Beat Games is a studio that just won’t stop. Not only did they release a brand new music pack this week for Beat Saber featuring licensed music from Imagine Dragons, but they also debuted 360-degree versions of two of those new songs (Believer and Thunder) at E3 2019.
As someone that has played a lot of Beat Saber over the last year on Expert and Expert+ difficulties, let me tell you: playing Beat Saber in 360 degrees on a wireless device feels like a brand new game. This feels like the way it was always meant to be played and it reminded me of the first time I ever tried slicing blocks with glowing sabers. I wish I were playing it in 360 right now instead of writing this.
You can watch the interview above for more insights into the design of 360 levels in Beat Saber, but to describe the sensation simply it felt like the difference between standing in front of the TV miming dance moves in Just Dance and actually going out on the dance floor and grooving on your own. Usually when I play Beat Saber my feet are typically planted firmly and I move my body from the waist up — especially my arms. But when you’re playing a 360 level you need to keep everything mobile and able to switch around quickly.
One great example is during one of the tracks you need to drum the sabers to the beat of the music in rapid succession, but instead of just putting them as a stream in front of you the blocks cascade to the sides requiring you to spin as you hit them, and then rapidly spin back, literally putting your body in a flowing state. It’s pure joy and feels magical.
Another thing I noticed is that while playing Beat Saber in 360 it actually seemed less chaotic, but stull more difficult at the same time. The reason for that is since the notes are spread out across my entire field of view instead of just piled on top of one another directly in front of me, I could see more notes in my peripheral vision as they poured in from multiple angles. This keeps the difficulty up but removes some of the annoyances of a single track design.
They do a great job with the two 360 tracks that I tried of guiding you through the music so that you’re never unsure about which direction to face. And they accomplish this by making the music flow naturally from one direction to the next. You’re never asked to randomly spin around 180-degrees or see a blinking arrow telling you where to look. Instead it just works because it’s designed so tightly.
Currently there is no date for when Beat Saber’s 360 levels will become available, nor is there information on which platforms other than Quest they will debut on. We also don’t know which songs, but it sounds like they are eager to do 360 levels for as many tracks as possible.
Let us know what you think about the idea in the comments below!