Espire 1: VR Operative Feels Like Metal Gear Solid in VR
Live out your Metal Gear fantasies in real-time with Espire 1: VR Operative.
One of the most surprising games I played at E3 2019 this year was Digital Lode’s Espire 1: VR Operative. This title puts you in the shoes of an agent who’s in control of a drone robot known as an Espire. Your role is to take on a multitude of missions, filled to the brim with enemies that need to be taken down. How you go about doing this though is totally up to you.
Espire 1: VR Operative takes a lot of inspiration from games like Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell, Hitman, and so on. It’s the VR angle that gives Espire 1 an identity all its own. Surprisingly, the VR controls are quite intuitive and literally easy to grasp. If you’ve been dreaming of a Metal Gear Solid style experience in VR, Espire 1: VR Operative delivers in every regard.
I began my mission as an Espire with some pretty standard gun training. You’re given a tiny sidearm to start that sort of acts like the same type of tranquilizer weapon Solid Snake uses. It needs to be manually loaded, which is done by pulling a lever on the back of the gun. It’s quick and easy to use. Of course, you’re able to move the bodies you take down if you’re more of the efficient and stealthy type.
You can also use a variety of weapons, all of which are easy to load and equip. I’ve had problems in the past with games that have wonky ways of equipping guns, where it’s tough to find what part of your body they’re actually attached to. Additionally, I’ve also encountered issues in the past where reloading can really break the flow of action. Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any of these issues in Espire 1. I changed from my handgun to an assault rifle with ease. In fact, guns will automatically attach to your hands once you reach out close enough to them. Using weapons reached a whole new realm of satisfaction as I peeked around corners and popped headshots on unsuspecting foes.
There are some unique features in Espire 1: VR Operative like the ability to sneak behind enemies and shout “freeze” into your microphone. This will cause them to throw their hands up and from there you can deal with them however you please. Maybe a nice blunt swing to the head with your gun, knocking them out, or a bullet if you’re the more sinister type. It felt a little silly getting into it myself at first but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t immersive.
Another cool mechanic in the game is two ball cameras that are attached to your Espire’s hands. You can use these to peak around corners without giving yourself away. Furthermore, you can use your free hand to grab one of these ball cameras and roll them down a hallway. It has a very James Bond feel to it, and I could see myself having a lot of fun with this feature as I try to finish missions faster and efficiently.
Camera movement is important in VR shooters and Espire 1: VR Operative has all the options you’d expect in this type of game. I opted for smoother movement as I like being able to feel like I’m playing a more traditional console first-person shooter. There are also different camera options for those who might get sick using VR so that’s always nice to see.
It’s worth mentioning that the version I played was on an Oculus device. I did have some time with the PS VR version but it wasn’t nearly as polished as the Oculus experience. This is definitely to be expected, but the development team assured me that they’re working on really improving the PS VR version for launch. I also had previous experience with Tripwire Interactive’s VR shooter Killing Floor: Incursion on PS VR and found that experience the be a lot of fun. I have a ton of faith that the PS VR version will turn out just as good as the others.
I couldn’t be more excited to see how Espire 1: VR Operative turns out when it launches for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PS VR later this year.