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VR rhythm game Beat Saber swishes into early access

Hit things with your rhythm stick

My Vive, which once made me literally dance with joy, gathers dust. That's less to do with how much fun I know I'd have if I set the damn thing up, and everything to do with the faff. I've got to deal with wobbly lighthouse stands, a PC that turns off if I bump into it and the hassle of putting contact lenses in. Why contend with all of that, when there's so much I could play that's only a few mouse clicks away?

Beat Saber will make me contend with all of that. It's a VR rhythm game that equips you with two lightsabres and an urge to slice up blocks that fly at you in time to the beat, sometimes while dodging obstacles. It just came out on early access, and the devs say their goal "is to make players almost dance" - which is music to my ears.

Here's an impressively dressed woman savouring some beats.

Right now you're intrigued, perhaps looking forward to chopping up those cubes while listening to your choice of music. But wait! Beat Saber doesn't do proceduarlly generated levels, and currently only includes ones that have been crafted by the devs. There are plans to open up the level editor to the community, but no plans to write an algorithm that can automatically turn a song into slashable beats.

But double wait! That's a good thing! The main reason I'm excited to try out Beat Saber is because Audioshield, a very similar game about blocking beats rather than cutting them, is one of my favourite VR larks. It's one of Alec's, too.

As fantastic as it can be though, Audioshield only truly comes alive during particular sections of particular tracks. Those are the sections where orbs fly at me exactly in time with the music, and I enter this otherworldly flow state that feels like playing a song and being played by it at the same time.

I can't say for sure before I've tried it, but the videos I've seen of Beat Saber have me hoping that its handcrafted levels can put me in that state for almost every second I'm playing it. Audioshield can feel like dancing if you lean into it, and I can't wait to see if the same is true here.

More songs will arrive as the game makes its way to a full fledged release "before the end of 2018", along with a mode that includes "missions and challenges".

Beat Saber is available for Vives and Rifts, on Steam and the Oculus store for £15.49/$19.99/€19.99.

How did they resist the temptation to delay the launch by three days? We'll never know.

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Matt Cox


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