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March 1st, 2021
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How to Improve at Beat Saber
I’m by no means the best Beat Saber player out there, but I was formerly in the top 1000 of the leaderboards and can S rank some of the harder songs like Camellia’s Ghost and some of the Kobaryo songs on Expert+.
This is just advice that has worked for me, apart from just “practice alot and you’ll be better blah blah blah.”
In my opinion, you can’t just improve by doing non-stop practice, because you’re limited by your body’s endurance. The really hard expert plus songs will tire you out in 2 minutes if you aren’t prepared, so part of getting good is improving your endurance.
If you want to beat those really difficult EXPERT+ maps, you’ll not only have to practice a lot, but you’ll have to practice efficiently. After all, most people won’t play Beat Saber for more than 30 minutes to an hour each day so it’s really important to make the most out of your time!
First of all:
“How do streamers play so ridiculously fast?” you might ask.
A lot of it is muscle memory. It’s about reacting to the cubes coming towards you, rather than having to think about it. The only way to improve your muscle memory is by playing a lot, and this will gradually happen over time.
Pattern recognition also falls under this. A good Beat Saber player has played so many maps that some patterns become familiar to them. If they see it on another map, they’ll be able to nail it on their first try… unless the speed is faster than what they’re used to doing.
But remember: if you play a pattern incorrectly, you’re basically practicing how to play the song wrong. Try to at least recognize why you made those mistakes as soon as possible, otherwise it’ll be harder to fix them later on.
Most people just keep playing until they get it right even though they have no idea what they did wrong. This can result in those mistakes never being fixed.
They have to ask: Are they playing it too fast? Are they messing up the third and fifth notes in the drum roll? That’s what they have to figure out so you can fix it.
Recording your gameplay and watching it in slow motion can help.
Turn Up Hit Sounds
One of the reasons why you may be struggling with Beat Saber is you’re not following the Beat correctly. The default hit sounds is quite soft and can easily be drowned out by the song. Turning up volume can greatly improve your rhythm.
To turn up hit sounds, go to settings (the cogwheel icon) → player options → SFX volume → turn volume to the max.
Find a Balance Between Using Wrists vs. Arms
Every person is different, so this will differ from individual to individual. Wrists can be faster than arms, but are less accurate.
For me personally, I like to use between 10-20% wrists, and 80-90% arms. I use very minimal wrist movements unless there’s a fast drumroll or a one-handed sections – in which case I use a mixture of wrists and arms.
I recommend most people follow my formula, since it’s much easier to damage your wrists than shoulders. You’ll also be more accurate using your arms than wrists.
Many of the top Beat Saber players use more arm than wrist. Although there are some who can get away with only wrists, I don’t recommend it.
Remember, if your wrists get injured, you’ll be missing several days or weeks of practice! And you might even have permanant damage, so stay safe and play for the long term!
Play the Difficult Songs
Once you get to a certain stage, you’re never going to improve just by playing songs that you can already beat (unless it’s to fix a certain mistake you make in that song).
I get it, you don’t want to play songs that make you feel inadequate. Me too. That’s why I play a mixture of songs I enjoy playing, and those that are too difficult for me.
I remember there was a song I really, really liked, but couldn’t play it. I was determined to finish it, so I just kept practicing until I could do it, without playing any of the easier songs.
That was when I improved the most at this game. It really bought my game to the next level.
Find a difficult song you really like and keep trying to beat it. It might take days or weeks – but don’t give up!
Use Practice Mode
There’ll usually be parts of a song that you keep failing on.
Find out why you make that mistake and use practice mode to go back to that part of the song.
Start that section at 70% speed.
Keep trying until you can play it correctly 3 times in a row at 70% speed.
Once you can do that, bump the speed to 80% and do the same. Then 90%. Then 100%. Then 110%!
Yes try to get it perfect on 110% as well, because if you’re able to do that, 100% will become much easier.
Turn on the Song Timer
The song timer will display how far you are into a song. E.g. it’ll say you’re 0:50 seconds into a 2 minute song.
This is extremely handy because if you keep failing a song, you’ll know exactly what time you’re failing at, so you can use practice mode to go back to that time.
It saves a lot of time and frustration from having to use ‘trial and error’ to find the spot where you failed at.
To turn on song timer, go to settings (the cogwheel icon) → player options → turn on Advance HUD
Turn on ‘No Fail’ Mode
No fail mode will allow the song to continue even if you fail. It won’t affect the score at all unless you actually fail the song.
Be sure to practice ’til the end so you can learn the whole song, not just the beginning!
Use Ghost Notes
Ghost notes can improve your muscle memory in songs by making you focus on the audio cues instead of the visual cues.
If you find you keep failing a song, try turning on ghost notes.
You might be surprised that it can sometimes make things easier, because the visual cues can be misleading and sometimes distracting. Sometimes, just focusing on the audio cues can make things easier (this depends on the song). Just make sure to keep ‘no fail’ on.
Secondly, you can use ‘ghost notes’ to add to your practice mode. If you find that practicing 70, 80, 90, 100 and 110% speed isn’t enough, perhaps adding in ghost notes can help you improve further.
Stand Still and Do Nothing
For really hard maps, it’s easy to hit a plateau where you stop improving no matter how much you practice. This is because you’re not understanding what exactly is happening since there’s so many blocks coming at you at such a high speed.
If you keep practicing, you might be able to slowly improve, but you won’t have any idea what is happening. Try this:
Use practice mode to go to the sections where you keep failing.
Instead of trying to beat it, just stand still and try to sightread/interpret the notes. Try to understand what is happening. Repeat this as many times as you need.
Memorize the pattern to the point where you can play it with your eyes closed.
Now – use the above method and practice it at 70, 80, 90 and 100% speed to get your timing down.
Lastly, Play for Fun Not to Become Better
You want Beat Saber to be a game you enjoy so much that you keep coming back to it. Not a game where you need to practice every day to become better.
Don’t take the game too seriously otherwise you might burn yourself out.
There was a point in time where I was forcing myself to play Beat Saber, because I needed to do my ‘daily exercise.’ I didn’t play songs because I enjoyed them, I was picking songs which helped me exercise the most. I lost motivation quite fast doing that.
If you only play to get better, you might be like me and stop playing the game for a while. There are exceptions of course – some people just really like the idea of getting better and will do whatever it takes to achieve that. If that’s you then cool, go for it!
But for everyone else – dance, have fun and let the music take over you.