Soapbox: Beat Saber, or how I learned to stop hating song packs and love imagining dragons

Final notes killed, Beat Saber takes me back to the menu. My arms can finally rest, after being put through the wringer. Not a full combo, but still an S rank. That’s something, but I’ve done a full combo before. I better try again. One more try. Just one more. The lights fade. “Radioactive” starts over and the cycle continues.

There aren’t many situations where I would find myself really wanting to hear the radioactivity of Imagine Dragons back to back. Hell, there aren’t many situations where I want to hear it once. But Beat Saber is a special game. By far my favorite PlayStation VR title I’ve had the pleasure of playing, something magical happens every time I load a song into Beat Games’ masterpiece. You see, the game contains almost no songs that I like. None of the best gameplay music is the kind of thing I listen to. So whenever a new song pack is announced, there’s a moment of excitement followed immediately by disappointment. “Why isn’t this pack a band I like?”

But here’s the thing: Beat Games is right, and I’m seriously wrong. Many of the best and most fun songs to play in the game are the ones I’m least likely to listen to outside of it. I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of Imagine Dragons, or most artists in the Monstercat label pack. In fact, the only in-game pack from a band that I listen to at my own pace is Panic! At the disco. So how come, even though I don’t like about 80% of the music in this game, it’s one of my favorite experiences?

Beat Games has a knack for picking the funniest songs imaginable to play, and at this point I implicitly trust them to pick the best tracks. Grab Riot’s “Overkill” in the Monstercat Pack. This song is an unholy assault on my ears, but I’ll be damned if it’s not the funniest track in the game. It’s brutally difficult, exhausting and brilliant. When you really get into a groove while playing Beat Saber, the music fades into the background. You focus by not focusing because the second you start thinking about what you’re doing, you’ll start missing notes. All you really hear is the beat, and this game has all the ears when it comes to finding compelling beats.

Also, the constant repetition and “just one more” mentality the game puts me in made me sound like a few songs I wouldn’t normally want. After buying the Imagine Dragons pack, I like the song “Believer” and now even listen to it outside of the game. The fact that Beat Saber sold me on an Imagine Dragons song is downright crazy to me. The painstaking attention to finding entertaining drum beats and equally entertaining note tracks made the experience second to none. It offers something unique for rhythm games and helps draw attention to some really cool stuff.

It makes for an interesting reversal on how I normally view rhythm games. While I play Rock Band or Guitar Hero because they have a cavalcade of tracks I’ve loved before rather than just on the merits of the gameplay, I approach Beat Saber with no expectation of loving the music and appreciate it immensely despite that.

That being said, once in a while it would be nice to have songs that I already like. So if Beat Games is reading this, how about a Franz Ferdinand pack, yes?

What do you think of Beat Saber’s music? Do you like or love the game despite the music? Hack n’ slash some comments below.