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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.