Beat Saber is a virtual reality rhythm game developed and published by Beat Games. It takes place in a surrealistic neon environment and features the player slicing blocks representing musical beats with a pair of contrasting-colored sabers. Following an early access release in November 2018, the game was officially released for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows on May 21, 2019, and supports most virtual reality headsets.
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Oculus Quest|
|Release||May 21, 2019|
The game includes several songs with up to five levels of difficulty, starting from Easy all the way to Expert+. The player uses VR motion controllers to wield a pair of glowing sabers, which by default are colored red and blue for left and right respectively. In each song, the game presents the player with a stream of approaching blocks, laid out in sync with the song's beats and notes, located in one of the 12 possible positions of a 4x3 grid.
The game also features the option of playing some songs in certain orientations where blocks approach from around the player. Each block varies in color, corresponding to the color of the saber that should be used to slash it. Each one may also be marked with an arrow indicating one of eight possible directions in which the block may be required to be slashed through. There are also blocks with dots instead of arrows, which players may hit in any direction. When a block is properly slashed by a saber, it is destroyed and a score is awarded, based on the length and angle of the swing and the accuracy of the cut.
In addition, there are occasionally bombs that the player should not hit, and obstacles in the form of oncoming walls that the player's head should avoid. Underneath the path where the blocks travel is a white bar that slowly fills up as the player hits notes correctly. If the player hits any note in the incorrect direction, this 'health bar' will decrease by a small bit. If the player completely misses a note, the bar will lose a larger amount. If the bar becomes completely empty, the game will end.
Since its early access stages, the game included a single-player mode as well as a party mode, which features a leaderboard with the player's names, which are entered after each song is played. Additionally, the game includes a level editor and a practice mode that allows the player to alter the song's speed, or start playing it from any point in time, and not just the beginning. Recently the game added a multiplayer mode in which anywhere between 2-5 players can play a level together, with the person with the highest score winning.
Beat Saber shipped with ten songs, but has been expanded with several downloadable content packs. Several of these include original songs, but several package are licensed songs featuring music and special stages from bands such as Imagine Dragons, Panic! at the Disco, Green Day, Linkin Park, and BTS. In addition, the community has created modifications for Beat Saber, allowing custom songs and maps.
The game was first released in early access on Microsoft Windows on May 1, 2018. The game was released on PlayStation 4 on November 20, 2018. An editor was announced for release in May 2018, which would allow for the creation of custom user songs, but it was postponed, and added in May 2019.
In March 2019, Beat Games released its first paid song pack, featuring 10 songs from electronic music record label Monstercat. "Crab Rave" was added as a free update on April Fools' day that year. On May 2, 2019, to celebrate the game's first anniversary, a prototype version created three years prior was released to the public as Beat Saber Origins. The game was fully released out of early access on PC on May 21, 2019. On January 29, 2020, the game received a free pack featuring three songs by Japanese artist Camellia.
Facebook via Oculus Studios acquired Beat Games in November 2019. The company stated that the purchase would not affect future development of Beat Saber on third-party VR platforms besides Oculus. Beat Games will continue to operate in Prague as an independent studio, although under the umbrella of Oculus Studios. The studio released the new 360-degree levels on December 14, 2019.
During its early access phase, Beat Saber received numerous positive reviews, becoming the highest rated game on Steam less than a week after its early access release. The game sold over a million copies by March 2019. By February 2021, the game has sold over 4 million copies and 40 million songs have been sold through paid DLC.
Edge thought the game was an excellent fit for VR as a medium, writing "At this point in virtual reality's development, it's still rare to encounter a game that feels native to the technology. Beat Saber is an exception."IGN noted that while the game "doesn't push the limits of [VR tech] too far", the game is extremely effective at communicating the appeal of VR, and considered the game "a go-to for introducing anyone to virtual reality."Gamespot noted that at launch the supported song library was "slim", but nevertheless concluded that "Beat Saber is an exhilarating rush and an exhausting game to play in the best way."
Beat Saber has grown a strong following since its debut, and users have created numerous mods to enhance the game. Also, a number of websites have surfaced, where users distribute beat maps they created themselves, some of them even allowing for this content to be sideloaded onto the Oculus Quest.
|2018||The Game Awards 2018||Best VR/AR Game||Nominated|||
|Gamers' Choice Awards||Fan Favorite VR Game||Won|||
|2019||D.I.C.E. Awards||Immersive Reality Technical Achievement||Nominated|||
|Immersive Reality Game of the Year||Won|
|SXSW Gaming Awards||Excellence in Gameplay||Nominated|||
|Most Promising New Intellectual Property||Won|
|Trending Game of the Year||Nominated|
|VR Game of the Year||Won|
|Game Developers Choice Awards||Best VR/AR Game||Won|||
|15th British Academy Games Awards||Debut Game||Nominated|||
|Golden Joystick Awards||Best VR/AR Game||Won|||
|The Game Awards 2019||Won|||
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