Population: ONE is the latest upcoming VR battle royale game, this time from BigBox VR, the same developers behind Smashbox Arena, which is a hybrid of dodgeball and a first-person shooter with a whimsical, bright visual style. Population: One is very much not that game.
In Population: ONE you compete against other players to be the last-man standing, as expected, but what’s unique about it compared to other VR battle royale game is just how ambitious its gameplay mechanics seem to be. You can of course run around, shoot, and even climb things like Virtual Battlegrounds and Stand Out, but you can also build things like in Fortnite and even glide around the massive one-square-kilometer map with a jetpack. It’s got a futuristic tone, which is a stark contrast to the typical post-apocalypse we’re used to seeing.
We’ve nearly reached peak battle royale saturation in the VR market and headsets haven’t even been out for three years yet. In a way, it’s kind of impressive.
The grim-dark, semi-realistic future setting is an interesting choice given BigBox VR’s prior game, but it’s kind of working for me. It looks really polished for a game that’s still in Private Beta testing and I’m eager to see how it feels to play.
On the website the developers have detailed what they call a “FreeMotion” movement system that’s been tested similar to how the UK Royal Air Force studies pilots, supposedly, but it’s unclear exactly what that means. It just says they’ve “developed advanced technologies that allow players to freely move in Virtual Reality without limits or discomfort” which sounds like something we’ve heard a time or two by now.
Another point worth noting is that the website also mentions “Single Player Missions” where you can practice your skills against AI robots and drones — something we don’t see much in the genre at all, VR or otherwise.
The real test for Population: ONE, as is the case with all multiplayer-focused VR titles, will be whether or not it can sustain its player base. Rec Room doesn’t have trouble because it’s cross-platform between PC and PSVR and is totally free and Stand Out, Pavlov, and Onward have been around for multiple years to grow their base of players. It seems to have the ambitious and creativity, we’ll just have to see if the quality of the gameplay is up to snuff too.
Population: ONE is currently accepting applications for Closed Beta testing over on the official website and is targeting a 2019 release for Rift, Vive, and Windows VR. Let us know what you think of this new challenger in the VR battle royale arena down in the comments below!