Beat Saber: New Notes on the Block

Like many, my favourite VR game is Beat Saber. The last time I checked, I had logged over 75 hours playing this lightsaber wielding, modern musical masterpiece. So, whenever a new music pack comes out, I dash to my PlayStation (I really need a Quest version) and download it. And while I’ve loved slashing blocks to Lady Gaga, Linkin Park and even BTS, nothing compares to when the Beat Saber crew put together new tracks, and more importantly, new gameplay mechanics.

With Beat Saber Soundtrack V developer Beat Games not only brings us six new tracks, but also, two new note blocks. For the first time since the original release, they are branching out from the standard blocks, bombs and obstacles. Before we get into the new mechanics, let’s take a look at those songs:

  • Schwank – $1.78
  • Ewok – Curtains (All Night Long)
  • Camellia – Final-Boss-Chan
  • Tanger – Firestarter
  • The Living Tombstone – I Want be a Machine
  • Jaroslav Beck feat. Meredith Bull – Magic

If you want to listen to the new songs in advance, you can do so right here.

Each new song feels as high energy as those which have come before, but they each feature a more euphoric tone compared to previous releases. There are more sustained notes which soar and wave, cresting up before iconic beat drops. Where past soundtrack updates seemed to focus on difficulty, this pack is establishing new gameplay mechanics, and using the music to showcase them.

There’s a reason the tracks each feature sustained notes and longer stretches of melody; ‘arc’ notes. These new notes can be spotted easily, as they use the traditional note block as a starting point. You’ll notice an arc of light emitting from the block; this connects through other notes and ends on a block of the same colour. You don’t have to follow the sweeping arc as displayed, you can wave your hands around, but for me, following the curves made everything feel more natural, more musical, and gave me a better sense of expression.

The next new note block is the ‘chain’. This block can be seen as a standard block which looks like it’s had a trip through a shredder. Beat Games is using these notes to express a rapid sequence of notes. Previously a short, staccato eight note effect would have needed eight separate note blocks in quick succession, now however, they are represented by ‘chain’ blocks. You might be thinking, ‘well, that sounds easier’ but the ‘chain’ notes curve a little like the ‘arc’ notes above, so striking them requires a bit more of a flourish from your hands.

Whenever a new pack of songs is released, I always play them on hard difficulty. It’s where I have the most fun and plenty of challenge. The addition of the two new note blocks has seemingly increased the difficulty, even though the notes feel easier to play. While the game feels that bit more difficult, it also feels completely revitalised.

Accompanying the new soundtrack, is a whole new lighting system for the stages. While this may not have a substantial impact on the playing of the game, the new effects elevate each stage, making it feel more encompassing. By the end of my play session, I wanted these new notes in every other Beat Games soundtrack pack. In fact, when the last note of the pack was played, Beat Saber felt like a whole new game.

Beat Saber Soundtrack V is out now on all platforms, and it’s completely free.