I was particularly intrigued to see how well Population One works on the Quest 2’s mobile hardware, so I made that my vehicle of choice during my demo. An offline training session helps you learn the basic elements of the game: you climb surfaces by holding your virtual hands through them, and moving your controllers hand over hand. It’s like climbing a ladder in real life, except you can do it just about anywhere. You heal by virtually peeling a banana or popping a can of soda. Reviving players involves rapidly rubbing two defibrillator paddles together. And weapons require manual reloading, which adds to the immersion during heated firefights.
Thankfully, Population One doesn’t try to mimic Fortnite’s vast construction features. Instead, you can build simple walls to serve as cover, or bridges to cross chasms. You find building materials throughout the map, alongside guns, ammo and shields, so you don’t have to spend any time farming resources.
Given the Quest 2’s limited mobile hardware, and the fact that Population One also needs to work with last year’s slower model, Population One isn’t exactly a pretty experience. The environment feels sparse and textures don’t have much detail. You’ll have more graphical flourishes if you’re playing on a PC VR headset. But what matters more is that the game ran smoothly on the Quest 2, with no framerate hiccups or slowdown that would make you queasy in VR. I didn’t feel much network lag either, which was surprising since I was playing in my basement, one floor away from my router.