Image: Digital Lode
Espire 2 adds new procedurally generated mixed reality missions that match your actual surroundings.
Developer Digital Lode upgraded its stealth operative game Espire 2 to take advantage of the Meta Quest 3’s improved graphics capabilities.
Since Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chip provides twice the GPU performance of the original Snapdragon XR2, the Quest 3 enjoys higher resolution displays and supports more advanced graphic effects, like fog or steam.
Of course, the Quest 3 also has a greatly improved color passthrough camera, making mixed reality gaming more convincing.
Procedurally generated mixed reality
Since Espire 2’s mixed reality missions are procedurally generated, the game uses the position of your real doors, windows, and furniture when placing virtual objects, guards, and other game elements. The types and locations may change each time you launch a mission, but still match your actual room.
To play Espire 2 in this mode, you must use Meta’s room setup to define walls and other items in your room. With the Meta Quest 3 that’s very quick. It takes longer with a Quest 2 or Quest Pro that lack depth sensors, but it’s still worth checking out this feature if you own one of these older VR headsets.
Mixed reality setup
As with most XR and AR experiences, a larger space or adjoining rooms make it more engaging. In my upstairs bedroom, I have enough space for the small MR missions, and it’s wide open with furniture at the edges, making it easy to get set up and play.
Espire 2’s large mixed reality missions require a bigger room or two connected rooms. Since the bedroom opens on a hallway, I needed another space.
Downstairs, I made a larger boundary to unlock the bigger MR missions. Unfortunately, cluttered rooms and the unusual architecture in my small home made it hard for the Quest 3 to create the needed room setup.
In my first attempt, I scanned my rooms to make a complicated donut-shaped guardian, then marked over a dozen objects manually. Espire 2 couldn’t recognize this as a room, and Meta’s First Encounters app also failed. The issue was with the Quest 3’s boundary and room setup, not Espire 2.
I simplified the room shape, cutting one room off entirely and shortening another to make an L-shaped layout that both games were satisfied with. Even so, I received a warning from Espire 2 that some MR missions were locked due to a limited space in my house.
Espire 2 MR missions
The small room missions are a great way to get familiar with the setup. The controls are just like operating my Espire drone in the main game, so it already feels familiar.
Each mission begins with finding and standing on a black floor plate with a glowing outline of feet. A panel appears with the mission briefing and a button to get started.
Then I hack into a laptop or pull a switch to open panels and start the action. I have to neutralize guards with darts or a stunner, take out robots with various firearms, while dodging lasers or using stealth to evade danger.
It’s satisfying to physically move through these challenges rather than standing in place and moving with the thumb stick. Mixed reality is a way to bring the action into a more complex environment without endangering people or objects.
The idea isn’t new, but the combination of Espire 2 and the Quest 3 improves on early attempts using the Quest 2 or Quest Pro with FPS Enhanced Reality and House Defender.
Publisher Tripwire Interactive made a nice trailer for Espire 2 that shows what’s possible with more space. I wouldn’t buy the game only for the mixed reality missions, even if I had a large home, but the VR mode is good enough to justify a purchase if you like futuristic spy/stealth games.
Espire 2’s MR missions are a nice addition to the regular missions and storyline. To see more titles with this feature, refer to our list of the best mixed reality games for the Quest 3.
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