Digital Lode released a new Espite 1 VR Operative 1.4 update today. The update tweaks the AI and fixes some of the issues which affected the game at launch. They also improved the visuals on the Oculus Quest version. We played the game post-update and it is much improved but still has some issues with AI pathing. If you were dissuaded to try the game at launch now might be a good time to have a look. Lode are looking to add more features and tweaks early next year.
Full release notes:
This has been our core focus above all else in this release. The major improvement in this patch revolves around the enemy A.I’s perception of the player. Guards can now easily spot players if the player is standing, however, the player is far more hidden when crouched. Enemy guards also have a much harder time seeing the player when the player is high up in the rafters now. Their vertical line of sight will increase as the enemy threat level increases into combat. Regarding combat, we’ve spent a lot of time refining their combat routines so they will pose more of a challenge to the player and select better locations in the environment to take up defensive positions. We have fixed a number of A.I issues reported by players.
Gameplay / UX
Since launch, we’ve tried our very best to collect and collate all of your feedback on the game. With this patch we’ve tried to include the top user-requested features and changes to the game. We’ve always had 2 different difficulties in Espire and our core game design was: On Espire Agent difficulty (Normal mode) you play the game like a standard FPS if you want to. On VR Operative, Stealth is really your only option. We’ve listened to feedback and tried to refine the difficulty and make these options clearer to players. We have placed Tranq dart ammo magazines throughout every mission in the game. You’ll be able to find them using Espire vision. There’s now a ‘controllers’ menu that lists your controller input mapping and on platforms like Steam, it will update if you switch between Vive wands and Index controllers mid-session. Various “Espire Trials” (these unlock cheats) and mission objectives have been adjusted so they are more easier or more fun to complete.
Quest: Graphics Update!
With Patch 1.4 we’ve improved the visual quality on the Oculus Quest platform. The major improvement revolves around roughness/reflectivity. Key items in the game (hands, gadgets, weapons, etc) now have roughness and will reflect light. We’ve also improved shadow quality, mesh tri counts, and the resolution fo the game’s User Interface so it appears crisp. This has required a lot of work to ensure the game still meets it’s 72FPS target on the Oculus Quest. In Espire, you have full freedom to ‘throw’ yourself around the environment and view it from any angle while avoiding many enemy threats on-screen, XRay vision and “hand cameras’ that render the entire scene again from a unique viewpoint. These mechanics do strain the Quest a lot, but we continue to further optimize every aspect of the title and this graphics update is only the beginning.
At Digital Lode and Tripwire, we sincerely thankyou for your support of Espire and wish you a happy holiday period. We have a lot of exciting content updates planned for Espire in 2020 and can’t wait to share more info in the coming year. Your support of this title allows us to continue to develop updates and other content. We listen to people’s reviews and feedback. If you enjoy Espire, we ask you to leave a positive review, it really helps us out! You can reach us any time via our Digital Lode Discord: http://discord.gg/espire1
Full release notes for the Espire 1.4 patch:
- Adjusted the A.I. so guards have a harder time spotting the player when they’re at differing heights. For example, when the player is crouching and hiding in the ceiling, with a guard below.
- Additionally, the ability for a guard to see above and below them will increase or decrease based on the current threat level.
- Completely revised enemy sightlines. Now the player is easier to spot while standing, but much harder to detect when crouching.
- Additionally, guards that detect a standing player will lose sight of the player if the player immediately crouches and the guard is still a good distance from the player.
- Adjusted A.I. logic for when they’re in combat with the player so they better balance when to be offensive and defensive.
- Additionally, guards will be more aggressive when attacking the player in groups.
- Guards will find better locations to take cover.
- Soldiers will no longer call their PMC commander for backup while actively in combat with the player.
- Heavy guards now break holdup after 4 seconds and attempt to attack the player.
- The enemy AI has 22 states that they switch between. All have been incrementally refined for a better stealth/action experience.
- Guards will now be better about finding “safe areas” to call in backup and manhunts.
- Fixed an issue where guards do not return to their original patrol if they’ve been stunned and woken up.
- Refined Guard “Investigate” state. Guards spend more time investigating a sight/sound stimulus and will investigate a larger area
- Fixed an issue where guards would “pop back” a short distance away from the player when entering their alarmed state.
- Adjust A.I. behavior when they are shot at, but do not know where the player is.
- Guards are now able to reload and strafe simultaneously.
- Fixed an issue where Soldiers die automatically when tripping on various objects throughout the game.
- Fixed certain instances of collisionless, frozen guards.
- On Quest, fixed an issue where guards would not ragdoll when killed while using Espire Vision.
UX and UI Improvements
- The Virtual Challenge Category Selection menu now displays the amount of available challenges and completion progress for each category.
- Adjusted the wording around “VR Operative” and “Espire Agent” difficulty selection to better note that they are difficulty modifiers.
- The player will now be asked what difficulty they want to play when starting a new campaign.
- Players may now choose to play a mission on VR Operative (Hard) Mode without first playing the previous mission on VR Operative mode. Previously, you had to play each mission in-order on the hard difficulty.
- Added a “Controllers” Setting Menu item to display the controller mapping of the player’s current VR Headset.
- Playstyle badges must now be earned while playing a mission in one sitting.
- After completing a required challenge during the flashback segments, players will be shown a “challenges remaining” screen before the challenge score screen. This will let the player know how many more challenges they need to complete to advance the campaign.
- A distinct sound will now play whenever the repair tool is out of charge.
- There is now a small tutorial hologram for using Hand Cameras, zooming them in, picking them up and then throwing them. It’s in the “Hardware Engineering” area in Mission 1.1.
- The Bomb Defusal Expert Achievement in Mission 1.5 was very difficult to obtain. The player now only needs to diffuse 15 tripmines.
- The player can now successfully complete mission 1.6 even after failing the Hostage Rescue objective. Previously, this would fail the mission.
- Mounted turrets can now be destroyed with guns. The Tranquilizer pistol will have no effect on the turrets.
- Mounted turrets now have a much higher rate of fire.
- Security Cameras will now be destroyed in one shot regardless of the gun used or where they’re hit.
- Tranquilizer Magazines have been placed around all missions. They will be highlighted in blue when the player uses Espire Vision.
- Reviewed all airlocks and fixed issues with the weapon racks present when continuing from a checkpoint.
- If the player wishes to edit the “Espire Control Theater” Comfort settings, they can now have a live update of how the settings will change. They can do this by moving on the thumbstick/trackpad. This will show the Control Theatre environment, allowing you to make tweaks with a live update.
- Adjusted, improved, and added haptic feedback for various actions, such as shooting, grip/release, punching, etc.
- Every campaign map has had a lighting, enemy encounter design and “ghost playthrough” pass. We will continue to improve the ‘ghost’ experience based off player feedback.
- Change emissive lighting of repair tool to blue, not green
Quest Visual Improvements
- Add roughness / reflectivity to key 3D assets: Player’s hands, tools, weapons and bullet casings.
- Improved the visual fidelity and text resolution of the main menu and pause menu.
- Improved lighting, reflectivity, and quality of various map assets throughout the campaign.
General Bug Fixes
- Fixed an issue where the player’s own name would not appear next to their rank when using the “My Rank” button.
- Fixed instances of floating alarm tripmines.
- Fixed an issue where the hand cameras would bounce and spin before sticking to a surface.
- Occasionally, the player would lose their equipment when trying to restore a mission in progress, this has now been fixed.
- On Quest, fixed an issue where certain lights had texture errors in Mission 1.2 mess hall.
- On Quest, A gun is floating in the air in Mission 1.2 “Reech Division” mess hall
- Fixed an issue where certain NPC’s would appear frozen in cinematics after resuming a mission.
- Fixed an issue where loud beeping sound effects would erratically play when a player was near certain doors.
- Fixed an issue where Espire Instinct (Slow-mo) remains enabled after pausing the moment energy bar depletes.
- Fixed an issue where in certain situations, the E1416 rifle (rubberised version) shoots sideways when using Espire Instinct.
- Fixed an issue where Tripmines cannot be destroyed by gunfire.
- Fixed an issue where guard headlamps would float in the air when they were stunned In the Stealth Sneaking #2 virtual challenge.
- Fixed an issue in Mission 1.2 where guard bodies in the generator room would float when thrown by the player under certain conditions.
- Fixed an issue where weapons could occasionally be found floating at the feet of the player after dying and possessing a new Espire unit. They should always be at the feet of the previously defeated Espire unit.
- Fixed an issue where the Leaderboards button didn’t work at the end of Mission 1.6
- Fixed an issue where the briefing for Mission 1.1 would not play if the player attempts to play multiple different agent files in the same game session.
- Fixed an issue where leaderboards would only insert scores if the player’s score was greater than the PAR scores
- Multiple issues with NPCs on Leaflitter between platforms
- Players had issues shooting ‘through’ the frames of forklifts because the forklift collision did not accurately match its display mesh.