It’s an old cliché that fighting someone with one hand tied behind your back is either the ultimate in badass moves, or an act of genuine stupidity. Either way, the assumption is always that having full freedom will change the game entirely. Beat Saber has always felt like a discipline to begin with. The inherent coolness and fun of slicing stuff up to EDM and electronic pop very quickly gives way after a while to the realization that some legitimate flexibility, improvisation, speed, and skill are gonna have to be employed to hit some of the game’s goals. It was always doable, but bound by some hard limits on other platforms. We’ve all been playing the game with one arm tied behind our backs. Playing Beat Saber on the Oculus Quest, however, gives you the arm back.
For the uninitiated, Beat Saber is a music/rhythm game, with a unique twist: the beats of every song you play are represented in VR as boxes that need to be sliced in the displayed direction by your two weapons of choice: a pair of red and blue lightsabers. It’s a magnificent, even athletic game on any platform, but held back by the limited range of the platform. You always had to work in range of the camera, and the thick wire leading from any given headset to your computer or Playstation was a constant consideration.
These considerations are no longer in play on the Oculus Quest. It’s a system that can be played in any room in any space big enough to support it. The Quest’s cameras being built into the unit itself means it’s so much easier to make strikes as broad or precise as you need them to be, no longer worrying about dragging a cord along with it, or losing tracking, as long as your hands are in view.
But most importantly, this is a port that encourages movement like nothing else. If a difficult swing puts you in a different position in the room in a hectic section, you’re not stumbling to get back in starting position. That’s just where you are, and you continue on. Playing Beat Saber on Quest feels less like the focused horse-blinder focus of playing a Dance Dance Revolution, and more like a coordinated kata of swordplay, ready and able to demolish obstacles however you deem necessary.
The result is incredibly freeing. Playing through five, ten, or fifteen tracks in one go isn’t out of the question, with the only limit being your own stamina and flexibility. Make no mistake, Beat Saber is a workout. The difference now is that it’s a workout without limits, one that lets players stretch and improvise and explore their space, to both dance and feel dangerous, something that makes it far more likely to turn the game into an aerobic workout staple for many. That’s an amazing thing to factor into an already awesome game, which makes this the hands-down best version of the game.