A lot of people are unboxing their Oculus Quest wireless virtual reality headsets this week. And the first game they’re heading for is Beat Saber, the VR rhythm game where you slice red or blue cubes with light sabers as they come at you to the beat of music.
Beat Saber from Beat Games has sold more than a million units across the existing VR platforms, including the PlayStation VR, Steam VR (HTC Vive), and the Oculus Rift. But those systems are all wired. They’re a bit of a hassle to set up and connect in your living room. That adds a lot of friction to the notion of jumping into a quick game.
But with the Oculus Quest, a standalone, wireless VR headset which debuted yesterday for $400, you can now experience Beat Saber the way it should be played. I got the Quest up and running quite easily. It has passthrough cameras — meaning you can see through the goggles at the floor in front of you. So I was able to quickly set up a Guardian, or the borders for the space around me where it was safe to play. And then I loaded the Quest with games.
I started playing Vader Immortal and other titles at first. But then I gave Beat Saber a try. I started moving to the beat, swinging my red sword in my left hand at the red cubes as they came down the lane toward me. And I swung my blue saber at the blue cubes, always careful to swing at them from the direction indicated by a white arrow on the face of the cubes.
I didn’t stop playing until about 10 songs later. I never noticed any connection problems or flubs because the sensor couldn’t detect my hands. The Oculus Quest has inside-out tracking, meaning the hand-controller sensors are on the headset itself, so that it can track the position of your hands as you move them about. That compares to the outside-in tracking of the older Oculus Rift, which requires fixed wired sensors to be set up somewhere in the room.
The controllers are built in a slightly different way because of the tracking. But I didn’t notice any difference. I don’t know if Beat Saber will be a killer app or not. It is available on a bunch of VR platforms. But I can say that, having played it on wired systems, the wireless Quest is the way this game should be played. Now I can get into the game in a matter of seconds, not counting the relatively quick load time. That might make it much easier to become a habit, and a reason to get a little exercise during the day.
Beat Saber costs $30 on the Oculus Quest.
Disclosure: Oculus supplied me with a Quest and a copy of the game for the purpose of VR reviews.