Beat Saber Review 2022: Seminal VR Title Remains As Relevant As Ever

With regular updates, DLC releases and changes to the game since launch, Beat Saber remains VR’s poster child. Read on for our updated Beat Saber review for Quest 2, PSVR and PC VR.


Years of Dominance

It’s hard to understate Beat Saber’s influence on the VR industry. It was one of the earliest success stories in VR gaming and became a catalyst for the now-oversaturated market of VR rhythm games. After launch in 2018, it catapulted itself into the spotlight as the must-have VR game for any headset owner and became one of the only VR-exclusive titles to gain brand recognition in the wider gaming industry. As starting points go, it was a good place to be in.

Perhaps more amazing is that in 2022, four years post-release, Beat Saber remains dominant as ever and has never properly faded from the zeitgeist. Meta acquired the studio behind the game, Beat Games, in 2018, but Beat Saber remains available on almost every major VR headset – Meta-owned or otherwise. It consistently holds a near-unbeatable position around the top of most VR store charts, as it has done for several consecutive years now. With consistent free updates and paid DLC releases, there’s now a wealth of content to work through as well.

Beat Saber 2022 Review The Facts

Platforms: Oculus Quest, Quest 2, PC VR, PSVR
Release Date: Out Now
Developer: Beat Games, Meta
Price: $29.99

Even the skeptics would have to admit that Beat Saber is still the biggest VR game in terms of availability, omnipresence and recognition, especially with more casual audiences. But a lot has changed since 2018 – not just advancements in hardware, but also our understanding of solid VR design principles.

The standard is higher than ever, so how well does Beat Saber hold up?

Surprisingly well, is the answer. But before getting into the nitty gritty, let’s cover the basics.

beat saber

Easy to Understand, Hard to Master

Beat Saber is a VR rhythm game with an easily-understood core concept. Set to music, the player will use two ‘lightsabers’ – one red and one blue, by default – to slice through blocks as they fly through space towards the player. The colour of the blocks – red or blue – correspond to which lightsaber to use, while directional arrows on each indicate whether you should slice up, down, left, right or even diagonally. If you’re confused, think Fruit Ninja… but with music. In VR.

The blocks are aligned to the rhythm of the music – the more on-time and accurately you slice, the higher your score. Slicing consecutive blocks without mistakes builds combos. Missing blocks or making mistakes resets your combo and can stack up to result in a level failure.

There’s other twists as well – walls you have to avoid, bombs you can’t hit, double blocks or cross-armed slices  – but overall it’s a conceptually simple game with a very high skill ceiling. Even though the upper echelon of players compete at an insanely high level, everyone can play Beat Saber – the large variety of music, modes and difficulty levels means it’s enjoyable for newcomers and experts alike.

Old Genre, New Platform, Same Feeling

Rhythm games are a popular gaming genre, no matter the platform. But not only does Beat Saber execute the rhythm game tropes well, it also exhibits an expert understanding of what makes a fantastic VR experience – especially impressive for 2018.

Beat Saber’s gameplay isn’t just addictive, it’s tactile. Every move you make lines up perfectly with your expectation for how that action should feel. In other games, actions don’t always align with the virtual world, like putting your hand up against a virtual wall only to realize that your physical hand falls through it.

There’s no such disconnect in Beat Saber. There’s cohesion and responsiveness between your actions in real life and VR, because slicing blocks is designed as an inherently weightless action. Your brain never expects feedback from your actions, so everything just feels right.

This unsolved hardware problem – generating realistic feedback and resistance against actions – is likely to stick around for quite a while. By avoiding the problem entirely, Beat Saber has positioned itself as a timeless experience, at least for the foreseeable future. Even across generations of different hardware, Beat Saber feels incredibly satisfying to play – just as much now as it did in 2018.

beat saber multiplayer

Games Modes, Accessibility, Modifiers

Compared to launch, there’s now a lot more on offer in Beat Saber as well. The music library has been massively expanded (more on that later), but there’s also several different game modes to keep you entertained.

The classic mode is Solo, the stock-standard high score mode that lets you play through any track you like, with many optional modifier options. There’s also now a multiplayer mode, which lets up to five players compete against each other for a high score, either in public or private lobbies.

A campaign mode does technically exist, but feels neglected and overdue for a complete overhaul – it’s not worth your time over Solo mode. An upgraded campaign with better structure and some form of progression might be interesting (and perhaps is on the way), but the fairly neglected state of the existing campaign isn’t exactly a huge loss.

Accessibility options and gameplay modifiers are abound in Beat Saber, which let you tailor the game to your needs and wants. You can enable different options to make the game easier, more accessible, harder or just completely different, adding a lot of depth for people who want to mix up gameplay or cater to specific needs.

There’s also special 360 and 90 degree levels that see you turn on the spot as blocks come from different directions – a fun gimmick, but nothing mind-blowing.

Beat Saber Billie Eilish Music Pack2_1920x1080

An Expansive Library

Given how big the library has grown since launch, Beat Saber’s music selection should have something for everyone by now, provided you’re willing to pay extra.

Humble beginnings saw only a few original electronic tracks included at launch, composed by Beat Games Co-Founder Jaroslav Beck. New free tracks and additional original music from Beck still arrive in updates from time to time, but it’s the paid DLC releases that offer the most exciting selections, featuring some prominent and legendary artists – Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy, BTS, Green Day, Lady Gaga, Panic! At The Disco, Billie Eilish, Imagine Dragons and Skrillex, to name a few.

Each pack brings with it a unique feel, perfectly crafted to capture the spirit of the featured artist. It makes each pack feel truly hand-crafted and brings much-needed variety across the library. The only downside for new players will be the cost – when you add DLC to the cost of the base game, things could start to get a bit pricey.

However, the expansion of Beat Saber’s music selection has also had an effect on consistency. The skill ceiling of Beat Saber players has increased dramatically in the last few years, as has the style and variety of track mapping. While the developers have evolved the game’s mapping, it’s now clear that the difficult labels – Easy, Normal, Hard, Expert, Expert+ – can mean completely different things from one track to another. What was considered Expert in 2018, for example, feels like a walk in the park compared to an Expert map released in 2022.

Room for Improvement

Outside of the actual gameplay, parts of Beat Saber’s user experience are starting to show their age. The entire menu system – large, flat and floating panels, with a point-and-click cursor attached to each controller – might have been serviceable in 2018, but now feels clunky and unintuitive. There’s been lots of innovation in intuitive user experience in virtual reality, but Beat Saber has not kept pace.

The same can be said for the game’s visuals. While overall the game looks great on most platforms, it also doesn’t feel like the best possible visual presentation, especially on Quest hardware. Other releases have really pushed Quest’s standalone hardware to the limit, delivering stunning visuals. It’s hard to believe Beat Saber couldn’t do a bit more to impress in this day and age.

Admittedly, the newer DLC and OST releases feature environments that are way more visually interesting. But if anything, this only contributes to the aforementioned feeling of consistency – some levels look breathtaking, while others now look incredibly dated and barebones.

All of these minor issues are a result of the piecemeal approach taken by Beat Games, adding and changing elements slowly but consistently, bit by bit. While it’s an approach that has served Beat Saber well until now, it’s also segmenting the game and beginning to make it feel less like one cohesive package.

It would be nice to see this addressed, preferably in one big drastic update. Even a full on sequel – Beat Saber 2 – might be the best option, providing a polished and ground-up rework of the core game, while introducing some new elements and transitioning existing players over with legacy map and DLC support.

Beat Saber

Beat Saber Review 2022 – Final Verdict

For any new headset owner, Beat Saber remains an essential purchase. Even if the genre is not traditionally your style, the game holds such an esteemed place in VR history and remains completely relevant to modern audiences, exemplifying sublime gameplay that puts intelligent VR design first.

Yes, parts of the experience are starting to feel ever so slightly outdated, but those are very minor gripes for what is otherwise a seminal VR game. Nothing has yet to penetrate the virtual reality zeitgeist quite like Beat Saber. If you have a headset, you have to try it. It’s as simple as that.

Upload VR Review Essential

Beat Saber is available on Oculus Quest and Meta Quest 2, PC VR via Steam and Oculus, and PSVR

UploadVR recently changed its review guidelines, and this is one of our new Essential review labels. You can read more about our review guidelines here

This review was conducted primarily on the Quest 2 version of the game, but applies to all platforms. What did you make of our Beat Saber review? Let us know in the comments below!

GOLF+ Is Getting One Of The World’s Most Iconic Courses Next Week

A new course is coming to GOLF+ on Quest 2, and it’s based on a real world course that’s regarded as one of the best in the world.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is a stunning course that gives players an expansive panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean, while also providing players with tough wind conditions for the same reason.

From May 26, the course will be available to Quest 2 players on GOLF+, allowing them to experience the iconic course in VR for the first time, as pictured below.

golf+ kiawah valley

This will be the fifth full course available in GOLF+, which features a mixture of real world and fictional courses. It follows on from the fictional Alpine course, which was released last month as a free update.

It’s not clear yet whether the Kiawah Island course will be a free or paid release. One of the game’s other real world courses, Wolf Creek in Nevada, released as paid DLC for $7.99, so there’s a fair chance that the Kiawah Island release will follow suit.

GOLF+ began its life on the original Quest headset in May 2020 as a putting-only game, titled “Pro Putt”. However, late last year the game rebranded to GOLF+ to coincide with the addition of full swing courses.

While the full courses were a welcome addition, they are sadly not supported on the original Quest — those players can enjoy the putting and driving ranges, but not full courses. This means the upcoming Kiawah Island release will also only be available on Quest 2 headsets.

Little Cities Cracks Top 10 On Quest Store Top Selling List

City building simulator Little Cities cracked into the top 10 of the Top Selling list on the Quest Store yesterday, just over a week after launch.

The Quest Top Selling section is updated live, listing the top selling titles on the store in descending order. At the time of writing, Little Cities sits at the twelfth position on the list, but nDreams Community Manager Jimmy Bowers confirmed in a tweet that it made it to the number ten position for a brief period yesterday.

It’s an impressive feat for Little Cities, which was widely regarded as the underdog in the recent battle for best city simulator on Quest, with Cities: Skylines spin-off Cities: VR releasing just a few weeks before it.

The list of top sellers on Quest remains pretty stable a lot of the time.  Massively popular games like Beat Saber, Job Simulator, Superhot, Onwards, Population: One and Saints & Sinners are almost always featured in the top ten, with room for only a few others to rotate in and out if they sell enough.

For Little Cities to make it onto the top of the list, even for a brief moment, should signal that it’s selling quite well at the moment compared to other staple titles.

We loved Little Cities when we reviewed it earlier this month, thanks to the way it distills the best elements of the genre in a new presentation that feels perfectly designed for VR. The game’s development was largely driven by two people — James and Kerry Howard, who make up indie UK studio Purple Yonder — alongside publishing support from nDreams.

Little Cities is available now on the Quest platform.

In Death: Unchained Demonic Trials Event Will Mix Up Gameplay From May 24

Demonic Trials, a new event coming to In Death: Unchained, will mix up the core gameplay over the course of three weeks, starting from May 24.

The event will introduce three ‘Demonic Sigils’, one for each week, which will “completely change all of the known game rules and set brand new goals for the players.” Interestingly, the event will also let players choose from all of the chapters and environments featured in the main game, allowing those who have never progressed to later stages of the main campaign to experience some of the later environments.

Demonic Trials In Death

Unlike other In Death events, Demonic Trials is not a tournament and players won’t compete against each other — instead, everyone will be working together to earn ‘Legend Points’ and rewards. You won’t be rewarded on your score, but on the collective effort from all players across runs in the event.

Developers Superbright do warn that this event will be more demanding than the main game, with “more challenging rules and requirements for ending the run and killing enemies.”

This event is the latest in a string of similar limited-time challenges and post-launch updates that Superbright have brought to In Death: Unchained since release. We were big fans of the game in our review written at the time of its Quest release in mid-2020, but since then there’s been loads of new content and visual improvements to enhance the experience for new and existing players.

We recently checked out the wave-based Siege of Heaven mode, which was updated with new maps last month, and came away suitably impressed at the variety it offered.

The Last Clockwinder Releases June 2 For Quest 2, SteamVR

A release date is set for VR puzzle game, The Last Clockwinder.

The single-player ‘co-op game will release June 2 for Meta Quest 2 and PC VR via Steam.

The Last Clockwinder Release Date Revealed

There’s also a new release date trailer, embedded above, giving us a proper dive into the actual story and voice acting that will accompany the automation puzzle gameplay.

As we’ve seen in previous trailers, you’ll be solving puzzles by acting out actions to create a chain of automated robots performing tasks. Here’s a description from the developers:

The Last Clockwinder is a VR puzzle-automation game set in a cozy sci-fi world. Your mission is to repair the Clocktower, an ancient haven for the galaxy’s plants and seeds built into the trunk of a colossal tree. Use the Clockwinder’s gloves to turn every simple task into a looping clockwork automaton. These clones can do everything you can do, from planting to storing to passing items around.

Create an interconnected system out of your own clones. Grow plants, harvest resources, and work together to save the clocktower!

Just last month, we learned that developers Pontoco would be partnering with Cyan Ventures, the team behind seminal adventure game Myst, and Robot Teddy, for funding and publishing support. Now, we have a release date penned in for just over two weeks away.

The Oculus Store page for Quest and Steam Store page for PC VR are also both live now, so you can wishlist the game ahead of launch on your preferred platform.

According to the developers, we can expect the total playtime to last between four and six hours — a nice, manageable experience, then.

Latest Quest 2 Update Brings Encrypted Messenger, Parental App Locks & More

Meta rolled out a new Quest update that brings to the headset some previously revealed stuff, such as app-based locks and tracking support for more keyboards, but also some new features too which the company hopes will instill more confidence in user privacy, including encryption for text and voice chats through Messenger and in-headset 3D Secure payments.

In the Quest v40 update, Meta is testing end-to-end encryption for Messenger’s one-on-one messages and calls in VR, which is now offered as an opt-in feature. The company initially rolled out encryption for Messenger on non-VR devices as far back as 2016, however this is the first time it’s offered on Quest headsets.

“Keeping your information secure is one of our top priorities, not just in VR but across Meta apps and technologies. When people trust that their conversations are truly private, they feel safe to express themselves and build stronger online connections,” the company says in a blog post.

Image courtesy Meta

Meta says you can check the privacy of your communication by comparing keys with someone. “If the keys match, messages and calls are secured with end-to-end encryption,” says a description of the feature.

Quest v40 also includes the app-based lock feature which was previously announced as a part of the company’s growing suite of parental controls. This lets parents restrict access to certain apps, requiring them to input a pattern to unlock content that might otherwise be unsuitable for their kid’s age. Meta calls it a “starting point for parents as we begin rolling out our parental supervision tools in the coming months.”

The update brings a new spin on how users enter 3D Secure info when using a credit card too. Before the update, users would have to input 3D Secure directly on the Oculus mobile app, however now you can manage the extra authorization layer whilst in VR.

And keeping users in VR seems to be the major theme with v40, as the update also now includes keyboard tracking support for the Apple Magic Keyboard with numeric keypad, and both the Logitech K375s and Logitech MX Keys.

First introduced last year, keyboard tracking lets you see a virtual version of a keyboard inside your headset to make typing easier. Until now, the only two supported keyboards were Logitech K830 and Apple Magic Keyboard (sans keypad).

Lastly, Meta has added two new options to its Accessibility menu which it aims to make Quest more comfortable for people who are hard of hearing: Mono Audio option, which disables spatial audio by projecting the same audio from both the left and right speakers, and the ability to adjust balance of the left and right audio channels.

To see if you already have v40, simply pop on your Quest 2, go to Quick Settings> Settings –> System –> Software Update. There you can see the software version running on your headset and whether an update is available or not.

The post Latest Quest 2 Update Brings Encrypted Messenger, Parental App Locks & More appeared first on Road to VR.

Quest v40 Adds More Bluetooth Keyboards, Security Features

The latest version of the Quest system software, v40, adds more Bluetooth keyboard support and more.

Despite ‘The Big 4-0’ headline on the Oculus Blog, it’s a rather low key set of updates for the Quest in v40. The biggest focus is on a suite of new privacy and security-related features across different areas of the OS.

One such feature is the ability to lock individual apps behind an unlock pattern of your choosing. This was originally announced in March, as part of Meta’s plans for increased parental controls on Quest.

Pattern unlock quest 2 app

Per-app lock will now allow parents to prevent children from accessing select apps without their permission — every time you want to open a locked app, the user will have to enter the custom unlock pattern. This can be different on an app-by-app basis, and is available in addition to the existing headset-wide lock pattern feature.

Another new security feature is the addition of 3DS-enabled credit card payments in VR, which is now an opt-in feature for developers with in-app purchases. This allows you to enter and charge a credit card solely in VR — previously, credit card information had to be entered through the Oculus mobile app.

Messenger on Quest now also offers optional end-to-end encryption for both messages and audio calls in VR.

For Bluetooth keyboard owners, more models are now supported with tracking in v40. A second Apple Magic Keyboard model — the one with a full numeric keyboard — is now supported, alongside the Logitech K375 and Logitech MX Keys models.

A few audio accessibility options are now available as well — there’s a mono audio option, as well as balance controls for left and right audio channels.

Quest 2 Refurbished For $249 Remains VR’s Best Deal

A refurbished Quest 2 with 128 GB storage for $249, sold directly by Meta, is the best deal for a VR headset right now.

Walmart offered Quest 2 refurbished last year as low as $199 for the earlier 64 GB model, but that storage size has been bumped out of the lineup as VR games running on the system have grown in size. Medal Of Honor: Above And Beyond, for example, takes up 41 GB of storage on its own. As of this writing, the 128 GB Meta Quest 2 sells new for $299 or refurbished for $249, with the note “inscription may vary” suggesting buyers might get one with either the earlier “Oculus” branding or the new Meta company symbol on the front of the headset.

For those just catching up on the state of VR in 2022 — Quest 2 is a self-contained standalone VR headset which comes with a pair of tracked controllers to play everything from active games like Beat Saber, Pistol Whip or Supernatural to fun social gaming experiences like Walkabout Mini Golf or Eleven: Table Tennis, or even intense scare-fests like Resident Evil 4 VR or The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. If you’re looking to get a Quest 2, be sure to check out our top 25 games list for a look at the best of what’s available. Quest 2 is also compatible with powerful gaming PCs as well, meaning if your computer is up to the task you may be able to download games like Half-Life: Alyx, Boneworks No Man’s Sky or Microsoft Flight Simulator, and stream them over to Quest 2 from either a wired USB connection or wireless via Wi-Fi. There’s even a vibrant sideloading community working of standalone VR ports of older PC games like Quake 3 Arena and Doom 3. Taken altogether, there’s no other VR hardware available that even comes close in price while offering access to so much high quality VR content. While Quest 2 requires a Facebook account to use today, that’s expected to change as well.

Quest 2 is priced so low for a complete standalone VR system because Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants as many people as possible using the company’s headsets as it transitions away from focusing on Facebook. That means he’s comfortable taking hardware losses up front for Quest 2 rather than take profit as companies like Apple do. The loss-leading strategy comes even while Meta invests $10 billion or more annually on a range of initiatives, like hiring engineers or securing VR titles like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the platform.

“I think our inclination is probably going to be to try to offer these products at as low of a cost as possible in order to be able to get them out to everyone. So unlike some of the other companies in this space that basically charge premium prices as their business model, one of our core principles is we want to serve everyone. I’m very focused not only on how you create a good VR & AR device, but how do you make it so it’s $300 instead of $1000. I think that’s a pretty big deal,” Zuckerberg said last year.

Meta’s next VR headset will release this year, but it is a high-priced product code-named Project Cambria that’s expected to be compatible with Quest games. The system will offer additional features designed for remote workers or long distance socialization, but the price for Cambria is expected to be “significantly” higher than $800. Quest 2 first started shipping in late 2020 and could be replaced as early as next year, but leaders at the company have said on multiple occasions Quest 2 would have “a long life.”

Meta says it has a “limited supply” of refurbished Quest 2 headsets which are covered by a 6-month warranty and 30-day return policy.

Team Beef Quake 3 Arena Quest 2 Port Now Available Via SideQuest

The latest Team Beef port for Quest 2, Quake 3 Arena, is now available via SideQuest.

As usual for Team Beef ports, you can install the app completely free of charge, but some functionality won’t be available until you take extra steps to add the full PC game files yourself, from a copy you own. You’ll also need to enable developer mode on your Quest first, as per usual for SideQuest. If you haven’t done this before, you can read more in our guide to setting up and using SideQuest.

As it stands, installing the Quake 3 Arena port directly from SideQuest includes the official (and free) id software demo. This means you’ll be able to play some of the single-player for free with just the SideQuest install, alongside multiplayer on specific servers marked as ‘DEMO’.

The SideQuest install also comes with a companion app called Q3 Launcher that adds additional functionality, such as changing your player name and installing mods, new single-player campaigns and map packs.

If you want to play the full game, you will need to own a legal copy of Quake 3 Arena for PC on Steam or elsewhere. Once you locate your installed PC files for Quake 3 Arena, all you need to do is copy all the PK3 files in the baseq3 folderinto the /ioquake3quest/baseq3 folder on your Quest, using SideQuest or Windows explorer.

The port includes full tracked VR weapons, intuitive VR weapon selection, support for 90, 80 and 72Hz framerates, along with cross-platform play with PC and Android players.

Pavlov Shack Drops Quest 1 Support, Preparing For QA Submission

An update from Pavlov developer davevillz shed some light on the progress of Pavlov Shack.

Pavlov Shack is a new version of the popular multiplayer VR shooter, and has been in development for Quest for quite a while now. But it might finally be making its way over to the official Oculus Store soon. Over a year ago, Shack made its App Lab debut, bringing a sudden rise in players.

However, a new update from developer davevillz indicates that the team will soon release a final beta of Shack, which will be sent to Meta’s QA team in submission for an official full release on the Oculus Store for Quest.

In the same tweet, davevillz also revealed that Shack will be dropping support for the original Quest headset. This is because the team “encountered performance regression/issues on the new engine” on Quest 1, which “forced [their] hand to focus on Quest 2.”

Pavlov started its life as a competitive shooter for PC VR, heavily inspired by the Counter-Strike franchise. Pavlov Shack is the Quest spin-off of the original, scaled-down for Quest’s standalone hardware and currently available for free in beta on App Lab.

The official Oculus Store release for Shack has been a long time coming, initially scheduled for last year. It will hopefully release soon after being approved through the Quest QA process. The full release on Quest will cost $24.

A version of Shack is also planned for release on PSVR 2, once the headset is available. Both versions of Shack, on Quest and PSVR 2, will support cross-play with each other, but not with the original PC VR version of Pavlov.