Sometimes changes to a game are practically invisible. Quality of life updates, stat buffs and nerfs, bug fixes; developers are constantly improving their games in ways that are seamless to the untrained eye.
Population: One’s updates, however, have been anything but invisible.
As I stand atop the highest tower in the new Metropolis section — which is certainly tall enough to rival the central tower if not surpass it — I realize just how drastically BigBox VR’s battle royale shooter has changed over the past 18 or so months. Huge sections of the once-evergreen map have been uprooted and replaced by massive new areas, including the towering castles from the Kingdom era and the western-themed canyons added in the second season of the game’s short-lived battle pass structure. For anyone that dropped off of the shooter after the first few months, parts of the map are practically unrecognizable.
Metropolis, though, is easily the most drastic change to the game’s map yet. Like other map changes, it replaces an old section of the original design, sitting where the Refinery area once was in the northeast. But the surface area of Metropolis, I’m told, is so large that BigBox VR had to extend the entire map slightly, or risk the new design encroaching on other sectors. It even has its own mode that only allows you to play within the new sector.
Despite its size, Metropolis is densely packed, dotted with multi-story apartment blocks and car parks, and actively plastered with billboards and neon signs. There’s a nod to the monolithic housing complex from 2012’s Dredd, with an open courtyard and rows and rows of balconies to repurpose as sniper nests, and you can jump into nightclubs, museums, and lecture halls for some close-quarters combat.
You can see new opportunities for combat around every corner. Computer terminals in one room make for quick cover thanks to the game’s flexible climbing system, and the street-level maze is just begging for unfortunate souls to stumble their way into a rifle’s line of sight. To counteract the complexity, there are new jump pads that instantly catapult you above the city skyline, either to reach vantage points fast or glide to safety.
It’s really impressive to see just how different and expansive Metropolis is compared to what’s come before, and BigBox VR confirmed to me that all of this will still run on the original Quest. With that said, I do have to wonder if the developer might be able to again push team sizes in the future to help accommodate the change. It’s already raised that cap to 24 players, but the map is now so large and varied that it definitely feels like there could be more to stop the game from feeling empty in areas (though, obviously, that becomes less of an issue as zones push opponents closer together).
Personally speaking, I’d also like to see more done on the visuals front. Pop: One is a herculean technical achievement given it’s running on the original Quest but, as that headset gets older and less prevalent, it’d be great to see BigBox VR push for more visual detail in the currently identikit textures and empty warehouses that populate the map right now, especially for those that play on PC.
For now, though, Population: One’s Metropolis update goes live on March 17 as a free addition to the base game. As with past changes, you can expect it to kick off a new phase of modes and updates for the game (you can see a new sword an image above), but there’s no sign that BigBox VR plans to return to any premium battle pass plans at this point. Are you going to be checking the game out? Let us know in the comments below!