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From Orchestras To DJs, The Standout Game Music Of E3

by Haley MacLean on Jun 19, 2016 at 01:00 PM

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Where would games be without music? And by extension, where would E3 be? Tons of melodies were heard both on stage and in trailers during E3’s four day run, and we compiled a list of some of the songs musical vignettes that stood out the most, whether purely for their tunes or because of the prominent creators behind them.

The Orchestral Introduction To God of War 4
Sony’s press conference opened with a bang, as a chorus of low rumbling voices paired with a full orchestra of instruments to belt out God of War composer Bear McCreary’s new theme for the latest in the series, God of War 4. 

Along with a collection of male voices, Faroese singer-songwriter Eivør Pálsdóttir played a drum and added rhythmic chanting and beautiful operatic notes to the chorus. Pálsdóttir’s Germanic vocals were a perfect inclusion to the opening, since God of War 4 seems to be tackling Norse mythology this time around. 

The orchestra then went on to accompany music to live gameplay, which features an intriguing new father-son dynamic. This musical introduction was a fantastic start to the Sony press conference, which kept up a steady pace of announcements and surprises throughout the night. To hear the Nordic inspired new God of War theme yourself, head here.

Bad Moon Rising Cover
At the conclusion of some Mafia III gameplay, protagonist Lincoln Clay confronts a plethora of enemies while a cover of American rock-and-roll band Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising accompanies the gun fights. 

The original song from the band’s Green River album is interesting as its performance is plucky, but the lyrics are dark and brooding. The cover goes full sinister, having low and ominous vocals to pair with the words. Despite being from California, CCR is known for their southern rock style, which is fitting to Mafia III’s New Orleans inspired location, New Bordeaux. The cover by Mourning Ritual was also featured in AMC’s The Walking Dead’s season 4 midseason trailer. 

We think Mafia III was looking better than ever at E3, and if you want more Mafia III music check out the soulful tune in its E3 trailer, Bottom of the River by Delta Rae.   

Don’t Stop Ubisoft Now
Ubisoft had a similar idea to Sony’s press conference and opened with some music, but admittedly took a much sillier route with its delivery. At the start of the conference, Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now showed off Just Dance 2017 with some dancing lions, astronauts, and a huge, fake butterfly guitar.   

Just Dance is all about; you guessed it, dancing, so it’s not a surprise any announcement would be accompanied with a musical number. Copying the colorful style of the faceless characters in game, they went for a “wow” factor and you could they got a reaction from it. After the opener, it was announced Just Dance would be coming to consoles and PC, and even Nintendo’s NX in 2017.    

DJ Final Fantasy
Sure cinematic cutscenes and gameplay are pivotal for any E3 game trailer, but a good background song really helps tie everything together. For Final Fantasy XV’s newest trailer, Grammy-winning DJ Afrojack received a feat in the very title. We saw tons of Final Fantasy at this year’s E3. A boss battle, three new trailers showing off the flying car, the new city of Atlassia, and Afrojack’s collaboration, and a PlayStation VR tease that finally got a release date and price.

The trailer is action packed, showing massive boss battles with slashing combat. Dubstep isn’t exactly the first thing you think of with Final Fantasy, but Afrojack’s musical under-layer adds urgency to the gameplay, and crescendos during the highlights of the footage. However, a happier tune sneaks in when some chocobo riding makes it on screen. For more Final Fantasy XV you can check out our cover hub; its release is set for September 30 for PS4 and Xbox One.   

I’ll Keep Coming For Death Stranding
The crowd went crazy when Hideo Kojima made his return on Sony’s conference stage, and promptly announced his future title, Death Stranding. Showing a literary excerpt from poet William Blake, the trailer then delved into some rather confusing and ambiguous imagery, most notably a baby turns to oil in the CG hands of actor Norman Reedus.

The song accommodating all this ambiguity is I’ll Keep Coming by Icelandic band Low Roar. Its background rhythmic beat resembles that of a mechanical heartbeat, and matches the arrival of oily hand prints on screen. It feels as though the song was developed for this trailer alone with the way the images match with the inflections in the song, despite it being released in 2014.    

We had the pleasure of interviewing Kojima after his E3 presentation to get a sense of the future of Kojima Productions and Death Stranding.   

Dive Into The Music For Abzû
Film and video game composer Austin Wintory is providing the beautiful and atmospheric music for Giant Squid Studios first title Abzû, an underwater exploration game that we got hands on time with right before E3. Art director Matt Nava for thatgamecompany’s titles Flower and Journey broke off to form Giant Squid, and hired Wintory, who previously composed the scores for flOw and Journey, to work his magic yet again.  

The newest trailer shown at E3 undoubtedly invokes memories of Journey’s Grammy-nominated score, the first video game ever to be nominated. Calming is the best word to use when describing the music to this game, however, like in Journey more upbeat melodies or sinister undertones work their way in to reflect the gameplay occurring on screen. We can’t wait to get lost in both its underwater world and its music. Abzû is coming to PS4 and PC August 2.