Great Game, Great Workout, Intense Challenge!
Earlier this year I went to visit a friend who told me they’d bought themselves a PSVR kit and I had to try it out. He showed me 3 games; Superhot VR (incredibly fun game!), Playstation VR Worlds (similar to an old-school demo disc but for VR) and Beat Saber.
Admittedly I got a bit of a sweat on, wildly swinging my arms around trying to hit the red and blue blocks as they flew towards me in a gaming experience like I’d never experienced before, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t fallen in love with it immediately. It wasn’t long before I’d sourced the nearest reasonably priced VR kit and set it up.
Setting up the PSVR, by the way, is such a farce. My living room console-shelf is laden with cables of various sizes and shapes, all required just for one headset and a camera to work in unison. My gripes with the PSVR, however, shall be saved for another time.
Now, I’m as much a Star Wars fan as the next guy, but the fact that I was holding two lightsabers throughout the game never crossed my mind at all. What seems at first like a gimmicky attempt at getting the nearest chubby edge-lord to cream over their game actually turns out to be a well-structured and unique experience of its own and it is perfect for VR!
Playing the Game
For those that don’t know, Beat Saber is a rhythm game, essentially, a bit like Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution in that you need to interact with incoming “notes” on-beat. The difference here is that you’re physically (as much as can be) standing in a room with these “notes” coming towards you in 3D space as you use the swords placed in each of your hands to slice them on-beat.
One of the swords is red and the other blue, you simply need to ensure you cut red blocks with the red blade and blue blocks with the blue one.
Things get a little trickier from there, however, as the direction you’re slicing in is also important. Each block has an arrow on the front of it, which indicates the direction you need to cut the block in. If you fail to slice the block via the indicated direction it’ll count as a miss and your combo streak will be reset. As well as this various obstacles will appear such as walls you need to side-step (or lean around as it only tracks your head) and bombs you must avoid hitting with your saber or risk losing your combo.
The feeling of exhilaration from getting a nice long chain of perfectly-timed hits as you put physical effort into performing well is incredible, there’s a certain satisfaction that comes from doing something well, and, knowing you had to physically work hard to achieve that goal provides more satisfaction than you can find in most other games.
The Campaign Mode map
There are a few modes in the game, the first of which is Campaign mode that sees you navigating a very simple map, going from challenge to challenge trying to reach the end. Occasionally the “path” on the map will fork, leading to a bonus optional level or the likes. The challenges typically consist of completing a song with a certain constraint in place, such as the song being faster, the arrows on blocks disappearing, having a maximum combo making you need to purposefully miss a block in order to avoid failure, and so on.
This varied game mode can be quite fun and a nice way to switch things up from playing the Arcade mode, although some of the levels are very tricky and you’ll likely be getting frustrated with them if you go for the Platinum!
A solid selection of music!
Arcade mode, or “Solo” mode as the game calls it, lets you pick any song from the large library in the game and activate any of the various gameplay modifiers they have available. Actually, when I booted the game back up to grab some screenshots for this post, I noticed that they’ve added another music pack, Imagine Dragons, which I immediately bought even though I haven’t played Beat Saber since I platted it. Playing it to “Radioactive” is one of the coolest experiences I’ve had on PSVR.
They’ve also hugely improved the UI and it looks very pretty now, but they adjusted the score thresholds which had an irritating knock-on effect of reducing all my S-rank scores and my treasured SS-rank score, but I suppose that’s just another excuse to start playing it again!
The new very pretty UI, and my once-SS-rank score is now an A-rank!
The third and final game mode is called “Party Mode” which doesn’t differ a whole lot from the standard “Solo” mode, but it allows you to store local scores from those in the room with you and compete amongst your friends for the highest scores on each song.
Platting the Game
This platinum isn’t one I’d recommend going straight for (if at all), it needs to be a natural progression or you’re going to drive yourself insane. Let there be no doubt about it, this is a difficult platinum trophy to get!
Personally, I was playing the game every day after work for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on my post-work exhaustion) as a work-out. And it certainly works too because I lost a stone in 3 weeks simply by doing this. I started out doing each song in order until I had an A rank on all songs on normal difficulty, but about halfway into this process I moved on to Hard difficulty and restarted from the first song again because Normal difficulty was becoming too easy.
I was visibly improving with each day until getting an S rank on every song was easy, with one or two exceptions being longer or more difficult songs. Once I had all songs at S-rank and a wealthy number of trophies under my belt, I moved on to Expert. This was a dramatic step up from Hard and it felt like a totally fresh start, I was having to relearn each song and adjust to the number of new blocks and rhythm sections.
This trophy screenshot was taken when I got my first S-rank!
I quickly came to accept that getting S-rank on expert for every song was quite a big ask and decided to try getting all S-ranks on Hard difficulty again but this time with the “Faster Song” gameplay modifier active, which doubles the speed of the game.
Even after accomplishing that, however, the Expert difficulty was still proving incredibly challenging so I re-aligned my expectations, aiming for an A rank on every song to start with. Once I’d accomplished that, I began to aim for S-ranks once again in order to achieve this trophy:
Hope Get rank S on at least 15 different levels on expert difficulty
While working towards that trophy, I’d always aim to do a flawless run, not only because it would yield a higher score, but for this trophy:
No Mistakes Get full combo on at least 15 different levels on expert difficulty (solo free play only)
Occasionally I’d need a break from constantly attempting and re-attempting the same songs over and over, hunting for an S-rank or a flawless run, so I would spend some time in Campaign mode working towards the trophy for completing all 51 campaign missions.
Surprisingly, while the two trophies above were certainly a grind and are two of the most difficult in the game, they’re far from being the hardest which asks that you acquire an SS-rank on one Expert-difficulty song:
Flawless Get rank SS on any level on expert difficulty without any modifiers.
SS rank is one up from S-rank, of course, and requires an almost perfect run.
In time I developed a working strategy which eventually paid off for me. I detailed this in a post on PSNProfiles here in the hopes that it could help out some of my fellow trophy hunters, but I’ll explain the method in further detail below and hopefully it’ll help you figure out how to get an SS rank on Beat Saber.
The most important thing to note is how the scoring system works in Beat Saber. When I originally got the platinum for this game, the maximum amount of score from each block was 110, although as you can see in the post I linked above, the score thresholds have been adjusted and the maximum is now 115, I don’t imagine this will affect the difficulty of this trophy a whole lot but it does mean that the threshold for an SS rank is a few thousand points higher and you’ll need to focus on accuracy a little more than I did.
The score is divided thusly; the first 100 points are for the swing. The curvature of your swing as well as the distance your hand travels contribute to this and there are various tricks to ensuring you acquire at least this first 100 with each swing, which I’ll detail a little further down. The other 10 points (or 15 now I suppose) are attributed to the accuracy of your swing. slicing a block dead-centre straight through the middle in a perfectly straight line will net you those extra points. However, I found this to be far too much to mentally keep track of while also focusing on getting an optimum swing and not missing any blocks, so I left that part up to luck and put it out of my mind.
Something that was putting me at a disadvantage throughout the entire game was having set my height accurately within the game. I hadn’t noticed until it mattered, but I was getting less score whenever I had to hit a block by swinging upwards. I noticed that the distanced my arm travelled to hit a block from below was much shorter than the distance it travelled to hit a block from above.
This is because when you adjust your height, making yourself taller in the game, the blocks stay where they are. I don’t have an accurate answer for which height setting is optimal, but I am 6 feet & 4 inches tall and needed the in-game floor to be about knee-height on me in order to get an even distance from my up- and down-swings. Essentially, though, you want the blocks to be coming in at around chest-level.
Certain sources online claim you will need to get a score of at least 100 per block, however, this isn’t strictly true. I certainly messed up a few hits, even getting a score of only 24 for one of the blocks during my winning run. In my experience though, it is necessary to hit every single block and not let any slip past, although some people claim that even this isn’t necessary. As promised, I have a couple of strategies for optimising your swing and ensuring you get around 100 points per block, based around getting a nice wide curvature:
The first method is to try holding the base of your Move controller and use its rounded shape to pivot the controller in your hand (like a bone’s ball joint) to really exaggerate the swing. You want the controller pointed at the floor at the start of an upswing and pointed at least towards the ceiling by the end of your swing.
This method worked wonders for me at first, but the more I practised like this, the sweatier my palms became until I started losing grip on the controllers and was forced to find another method, which luckily I did:
My second method is also not to hold the controller as intended (i.e. with your finger on the trigger and your thumb on the move button), instead, grip the controller fully around the lower half, like you might with a real sword, and then exaggerate your wrist movements with extra flamboyance. Picture Jack Sparrow playing Beat Saber, loose wrists.
Essentially, play the game as normal, but add an extra “flick” at the end with your wrist, just to keep the curvature of the swing going. As with the first method, you want to try and have the tip of your controller pointed towards the ground or ceiling before and after a swing.
Obviously, these methods won’t work for every block, especially those which are quite close to each other, but playing like this will get you in the right mentality to always be searching for opportunities to extend the length and curvature of your swing, eventually netting you that shiny trophy!
Annoyingly I looked away as the trophy screenshot was taken and the rank is obscured! Now that the devs have removed my high score I only have the trophy itself as proof of my accomplishment.
You will want to try the above tips on “Legend” as it’s one of, if not the shortest level as well as having a simple layout and fairly reasonable speed.
I can’t guarantee you’ll be able to pull this off even with the tips above, it takes hours and hours of practice and you’re going to get incredibly sick of hearing that one song over and over, but if you really want that Platinum, those are the lengths you’ll need to go to.
I’ve played a few VR games this year since getting my PSVR kit, some better than others, but I can easily say that Beat Saber is one of the best PSVR games available and is certainly more than worth the reasonable asking price.
If you’re looking to PSVR as a fun and consistent exercise alternative, then I’d have to highly recommend you do so and definitely pick up Beat Saber, depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re at the gym every day working on those glamour muscles and necking protein shakes, then it’s not going to be a replacement for that at all. However, if you have a fairly sedentary lifestyle, work in an office, and just want to keep in shape or lose a little weight, it’s the perfect way for a videogame enthusiast to enjoy daily exercise.