Be the VR Operative Once Again

Espire has been a series that got my attention simply because it has been described as VR’s answer to Metal Gear Solid. While that may be the simplest way to describe it, the game does stand out on its own merit. While there are plenty of nods to the iconic series, as a game it has its own lore and story that sets it apart. The sequel continues that experience.   

Espire 2 continues the story of POE while also improving the overall gameplay experience. As a stealth action game, it hits all the right marks while truly utilizing the power of the Meta Quest 2. It also knows you like to go in guns blazing and it will accommodate for that as well. 

Welcome Back POE

Set seven years after the events of the last game, terrorism continues to plague the world. A new threat has emerged in the form of the terrorist group OPHIS. In response to this threat, the Espire program has been re-activated to counter this threat. Players will once again be put into the role of POE (the Primary Operator of Espire), who must pilot the Espire Model 1 Operative droid. 

However, it will not be easy as POE has been in a coma and the sudden return to action is affecting their psyche. Making matters worse are other forces working to undermine your mission and the security of the world. 

Ever since I interviewed the dev team back at GDC 2019, they have been admitted about how much Metal Gear Solid has influenced them. It’s no different with the sequel as so much of the scenery and the beginning borrow from the iconic series. However, the obvious influence stops there. The story itself is one that is unique as it really wants to immerse the player in the lore. There are moments that it can be predictable but not in a cliche manner. Plus the story doesn’t want to be like Metal Gear or Splinter Cell but one with its own lore. 

Planning the Infiltration 

The first title had gameplay mechanics that not took advantage of the Quest 2 hardware but also accommodated the player. Espire 2 follows this practice while also doing more to set the right experience. 

Standard gameplay is that you take command of the Espire Model 1 Operative droid while in the field. Dropped into combat, you will need to explore the world and use your tools to overcome the challenges and obstacles. You can use the world to your advantage be it to avoid detection or overcome a challenge. This time you have the choice between two versions (each with their pros and cons). This allows players to experience the same mission but in different ways.

Players will have access to a massive arsenal of weapons. This arsenal will include tranquilizers, handguns, SMG’s and classics like the shotgun. Weapons can also be collected on a mission and then added to your arsenal. Combat is a mix of either stealth through lethal or non-lethal tactics (but going in guns blazing is also an option). 

Espire 2 is an immersive experience but the level of engagement is up to the player. Players have the choice to either play while standing (utilizing Quest 2’s six degrees of freedom) or while seated (just the way I like it). Reloading your weapon can also be done realistically or with a simple button press. Difficulty can either be one that offers a challenge or one that allows you to enjoy the story. 

Finally; the game also includes a separate Co-Op experience. Set before the events of the main story, players will work together to complete their objective and uncover a sinister conspiracy. If you played the co-op mission in Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction then you will have a good idea of what to expect.

Abort the Mission!

Espire 2 is what I’ve always wanted from a VR game and it delivers. At the same time, it also has a fair share of issues that can’t be overlooked. The biggest of these are the outdated level designs, bad enemy AI, and too many moments when your weapons are locked. 

Like its predecessor, Espire 2 world also suffers from outdated level designs. They are still present in some sections of the stage. Most of this comes down to areas cluttered with set pieces (that are there just to be there) or the environment in such an unnatural manner. While not as bad when compared to the first game, it’s still present.  

When it comes to the enemy, don’t expect much from them. They are very predictable in their actions and response. Don’t go in thinking they will adapt to the situation or change their tactics. They will at times walk past a dead body like it’s nothing.

Finally, there are the moments when your weapons are locked (for dumb reasons). Even in the classic stealth action games, this has always been an annoying trope but at least it was very limited to a single section. Here, it happens more than it should and rarely is it necessary.

Be the Operative

Espire 2 embodies every element that has defined the stealth action genre while utilizing the technology of the Meta Quest 2. It hits all the right marks while also tossing in plenty of homages to the classics that inspired it. At the same time, it stands out with its own lore and style of world building. 

Disclaimer: One PR Studio provided the game used for this review.

This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.

8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Espire 2 (Meta Quest 2)




  • Builds upon the foundation of the first game.
  • Improved gameplay and combat mechanics.
  • Accommodates the player's skill set or preferred way of playing.
  • Plenty of nods to Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell.


  • Outdated level designs are still present in some stages.
  • Enemy AI is not the sharpest tool in the shed (even on a harder difficulty).
  • Moments when your weapons are locked are annoying.

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