A few months after a big showing at E3, the highly anticipated Espire 1: VR Operative finally has a solid release date. The game will launch on all major VR platforms, including Oculus Quest, on September 24, one month after its initial August release window.
For those of you unfamiliar with Espire 1, the game aims to marry the stealth gameplay of titles like Metal Gear Solid with the immersion and freedom of virtual reality. Not only that, but Espire 1 also features a host of fancy comfort options like the “Control Theatre,” which helps to reduce motion sickness when using free locomotion. The Control Theatre essentially places a sort of cage around you when you move, and this stops players from feeling sick as often. Of course, the Control Theatre can be turned off like the rest of the game’s comfort options if you’ve already gotten your VR legs. You can see the Control Theatre and some of the game’s other features in action in the trailer below.
Espire 1 doesn’t just take the stealth formula already established by other franchises, but it expands on it with VR specific features that allow for a greater sense of immersion and control. You can hold up guards ala Metal Gear Solid, but rather than a button press, Espire 1 requires you to actually say the word “freeze.” The headset’s microphone can also be used for a number of other strategies, including drawing guards’ attention with a whistle or some other distraction.
Another aspect unique to Espire 1 is the verticality that the game’s levels are designed with. The Espire model 1 robot that players take control of is able to climb walls and objects in the environment, which can make for some interesting tactical decisions. Not having a third-person camera to help you peek around corners makes Espire 1 much tenser, and sometimes climbing to a vantage point to get the lay of the land can prove especially helpful.
Other VR titles sometimes assign button combinations to certain actions, but Espire 1 attempts to have its control scheme mimic real life as closely as possible. Crouching and taking cover are done physically with the player’s body, and the AI will react differently depending on the player’s stance, position, and other things. The shooting and reloading are also as intuitive as one would expect. Immersion is the name of the game here, and the team at Digital Lode has done an excellent job at making the gameplay feel as natural as possible.
Being inspired by games like Metal Gear Solid, Espire 1 features a full narrative-driven single-player campaign. Not much is known about the story at this point, but the premise of taking over a stealth robot remotely is interesting enough. There will also be scenario missions that task players with additional objectives, sort of like Metal Gear Solid‘s VR missions.
Right now, if you pre-order Espire 1 on Steam, you’ll get a free copy of Killing Floor: Incursion. PlayStation VR owners don’t get a free game with their pre-orders, but they at least get a 15% discount beginning August 30. Sadly, there aren’t any bonuses for the Oculus Quest, but the fact the game is coming to the platform at all alongside other VR platforms with stronger hardware powering them is good enough for me.
If you haven’t been following Espire 1, you definitely should be. This game has a lot of big ideas and the previews have been great, so it’s pretty safe to assume this game will at least be okay. Simply put, if you own a VR headset, Espire 1 should be on your radar.
Espire 1 launches on September 24 for all major VR platforms, including Oculus Quest. The game will be priced at $30.