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PUBG will finally be a real game on Dec. 20

With a second map, the ability to hop over obstacles and optimized gameplay, 2017's smash hit is about to get even better.

PUBG Corp.

I have now logged 285 hours of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. It's the most addictive thing I've ever played. And it's not just me -- every day now, nearly 3 million people play the "Hunger Games"-like game simultaneously. This game's still in beta, but it's already sold over 24 million copies as of today. 

But that beta is about to end. On December 20, PUBG will become a fully-fledged game with its full version 1.0 release, its creators announced at The Game Awards this evening. (An early access version is also coming to Xbox on Dec. 12.)

And 1.0 is going to make the experience of surviving on a weapon-filled island a bit different, I can attest.

Version 1.0 adds vaulting -- so players are no longer blocked by waist-high barriers or windows -- as well as killcams you can play back to see how you died, revamped gunplay and scopes that makes sniping riskier, vehicles that drive more realistically and run out of gas less often, revamped sound, and a whole bunch of new weapons and UI tweaks to spice things up. 

But most importantly, it will add the game's second level (yes, PUBG sold 24 million copies with only one!): a giant desert environment called Miramar that's a far cry from the forests, hills and abandoned farms, villages and military installations of the original. 

I've played maybe a dozen hours of preview builds of version 1.0 on PUBG's test servers, and it's way more than a fresh coat of paint. My gaming PC doesn't struggle to run the game as much, cars aren't quite the same deathtraps they once were, and the big booms of incoming artillery fire (yes that's a thing) freak me the heck out. 

And while I can't tell you much about the desert map that isn't in pictures and video above or PUBG's official blog post, it's the part I'm most excited about. It looks like an entirely different environment with more verticality, more cavernous buildings and a lot more urban cover to play with.

The one thing I can't promise: Whether PUBG's servers will be able to handle the load. It can still be a pretty laggy game sometimes, even when you've got a decent internet connection.

I'll know more soon. The desert map will go live on test servers tonight at midnight PT. See you there?

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