Just in time for the Summer heat up is the Population: One Locked and Loaded update, which brings three new guns, a big overhaul to the gun mechanics in the game, ranked modes, monthly events, an expanded social store, and even a UI refresh.
This follows up the incredible Metropolis update (opens in new tab) from March and is designed to add in systems that will keep players coming back regularly instead of just for big individual updates. It furthers the idea that Population: One is one of the best Quest 2 games (opens in new tab) you can buy, especially since the update is totally free for all players.
I got a sneak preview of the new update with Eric from BigBox VR last week, and here’s what you can look forward to when it goes live on June 7.
Upgraded armory and physics
Three new weapons make their debut in the Locked and Loaded update for June and add quite a bit to the game. The first is the RFB, which is a new automatic assault rifle that sits somewhere between the MK18’s burst fire and the AKM’s full-on auto. It’s also got a really nice red dot sight on it.
Next up is the FAL. It’s a single-shot assault rifle that’s highly precise. Feels a bit like a more expert’s choice version of the CX-4 and does more damage at a distance than that gun, making it an ideal choice for picking off those snipers across the map.
Last up are the dual Uzis, which are probably the most fun addition to the game since the Matadors. You’ll reload these the same way as the Matadors — that’s a flick back with your wrists to spin them — and they can be fired and reloaded independently of one another.
In addition to new guns, BigBox VR has updated the game’s gunplay mechanics to include more realistic physics — so the guns feel like they actually weigh something — and the recoil means you need to realistically lean into the gun when firing. That’s especially true for automatic weapons, in which you’ll need to lean forward just a bit in order to keep aiming accurately at the target.
Firing one-handed is strongly discouraged, which should help alleviate those irritating sessions when someone is blast firing a shotgun one-handed.
The new physics definitely took me a minute or two to get used to, but I found that my shots felt more accurate than before, especially when running around and shooting at the same time.
You’ll also feel haptics when reloading guns — something totally new to the game — and BigBox VR also added arrows to the reload hints to help new players better understand what they’re supposed to do to reload a weapon. These can be turned off in the options if you want to remove them.
The existing dampening and off-hand options are still there, so you might want to tweak them a bit to get a better feel for the new physics. If you’ve played games like The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners (opens in new tab), you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about. Weapons don’t feel nearly as heavy as they do in that game, though, so if that bothered you, don’t worry too much.
Rewards for coming back
Back at the home screen, you’ll find a refreshed UI with new elements but nothing drastically different. The biggest change is in the ready button, which now asks you which game mode you want to play after hitting ready.
BigBox also told me about the new ranked modes and monthly events, but the UI I was shown wasn’t finished and had several placeholder pieces everywhere. The basic gist of it is this: every month, players will have the chance to unlock unique in-game items and skins by just playing the game.
Show up and play a few matches per day to unlock items, or wait until closer to the end of the month and get them all in at once. It looks like monthly matches will require 40 play sessions to unlock everything, but that could change in the future.
For a bigger challenge, players will also have the chance to unlock unique rewards in the monthly ranked mode (opens in new tab), which is separate from the regular monthly rewards. These are based on your kills and placement in each Squads game you play.
Players with the highest rank will get special flight trails and all sorts of other goodies for the next month. If you lose your ranking the next month, you’ll lose that special flight trail and anything else associated with that particular tier. It’s definitely something that’ll keep players’ eyes peeled to the skies.
Lastly is the new social store, which finally lets players spend that seeker silver on stuff they care about. Any skin that could be earned in previous events, like Dapper PJ or Wheatley the scarecrow, can now be purchased by using the seeker silver you earn from friends. There are also a handful of new skins in there, including weapon skins, that should satiate players that have saved up hundreds or thousands of silver.
All in all, it’s a solid update that’s more focused on trying to keep players coming back to the game every week instead of just for the next big thing.