- System: Oculus Quest, PSVR, Oculus Rift S / CV1, Valve Index, HTC Vive / Vive Pro, Windows Mixed Reality
- Publisher: Tripwire
- Developer: Digital Lode
- Release Date: August 2019
- Genre: Stealth, Action, FPS, VR
VR wasn’t huge at E3 this year like it was in 2018, but we still managed to get our hands on one revolutionary stealth action virtual reality espionage game that puts you right in the action basically playing a VR version of Metal Gear!—Espire 1: VR Operative. Come in guns blazing or finish the whole game without being seen or having to kill anybody, you can do either! There are a ton of other things about Espire 1: VR Operative that put it on our VR must-haves list. Read on about our experience with it and the Espire 1: VR Operative team at E3!
About Espire 1: VR Operative
In Espire 1: VR Operative, you play the first VR Operative, a spy who can pilot a cyborg to complete missions without endangering human lives. Espire 1 is a single-player story-driven VR experience, with a focus on Stealth infiltrations and espionage. The story mode is a series of 15 objective-based missions and also features 100 scenario missions—competitive challenges that reuse the story environments in new ways. The game mechanics allow for full interaction with the game environment while minimizing motion sickness, which was something the creators set out to achieve in this game.
No More Motion Sickness. Everyone Can Play!
While talking with the Tripwire team, they mentioned enjoying games like the aforementioned grandfather of stealth action, Metal Gear, and wanting to make a game with similar mechanics and stealth but in VR. They also wanted to get past the motion sickness issue that many people face when attempting to experience virtual reality, especially because the immersion in Espire 1: VR Operative is so good that it actually feels like you’re climbing walls or hanging from pipes! Not good for those who get motion sickness easily.
Well, fear no longer! Espire 1 has been developed to allow players to move anywhere within their virtual environment while minimizing motion sickness. The way they do that is very meta. You are basically controlling a character who is controlling an android; the android is out on a mission and your character, the VR Operative soldier, is piloting it while standing in a clearly defined area which is basically the area around you. Not only does it reduce motion sickness, it saves you from accidentally knocking something over! Huge props to the development team for that! That means more people will be able to experience Espire 1: VR Operative!
VR Stealth at Its Best
Espire 1 brings the stealth genre to Virtual Reality, delivering exciting gameplay mechanics for the stealth and action genres that have yet to be explored. Actually crouching to hide behind something when enemies are near, throwing a magazine to mislead an opponent and get through, hanging from metal pipes, running across the ceiling; these are only a few of the things that we got to try in the Espire 1 demo at E3. Using the controller triggers to grab and the buttons and joystics for forward movement (remember you’re still the guy in a box moving the android!) made climbing this easy with the magnetic enhancement that allows you to climb virtually anything. And indeed, the first thing I thought when I crawled on the rafters to land stealthily on a guard and end him and his partner was “Oh my gosh, it’s like I’m Snake!”
Intuitive and Natural for a More Immersive Experience.
The Espire is made to your proportions so gameplay is intuitive and feels very natural. While you don’t actually walk around yourself—you use the joystick for that—you can control crouching, ducking, punching, grabbing, climbing, and many other things by moving your body and/or hands (or buttons if you don’t want to). It’s a great feeling to come up quietly behind someone and just closing your fist and Bam! Knocked out! And if you’re close enough to the guy you knocked out, you can grab the body and hide it so nobody suspects there's a spy in their midst. Oh yeah, by the way…
Realistic Mechanics and Suspicion Meter
The whole point of Espire 1: VR Operative is to complete your missions without being detected or at least staying mostly concealed since if you don’t, you’ll get swarmed by enemies and likely killed. Now, as mentioned before, you could just go in guns blazing and not giving any Fs some of the time, but you’ll still have to be stealthy every now and then. This is where the suspicion gauge comes in! Depending on where you are, what you’re doing, how much noise you make, how close you are to your enemies, and how much evidence you leave behind, enemies and targets will become suspicious that something’s not right. Since you’re not supposed to set off any alarms, it behooves you to be aware of where enemies are (which you can check by looking through walls). And for goodness sake, be careful about who you knock out and where you leave them! Have you no manners?
Voice Control, Weapons, and Gadgets
As if everything we’ve covered wasn’t enough, you can also use voice commands to play! But enemies can hear you so be careful how and when you use it. Besides the dozens of weapons and gadgets available, the Espire comes standard with a Hand Cam, which can help you look around corners when peeking isn’t an option.
If you’re like me, you like sneaking up on people and sniping them, punching them, or somehow knocking them out with a blunt object. (Which may or may not be because my aiming skills in FPS have historically been lousy). Also, getting away without being seen is exciting and with as real as the movements and mechanics feel in Espire 1: VR Operative, it’s as exciting as hiding during a good old fashioned game of hide-and-seek!—except you can do cool acrobatics. And “you can finish it all with stealth” sounds like a challenge to me!
Digital Lode really distinguished themselves in the VR category at this year’s E3. We can’t wait to play the whole game! Looking forward to Espire 1: VR Operative? Do you usually avoid VR because of motion sickness? Will you give Espire 1: VR Operative a try? Tell us in the comments and stay tuned for more E3 game impressions!