“Population: One” review

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Courtesy of Population: One

Be the last squad standing in the new VR battle royale, “Population: One.”

Stephen Howe

When I first heard about “Population: One,” a new virtual reality battle royale game developed by BigBoxVR, I was very put off.  I thought to myself, “Battle royale in VR? This sounds super janky.” But then I decided to pay the $30 and give it a shot, and I was swiftly proven wrong.

The game plays surprisingly very well despite being VR. It took some time to adjust to the gameplay, but everything eventually felt natural. One of the main things of the game is; if you can see it, you can climb it! Whether that be a rock, a tree or a giant skyscraper. Reaching out and grabbing any surface to climb feels extremely natural, and works really well in the context of the game. At one point in the game, I was hanging off the side of the tallest tower in the map and lobbed a couple grenades down at some players below me. They didn’t expect it.

Along with being able to climb any obstacle, something unique about “Population: One” that other battle royale games don’t have, thanks to it being exclusively VR, is the gliding. Granted, games like “Fortnite” and “Call of Duty: Warzone” have a hang glider mechanic; however, unlike those games, you can have up close aerial dogfights. Extend your arms and walk off a ledge and you can glide quite a distance. Put your arms down, you drop. You can pull out your gun while you’re gliding and shoot at other players in the sky.

There are usually only 18 players in a match, which sounds small compared to other battle royales consisting of 100-150 players fighting, but it fits perfectly here. The scale of the map in virtual reality and the walking speed make encounters still frequent enough to feel like a full match with an earned victory at the end. However, I personally feel like the matches are still a bit too quick. It feels like I only have 30 seconds to fight people and heal before the danger zone starts closing in, which in my opinion is not enough time and feels like I’m on a constant run unless I happen to be in the safe zone the whole time. Hopefully BigBoxVR can improve this aspect, but I don’t mind it that much.

“Population: One” is a very strong addition to virtual reality, and offers an immersive and unique experience with a few minor nitpicks.