Previews

Become the DJ — Electronauts mixed-reality preview

I’ve never gotten into electronic music, much less the DJ scene. I have friends who love it and who have an utter blast creating or just dancing to this kind of music, but it’s never done anything for me other than create a headache which bounces along with the beat. Imagine my surprise when, after spending just a few minutes inside of Electronauts, an immersive music creation experience by Survios, I found myself grooving to the music, changing beats, and adding my own flare to songs by some of the most popular DJs out there.

Electronauts is the perfect storm of addictive gaming: It’s easy enough to pick up in moments and complex enough to keep you playing, tinkering, and finding new tools to play with for ages. After slipping on the headset, you find yourself standing in a virtual DJ booth, surrounded by hovering orbs, bubbling lava lamps, and buttons. It’s not a trick, this odd collection of objects are how you interact with the music, using lava-lamp sliders to add loops, drumming on floating orbs to add notes, and poking buttons to select lyrical tracks, and mute and unmute parts of the music. The song itself stretches out before you; a moving visualization of the music which pulses, vibrates, changes, and swirls with both the music itself and the sounds you create.

Adding your own spin to a song is as easy as smacking an orb with your virtual wand, and it always manages to sound good, thanks to Electronauts’ built in quantization, which ensures that every note is on key and on beat. I found myself hopping from song to song, eager to explore which sounds came loaded into the sound grenades (I was especially smitten with the one which exploded into dolphin sounds!), what sounds this new set of orbs would make, and how the loopers interacted with the different beats. That said, banging on orbs, tossing sound grenades, sliding loopers, changing tempos, and remixing audio are just the basics; each track has a unique set of tools and sounds custom created to mix and match perfectly with that song.

Swapping out tools is as easy as using the wands to grab one the color-coated tool cubes and dropping them into one of your three workstations. Some of the tools, such as the loopers, can impact the song for a long time, so you can start a loop, the immediately swap to a different tool; the loopers will still continue to play and add to the track despite being stored away. Some tracks have their own unique set of tools, and I was especially taken with the electric harp available in Steve Aoki & Boehm – Back 2 You (ft. WALK THE MOON), whose strings have a fascinating, not-quite-guitar sound and change colors when strummed.

This is way more than just Rock Band in a DJ booth, and I was genuinely impressed by how many different aspects were included and able to be edited in each song. Both the Survios’ original music and the songs provided in collaboration with DJs contain stems, meaning each bit of the song can be taken apart and used independently. Drums, beats, instruments, vocals, and virtually every other aspect of every song can be muted at will. Want to let loose with a killer solo? Mute the snare and go to town. Build tension by switching the tempo to a drop, tossing a sound grenade, and slamming on a couple orbs when things build. Remixing music in Electronauts is easy, incredibly empowering, ridiculously fun, and it always seems to sound great, even when in the hands of an utter noob such as myself.

Of course, while you always sound good, the real challenge is to sound great, and that’s easier to do in some songs than it is in others. While I had little trouble diving right into ERRBODY by Jovian, I needed a little instruction before I was really able to make something that actually jived with, rather than just added noise to, Back 2 You. Survios allowed me to not only spend some quality time with Electronauts, but also to capture some mixed reality so you can get a solid idea of what the virtual DJ booth looks like. Check out the videos above to watch me play my way through a whole number of songs, some of which sound good, but not all my experiments worked out quite the way I’d hoped. Either way, you can see how easily Electronauts can be picked up, even by someone with zero music editing experience and basically no rhythm.

Electronauts will be blowing up HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Playstation VR speakers on August 7th, and those without a VR rig at home can check it out when it launches in VR arcades across 38 countries. Check out a complete list of included songs and artists at our news article, visit out the Steam page to add it to your wishlist, and be sure to check out our Electronauts interview with Nathan Burba, the Co-Founder and CEO of Survios, Hunter Kitagowa, Marketing Manger for Survios, and PR manager Jade Hirtle.

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