Most of you will have seen the videos online. Those crazy people who look like they could be Jedi, swinging their VR controllers around with wild abandon, killing those blocks with all the ferocity of a samurai? Those people have been playing Beat Saber for the PCVR headsets and now it's the PlayStation VR owners' chance to get in on the action.
Beat Saber is a simple game in theory while being extremely technical in its execution. You have to swing your two virtual controllers to cut through blocks as they race towards you, making sure to hit them at the right angle and with the right color blade to maximum your point scoring. There a few more obstacles, but that is the main breakdown of the game. We loved it on the Vive and the Oculus, so let's see how it fairs on the PSVR.
- Amazing Soundtrack
- Excellent motion tracking on the sabers
- Great gameplay
- An actual learning curve
- Standing on a floating platform freaks me out
- No custom songs, only DLC
Beat Saber: What you'll like
Beat Saber is, at its heart, a dance mat game. This is not to belittle it — far from it in fact. Beat Saber pushes a tried and tested formula to new heights and engages a different section of gamers with its visual cues and EDM soundtrack. Like most games like this, be it drum games, Guitar Hero, or Dance Dance Revolution, the soundtrack is a huge part of the experience. Each of the tracks in the PlayStation VR version is upbeat and energetic and each level is custom-designed for the song being played.
Every time I started a level with a new song — not all levels have new songs; sometimes it's a song you've played at 1.25x speed — it takes me a few attempts to complete because while I'm trying to win I'm also enjoying the music. I was always a big fan of dance music, drum and bass, and happy hardcore, so this music makes me very happy. You can even pick up the soundtrack at Amazon for $10 and it's well worth it.
The Gameplay itself is extremely energetic. I love to play the PSVR and work up a sweat as it gives me a chance to exercise while playing games, the best of both worlds. In fact, with Beat Saber, you may want to invest in some VR Disposable Masks as you will get sweaty fast. The game has a party mode where you pass the headset around to play and you do not want to hand over a sweaty VR headset to your friends — at least friends you want to keep.
Normally I would expect a game like this to have constant issues with tracking when using the PSVR Move Controllers. As far as VR controllers go, the PSVR ones are pretty terrible, but Beat Saber seems to handle their flaws with aplomb. I have been playing for around 7 hours at this point and I haven't felt the tracking to be a problem even once in that time. Even with the noonday sun shining into my living room, Beat Saber seems to handle with no issues. With your points being calculated by minute differences in your angle of swing,good tracking is hugely important and the Beat Saber team passed with flying colors.
One nice feature I have seen is the learning curve in Beat Saber. From the very start of the campaign, the game has slowly ramped up the difficulty instead of either throwing you in at the deep end or never offering a challenge. At about halfway through things started to get a little dicey — losing the arrows is especially vexing at high speed — but I never felt like I couldn't overcome the obstacles put in my way. The game makes you work hard for your successes and that's always a good thing in my eyes.
Stepping from normal to hard mode is a pretty big jump, however, so watch out for that. Not only does the speed of the song increase but so do the number of blocks and the complexity of their positions. Beat Saber has modifications that appear automatically in the campaign while being selectable in free play and party mode. These offer more ways to ramp up the difficulty while still making a playable game. This certainly adds to the replay value of the game which at the moment has a limited selection of games.
Beat Saber What you might not like
This may not apply to everyone, but for people like me who have a fear of falling off high things, Beat Saber offers a bit of a challenge. The game itself is fantastic, but in-game you stand on a platform suspended in midair and away from the rest of the game. It makes you feel like you are somewhere very high with a drop right in front you. This illusion makes me feel pretty sick when I am playing a lot of the time and gives me a panicky feeling when I am deep in the game and suddenly see it.
This is especially prevalent in the levels where you need to duck the incoming plasma walls. Standing up from a crouch in Beat Saber almost always makes me stumble and feel a little sick. Not great for something that takes split-second timing. This may be only a small subsection of people, though I doubt it's that small, and it could be fixed easily by attaching the player platform to the tunnel the cubes appear from.
The vertigo-inducing platform may only be a minor issue, but the potential for paid DLC is a more serious problem. In response to questions on Twitter, Beat Saber announced that due to the closed nature of the PS4 ecosystem they wouldn't be able to make the custom level editor that you see on the PCVR Headsets available. Instead, they are going to be releasing "music packs regularly."
What this means is anyone's guess. We don't know what these music packs will contain or if they are free or paid. Beat Saber did say they will let us know about that soon, but honestly, that normally means we are going to end up paying for extra music and that will not be cool.
With the PC version, you can create custom levels using unlicensed songs because it is user-generated content, but the team will have to have new music commissioned for these music packs or pay to license other music and that can get costly. They will need to recoup that cost somewhere and paid DLC seems the most likely avenue.
Beat Saber PSVR: Should you buy it?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: hell yes.
Beat Saber is an excellent addition to any PSVR library. With its excellent soundtrack and fast-paced gameplay to complement it, the game draws you in and keeps you hooked. You feel a real sense of accomplishment when you complete levels and anyone who aspires to be a Jedi will love swinging two sabers around the virtual world. It's a fantastic game and well worth the $30 they are asking for it.
5 out of 5
There is no game quite like it on PSVR. Beat Saber is now my go-to game for showing people how awesome the PlayStation truly is. Apart from the upcoming issue of the DLC Beat Saber is as close to a perfect game in it's class as I have played. Yes, it really is that good. Just don't look down.