9.4 / 10 Best Price-Performance Ratio: HTC VIVE
- Great for Roomscale
- Has a wireless option
- Good Graphics Quality
- Extra Hardware expensive
9.7 / 10 Best Quality: Oculus Rift
- Best Graphics Quality
- Great controllers
- Exclusive game collection
8.9 / 10 Cheap VR experience: PS VR
- Good Controllers quality
- Relatively Cheap Price
- Games included
- Requires a PS4
The VR game Beat Saber is fantastic! The best thing is, that it runs on all the major VR platforms Oculus Quest, HTC Vive and Playstation VR. But there are crucial differences.
Beat Saber is seen as the VR killer app. In Jedi manner, you cut flying blocks to the beat of the music with a lightsaber in each hand. This makes it easy for even VR novices to get started. Nevertheless, especially in the higher levels it becomes harder and harder without ever seeming unfair. You always have the feeling to have the full control. A big part of this is the perfect integration of the room scale and the controller tracking.
But the fast and precise movements of the controller push the tracking of virtual reality systems to its limits. But also the wearing comfort of the headset, the controllers and many other factors influence the gaming experience. We will show which of the three systems Oculus Quest, HTC Vive and Playstation VR Beat Saber is the most fun to play on.
Beat Saber is perhaps the most challenging game when it comes to precise tracking of the controllers and headset in the room. Especially in higher levels, the colored blocks race through the virtual space at breathtaking speed and want to be split just as quickly with whirring lightsabers. Any inaccuracy is immediately punished by the termination of a combination or in the worst case by the involuntary cancellation of a level. This is bearable if you cause the mistake yourself. It becomes frustrating when a tracking error is to blame.
HTC Vive and PS VR track headset and controller movements using a combination of internal and external sensors. With the HTC Vive, this is done by mounting two base stations opposite each other at a height of about two meters, for example on a tripod. The base stations limit the space in which the player can move freely to about 4×4m. The playground can be extended with additional base stations. To determine the position of the player, Vive uses photo sensors on the headset and the controllers.
Even though this technology from 2015 has now been around for four years, it works very well and accurately. No matter how fast and where the controllers move within the limits, you always have full control without delay. The HTC Vive masters the demanding tracking of Beat Saber with ease.
The tracking of the PS VR is kept much easier. Here, the Playstation camera usually plugged into the TV films the light spots on the headset and controller. This works well, as long as you’re not too close or too far away in front of it. The playing area can be just under 2×2m with optimal placement. For Beat Saber this area is sufficient, but sometimes you have to readjust the camera while playing until everything fits perfectly. Another disadvantage of this tracking method: light sources such as lamps or windows can have a negative effect on tracking.
Once perfectly set up, however, these are not factors that influence the game. The fact that the Playstation camera only tracks the Move controllers from the front, however, does. If a player holds the Move controllers behind his body, the system does not know where they are and transmits a false signal or no signal at all. There are games where this is disturbing. For example, in first person shooters, when enemies appearing from behind are targeted. In Beat Saber, where the blocks always come from the same direction, this limitation hardly limits the game. But you should refrain from hiding the lightsabers behind your back before the next epic swing. Overall, the Beat Saber blocks with the PS VR chop precisely and without delay, but rarely with small dropouts.
The quite fresh Oculus Quest offers a different tracking approach. It uses only internal sensors to detect movement and location. Four cameras mounted on the edges of the front panel film the controllers and their surroundings to help them find their way around. The space in which you can move freely is super-simple and can be up to 10×10m.
The tracking works very well, although the Oculus Quest also has blindspots similar to the Playstation VR in which it does not recognize the controllers. Again, the system doesn’t know where the controller is if you hide it behind your back or just look in the completely opposite direction. In games this is hardly noticeable, because in such moments the quest anticipates the location of the controllers thanks to the motion sensors.
Even if the controllers get too close to the headset, they lose contact. This can be annoying when blocking in boxing games, for example. With Beat Saber, on the other hand, the tracking works perfectly, with a few exceptions. Oculus has shown with the Quest how good inside-out tracking looks like.
In Beat Saber tracking works with all three systems. Nevertheless, the HTC Vive has a slight advantage due to its high reliability. In return, we put the Playstation VR in third place, as it can occasionally experience slight dropouts.
The Playstation’s cylinder-shaped move controllers are not suitable for all games because of their missing analog stick, but they perfectly simulate the grip of a laser sword. Their center of gravity is quite central, which allows casual and effective swinging. The only negative thing you notice is that you accidentally touch one of the buttons every now and then and are unintentionally torn out of the game.
The HTC Vice’s controllers are also well suited. However, they are a bit too shapeless for Beat Saber and their center of gravity is clearly further forward. This slightly delays the reaction time and can lead to symptoms of wrist fatigue.
The Oculus Quest’s controllers lie well in the hand for most games. But not Beat Saber’s, because their grip is clearly too short. On the one hand, the feeling of actually holding a laser saber in your hand is missing. On the other hand the precision suffers. Also the controller slips out of our hands while playing. In addition, the magnetic battery cover sometimes loosens in the heat of battle and makes it difficult to continue playing. The force feedback is weakest in the controllers of the Oculus Quest, which is why you have the least feeling of actually cutting blocks with a lightsaber.
Beat Saber not only demands a quick hand, but also quick head movements to avoid obstacles. In addition, you inevitably work up a sweat due to the game principle. This places special demands on the headset: it should sit securely without causing pain and at the same time allow some air to reach the eye area so that the sweat can evaporate without fogging the lenses.
Here the headset of the Playstation VR is clearly ahead. The fixed and adjustable head ring holds the headset securely. What’s more, the headset can be fixed completely two fingers’ breadth from the head and still hold securely. Even after hours of VR gaming, it still fits perfectly and nothing hurts.
The Oculus Quest is much more head heavy. Nevertheless, the flexible head straps hold the headset securely on the nose without reaching the good grip and comfort of the Playstation VR. After all, the headset can easily be folded upwards to allow air to enter the eyes and forehead.
The headset of the HTC Vive forms the tail light. It does fit tightly, but isn’t particularly comfortable, especially during longer games. It also hermetically seals the space behind the glasses. If you sweat, you can count on fogged lenses.
In the game itself there are differences between the three systems. For example, Beat Saber offers the most graphically beautiful effects on the HTC Vive, followed by the Playstation VR. If you play Beat Saber on the Oculus Quest, there are significantly fewer sparks and everything seems less spectacular. Basically, however, this has no influence on the gaming fun.
Something else is much more important. While Playstation-VR users have to be content with about 30 songs including the add-ons available so far, both HTC Vive and Oculus Quest offer the possibility to create levels with self-uploaded songs and access the creations of other users. Because no matter how good the songs in Beat Saber are: it sucks to play Legend and $100 Bill for the 100th time. After all, the developers have announced that they will continue to offer new songs for (paid) download for all systems.
Setup & Price
The HTC Vive (600 USD) needs a VR-capable computer (purchase advice: VR gaming PC under 670 USD), with which it communicates via cable. Those who invest another 300 USD or so can buy the HTC Vive Wireless Kit. The setup is complicated and expensive with a total of a good 1500 USD – but (almost) wireless. That’s good, because cables always interfere with gaming sooner or later.
There is no wireless option on the Playstation VR, but it is comparatively cheap and not complicated in construction and handling. The glasses cost 200 USD, two Move Controllers 75, the Playstation camera 45 and the small PS4 275 USD. This results in a total price of almost 600 USD.
The Oculus Quest is wireless by nature, it only needs one for charging. Its battery lasts two to three hours depending on the game. If you want to play longer, charge the headset with a battery pack (four compact power banks in the comparison test), which usually fits in your pocket without any problems.
Your setup is hardly imaginable easier. Only during the initial installation is the coupling with a smartphone necessary. This new VR freedom is worth its weight in gold and makes the Oculus Quest so much more flexible than the competition, that one gladly accepts its few limitations. Here the low entry price of 450 USD is added.
Beat Saber is fun – no matter which system is used. But there are certainly relevant differences. If you are considering buying a new VR system for Beat Saber and have neither Playstation 4 nor a VR-compatible computer at home, you can take the Oculus Quest without hesitation. It is cheap, wireless, simple, tracks reasonably and is open for additional Beat Saber songs. Only small graphical compromises and controllers that are a bit too small have to be accepted.
If you have a Playstation 4 and maybe even two Move controllers and a Playstation camera anyway, you can also reach for the 200 USD cheap Playstation VR. Thanks to the great controllers, the feeling of being right in the middle is almost one of the best. The graphics are also good and the headset is most comfortable and best suited for sporty games. However, there are rarely dropouts during tracking and gamers are limited to the official songs.
The HTC Vive has been available for over three years and is almost a discontinued model. For this reason, and because of its high price and the permanently uncomfortable headset, we advise against a purchase. Nevertheless, Beat Saber also has a lot of fun with it. Its’ tracking is almost perfect, graphically nobody can hold a candle to it anyway and it also understands custom songs.