Beat Saber

1 December 2021

I’ve played… a lot of Beat Saber. If it was a typical video game I’d consider it about at the limit of what I should reasonably play, especially considering it hasn’t been around as long as Skyrim, Terraria, Minecraft, Half-Life, etc. but I’ve spent about as much time in it.

It’s a very, very good game. It’s incredibly simple, but very polished. It’s the most intuitive game I’ve played, but mastering it takes a lot of practice. I’m at a point now where I can pretty consistently finish ~7 note per second “Expert+” songs, and I’m usually in the top few hundred players score-wise on the songs I play often, but there are definitely plenty of official and fan-made beat maps that I’m nowhere near able to play.

Beat Saber has been an interesting game to follow. I started playing when it was in early access on Steam, with only a handful of official songs. The modding community immediately took off, with loads of excellent “beat maps” being made for songs, and a good selection of quality of life mods adding features and fixes to the base game. The first official paid DLC seemed like an obvious choice, a Monstercat music pack, which is easy to license and fits the gameplay.

From there, the game had grown more popular and Beat Games could more easily license music in a more traditional way for DLC. The occasional first-party song would get added as a free update, but the majority of music that’s officially available these days for Beat Saber is paid DLC of licensed popular music. By the end of 2019, the game was doing so well that Beat Games was acquired by Facebook, as part of their Oculus division.

I’ve played on Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, and Valve Index. The modding process on the Quest is definitely a lot more painful as it’s running a weird Android OS and doesn’t officially support custom songs, but is still possible. Facebook’s continuous restrictions being added to their Oculus software over time has made me question how much longer the Quest version will be moddable at all, but for now it’s still possible despite the launcher constantly whining about how you’re running unofficial software and they may ban you.

Facebook needs to stop existing. Meta doesn’t count.

Playing on SteamVR is great. The Index is especially great for Beat Saber, with the 144hz mode and bright, high-res displays genuinely feeling like a significant improvement over other hardware. Mods are super simple to install and use, and custom songs are natively supported. Excellent projects and communities like the now-defunct ModSaber, BSMG, ModAssistant, BeastSaber, and many more keep the game constantly improving, with an endless collection of good beat maps, new features, and integrations.

I particularly like color mods, custom sabers, and avatars. For whatever reason I’ve currently settled on playing as a particular Hatsune Miku avatar, when I have that mod enabled. If for some reason you want to watch me play Beat Saber, I occasionally (like 2-3 times ever so far) stream on Twitch, and also have a playlist with some of the maps I’ve enjoyed playing.

I’ve really grown to love the game. It’s consistently the most fun I have in any game, and I love that I can spend an hour playing a great game and burn a few hundred calories doing it.

If you have a VR headset, you should play Beat Saber.