Jukebox Heroes: Destiny 2’s soundtrack

I feel like making a bold statement today, so here it goes: Destiny 2’s soundtrack is far and away better than its predecessor — and I include any of the DLC’s music as well.

Oh, I didn’t dislike Destiny’s OST overall, but aside from a handful of noteworthy pieces, it wasn’t much more than sound and fury to me. Destiny 2, on the other hand, boasts meticulously crafted tunes that span an emotional spectrum of excitement, contentment, uncertainty, struggle, defeat, and victory across its rather expansive album. It was a delight to listen through the 44 tracks that make up the launch album and a struggle to choose just six of my favorite pieces to share.

The score was handled by a team of composers, including Michael Salvatori, Skye Lewin, Rotem Moav, Pieter Schlosser, and C. Paul Johnson. I truly hope that the game’s popularity spurs players to pick it up and hear some excellent video game music on its own. Let’s listen through a sample of what this OST has to offer!

“Holliday”

Starting with hallowed and sacred tones, Holliday gradually turns to a darker and more ominous place. It almost feels like all is lost… and then at the two-minute mark, notes of defiance and hope charge in to save the day. It’s a bit of a slow burner, but once this track kicks in, the hairs on my arm stand up and I can’t help but be transported on a victory run.

“Ikora”

Do me a favor and put on headphones for this one. The simplicity and crystalline clarity of these notes need to be intimately experienced, from the pluckings of a harp to the Chinese violin. It’s sad and moving, yes, but in a way that tells its own meaningful story. Probably my favorite element are the chimes that seem to come in as echoes or a chorus to the main affair.

“The Wilds”

Another slow starter, The Wilds affords itself enough time to ramp up into an epic action track. In fact, I’d consider the first two-and-a-half minutes as a prologue that might test your patience for the sumptuous banquet to come. It might take a few too many familiar cues to other games that use this heavy strings-and-horns pairing to pump up players’ emotions, but you know what? It works, so why not use it?

“Battle Stations”

Alternatively, if you want to get to the action quicker, there’s always Battle Stations. Almost from the start there’s this fast tension and energy propelling the track forward. A choir rushes into the room at 1:15, probably straight from another sci-fi action soundtrack, but the singers acquit themselves well. Listening tip: Keep an ear out for that excellent percussion that gets better and better as this track continues.

“The Farm”

Probably my biggest praise for this soundtrack — and I honestly mean it — is that it knows the importance of creating quiet, heartfelt moments just as much as action riffs. It’s not always the case for these military-themed games, but The Farm bowled me over with its soft intensity and the use of the piano and flute for a much different feel. It’s almost — almost — fairy-like or a flashback to an important occasion. Tremendous.

“Sanctuary”

In RPGs, it’s important for the player to have places of sanctuary and safety, where preparations can be made, the world explored, and a breather taken between combat. Themes like this track are audio cues that such places have been found, laying out a foundation of welcome and tranquility. Out of all of the tracks that I listened to on this soundtrack, this one impressed me the most with its delicate beauty and artistry.

MMOs are meant to be heard as well as seen, and chances are that music ties your memories to these games more than you might realize. Every two weeks Jukebox Heroes listens through a game soundtrack and picks out the highlights to share and discuss. And if you like this column, then don’t miss the author’s MMO music podcast, Battle Bards!
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5 Comments on "Jukebox Heroes: Destiny 2’s soundtrack"

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Q Hand

“Journey” is without a doubt, awesome. But it’s not just the song–it’s Bungie’s implementation of it in-game. They will often loop a song until the next part is triggered by something on the screen. This lends a whole lot more meaning and depth to the moment-to-moment gameplay, but the soundtrack itself. That being said, I was a little disappointed that a few of the songs on the soundtrack lost a lot of footing on their own.

All in all, I disagree with D2’s OST being better. I think it hits higher points than its predecessor, but it lacks the overall consistency and that special Marty O’ Donnell spice, in my humble opinion.

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Danny Smith

Man i don’t think there is an article on Massively i have ever so easily disagreed on completely. Marty O’Donnells score evoked the tone and themes of Destiny. Destiny 2 is a really fun game but its soundtrack bar a few notable tracks is forgettable orchestral fantasy. Its safe but stagnant. To use another comparison its like Dark Souls 3’s OST after Bloodbornes. The predecessor was made to suit a theme and the semiotics or the worldbuilding. The successor was [generic orchestra] where people would tell you about 3 really great tracks because they could not remember anything else without looking it up. Same thing with D2. For every solid track like the path from the city in the opening or exploring the arcology for the first time a lot of it feels like stock sci-fi fantasy music with no staying power at all. If Destiny 1’s OST was Wrath of the Lich Kings. Destiny 2’s is Warlords of Dreanors.

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KumiKaze

Couldn’t agree more about the soundtrack, I love it. Never really played the first Destiny, so I can’t really compare the two.

I do have a couple of little criticisms about it though. The first has nothing to do with the actual music, just that some of the awesome tracks when you go planet side to adventure around aren’t part of the soundtrack. My only other complaint is that some of the tracks are a little too Halo-esque for my liking.

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Q Hand

That’s the remnants of Marty O’ Donnell, who worked on D1 and essentially gave Destiny his particular brand of style. D2 tries to emulate that without him, if only to transition less obviously, and in my opinion, doesn’t necessarily do it flawlessly, or subtly.

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GanonslayerCP .

decent but ultimately generic orchestra type stuff imo

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