There are a number of important game mechanics that can aid or complicate the match for the currently surviving characters.
Each match starts above the zone with all characters in a helicopter flying across, ready to parachute down. Players can choose when to jump or wait until they are forced out before the helicopter leaves the zone.
The character's parachute will open automatically once the altitude is low enough, but players can choose to deploy their parachute earlier. This is useful to stay airborne longer when players wish to land at a distant point, but for closer destinations, waiting for automatic deployment is probably best as it makes for an earlier landing.
At the more unique locations on the map, mutated wolves tend to be patrolling right at the very beginning of the map, making landings there risky as characters jump with no weapons or gear. They can also be found later in the match, typically in sections of the map near adrenaline and radiation hazards. Wolves are fast and leap at aggressively characters to attack, inflicting considerable damage to any character failing to dodge as they continue past, making them a grave threat to unarmed or injured characters.
Radiation damage is particularly dangerous because it applies a debuff that prevents a portion of a character's health from normal regeneration. The affected portion of the character's health is shown by red diagonal stripes at the right of the health bar, and this portion will increase as the character takes additional radiation damage. It can only be healed by consumables that specifically heal radiation damage such as antirad, medkits, and vodka.
Sources of radiation damage include adrenaline hazards, radiation hazards, and anomalies.
Hazards or infections
As the match wears on, large square sections of the map will become increasingly hazardous.
The first step is an "adrenaline hazard" or "adrenaline infection." Players will receive warnings if an adrenaline hazard will cover the section of map they are in at sixty, thirty, and five seconds before. Once the adrenaline hazard hits, characters either need oxygen from an tank or must sprint to avoid damage from radiation. Adrenaline hazards are visible as glowing red dots in the air of an affected section and are marked on the minimap by diagonal red lines.
Later, with warnings at the same intervals before onset, a "radiation hazard" will cover the zone. Sprinting provides no immunity against this hazard, though oxygen will still provide protection for as long as it lasts. These are visible as glowing green dots and are marked on the minimap in solid red.
These hazards exist to shrink the battlefield as the match continues on, forcing characters to move inward in order to survive. The entire map will eventually fall to these hazards should at the match last long enough.
Before adrenaline and radiation hazards strike a map section, though, "anomalies" will begin to appear and disappear there. These manifest as clear shimmering domes and are intensely radioactive. Characters inside an anomaly for more than a split second will take severe damage unless they are wearing an oxygen tank with remaining oxygen supply. During the "heat" weather condition described below, anomalies become very difficult to see as the air itself has a shimmering effect, though careful eyes can still spot them at close enough range.
During matches, there is a five minute weather cycle that spectators choose as hazards to complicates the lives of those still surviving.
- The cycle starts with a 30 second voting period, where spectators, who are probably composed mostly of those already eliminated from the match, are offered a choice between three of the five possible hostile weather conditions.
- The weather condition that wins the vote then immediately begins and continues for two minutes and forty seconds.
- Voting begins again one minute and fifty seconds later.
- Wind: Reduces movement speed and accuracy
- Rain: Reduces vehicle handling
- Storm: Reduces movement speed, accuracy and vehicle handling
- Heat: Reduces effectiveness of food and medicine, breath duration, and anomaly visibility
- Fog: Reduces visibility
Many of the villages and towns on the map have functional jeeps available for characters to drive. Though sturdy, they do take damage from collisions and attacks. Since they lack enclosed cabins, characters driving these are still vulnerable to direct attack.
Periodically, planes will fly over the zone to drop supplies, often containing rare weapons or advanced gear. Before the plane drops the package, it begins to emit pink smoke and continues to do so for a time after it lands. Players are probably best advised to ignore planes unless they observe this smoke.
Once night falls and the map is mostly covered with adrenaline and radiation hazards, the helicopter will return to a random location and drop a rope for evacuation. A character who successfully evacuates will win the match even if other survivors remain, but attempting evacuation is extremely risky. It takes a few seconds to even begin ascending the rope, and all players receive a notification that someone is evacuating. On the rope, characters are easy targets for anyone in range, though ascending characters can still equip a weapon to shoot back. Evacuation is thus best delayed until one is as certain as possible no one else is around or until hazards make the attempt urgent. Players are well advised to consider trying to win by eliminating all other characters instead.