise is loot. You're guaranteed to find the two things you don't want to find, and have a meager chance of coming out alive with the possibility of loot. Usually you need to be pretty well-armed to come out of these alive, and that is if you time your entrance properly and if you get lucky (not getting ganked).
The way I see it is the only things airdrops give you that you can't find elsewhere are very few and far-between, and you almost have a better chance of looting them from someone you kill in the open-world anyways. Steer clear of them unless you're packing a lot of heat and have a few buddies to ensure you all come out on top. If you happen to have a sniper rifle and it's day time, you might be able to hang around until the dust settles and pick off the final few people for a huge payday from a distance. That's about the only reason I would be anywhere near one of these if I was running around solo.
Battle Royal Servers
These are an entirely different beast and have a whole different type of play to them than a typical PvP server. I've written a more detailed guide on those here, but the one thing I will say right now is try them. Participation in Battle Royals doesn't cost anything during alpha - and it's a great way to quickly get your hands on some guns and get into the thick of combat with others. Those two things should give you a much better feel on firing and movement mechanics (where you normally wouldn't be so careless wasting ammunition in a normal PvP game).
Final Thoughts, Summary & Navigation
That about wraps up this PvP guide. As a quick summary remember the three critical survival elements to always stay conscious of: how much sound you're making, maintaining cover and concealment, and understanding your weapon situation. If you focus on those alone, you should be fine even if you ignore the rest of the advice this guide offers.
As a final parting note, I want to reiterate that players are the most dangerous element of PvP servers. You are always the prey (even when you become the hunter). So act accordingly and trust no one. Guilty until proven innocent is the way I look at it. Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six is the term we always used in the military. If you hesitate, you will die.
Quick and Dirty Starter Tips - H1Z101
Navigator's Compass & World Atlas
Crafter's Recipe & Blueprint Compendium
Scavenger's Item & Resource Locator
Official H1Z1 Links & External Information
Plots, Shots, & Airdrops: A Combatant's Scope on PvP
How to Throw Down in a Battle Royale
50 Shades of PvE: The Real Hardcore Mode of H1Z1
Base Engineering For Dummies!
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