Espire.1 was our E3 2019 Best of Show VR Game award for good reason: it’s incredibly fun and surprisingly ambitious. I’ve played the games on multiple past occasions, including earlier this year at GDC 2019 and my demo at E3 2019 last month was an expanded version of that.
If you’ve ever played a stealth game like Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell before then you’ll get the basic concept behind Espire.1, but this time it’s delivered through the immersive means of virtual reality.
In the clip above you can get a good look at the core gameplay in Espire.1 for the most part. You’ll sneak around, avoid enemy detection, climb across metal surfaces, and generally try your best to be stealthy. You can hit a button on the side of your head (you play as a robot) to detect enemies and even use cameras on your wrists to peak around corners.
If you’re anything like me though, then eventually that all goes wrong and you’ve got to finish the level guns blazing. Luckily, the guns blaze very well. I only got to see a light submachine gun, basic pistol, and a handful of others but everything looked and sounded great.
Now my E3 2019 demo was actually an extra special treat because I got to not only play two levels on Rift S, but then immediately played one of those levels again on the Oculus Quest for a direct comparison. Other than the extremely obvious graphical differences it held up surprisingly well.
Most obviously the character models were far lower quality. Enemy models seemed lower resolution, but the animation quality was still intact. The result was that they seemed to stick out from the environment a bit more than I was expecting from the quality downgrade. Obviously this will probably change upon release because that demo was an older build.
There were some other noticeable trade-offs visually as well. Guns seemed to be missing some animations when shooting and overall you could just tell textures were lower resolution. Since this was all expected it wasn’t that off-putting and if the Quest version had been the only version I’d played I don’t think it would have bothered me much. The graphical disparity is similar to the differences between Robo Recall on Rift vs Robo Recall on Quest.
Gameplay was, as far as I could tell, identical between the two versions of the game. Tracking was never an issue on the Quest when compared to the Rift S. I could reach up to the side of my head to search for enemies just fine, aiming down the sights of a gun worked great, and reaching up to climb surfaces worked as intended as well. Considering the hardware differences, feature parity from a gameplay perspective is quite impressive.
Espire.1 is slated to release for all major VR platforms (including Quest, PSVR, and SteamVR) later this summer in August. Let us know what you think of this one down in the comments below! For more details make sure and check out the official website as well.